Why has it not been possible to give effect to the promised rights in the South African Constitution as quickly as people had hoped and expected? And what strategies can address the slow pace of transformation in South Africa? These were the key questions that steered the inquiries of the Mandela Initiative – a national multisectoral collaboration that emerged out of a UCT-hosted national conference, in 2012, on strategies to overcome poverty and inequality in South Africa. The report on the MI process and findings was launched at a recent PII seminar. A key recommendation from the inquiry is that a focus on the poor only is inadequate because inequality is the most damaging legacy of apartheid, and that requires urgent attention. The now-completed MI process could also serve as a springboard for the University of Cape Town to promoting debate about a new vision for the country that can guide policy to reduce inequality and eliminate poverty.
A proposed MPhil specialising in theories of justice and inequality has been conceptualised in the wake of longstanding demands for curriculum transformation and debates about whom are regarded as knowers, what is regarded as knowledge, who is regarded an adequate theorist and what is regarded as theory. Framing a curriculum that can address these questions calls for a dialogue between different disciplines. To this end, the Theories of Justice and Inequality team in association with the PII and the Rethinking Politics and Philosophy Platform of the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, have recently hosted two workshops to contribute to the debates. Trevor McArthur from the Department of Sociology and programme coordinator of the proposed MPhil degree programme reflects on these gatherings.
With the release of the 2017 National Adolescent & Youth Health Policy, the South African government and partners have committed to prioritising meeting the health needs of the country’s youth in supporting and assisting them as they transition from childhood to adulthood. Key to policy implementation, however, is ensuring that staff involved within adolescent healthcare and well-being have the necessary capacity to implement policy programmes. This goal was given a major boost with the recent introduction of a short course for government and non-governmental organisation support staff working at national, provincial and district levels to implement the policy that targets young people aged 10 – 24 years. The course, which is offered by the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre at UCT’s Health Sciences Faculty, is based on a short course run annually, for the past nine years in London, by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the World Health Organisation.
The tributes to the late Prof. Bongani Mayosi over the past month were consistent in describing his work as directed to serve and benefit people living in poverty. His concern was that diseases of the poor were not receiving enough attention by science and, as a cardiologist, he was committed to contributing to a better understanding of how cardiovascular diseases affect or manifest in those living in poverty. One field to which he made profound contributions was that of rheumatic heart disease – a “disease of poverty” brought on by an easy-to-treat strain of bacteria that affect especially children and young people who grow up in conditions of poverty. Prof. Mayosi’s legacy in this field today stretches from clinics on the Cape Town Flats to the African Union and beyond.