The Relationship between Mental Health and Socioeconomic Status: Depressive Symptoms among Adults in South Africa

10 October, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Kinyanjui Mungai.PhD, UWC
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Mental disorders are estimated to be experienced by one out of three South Africans in their lifetime. (Stein, Seedat, Herman, Moomal, Heeringa, Kessler & Williams, 2009:3). Empirical studies indicate, that people, who are poor, live in impoverished neighbourhoods, have lower education levels and are subsequently more likely to have mental disorders. This study focuses on depression. Empirical studies point to depression being negatively correlated with socioeconomic determinants, but is this the case in South Africa?
From a theoretical standpoint the study considers how socio-structural aspects such as poverty and educational outcomes (amongst other socioeconomic variables) can lead to the prevalence and persistence of depressive symptoms. The main question the study aimed to investigate was whether depression was negatively related to socioeconomic status, and through which pathways does socioeconomic status affect depression.

This study used panel data from the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS) to examine the socioeconomic determinants of depressive symptoms. Waves 1 (2008) and 4 (2014/2015) of the NIDS data were used to answer the research question. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 10-item version of the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). The scale measured depressive symptomatology. The cut off that was used was a score of 10 or higher, which indicated the occurrence of significant depressive symptoms. In order to assess which socioeconomic determinants increase the probability of experiencing significant depressive symptoms, a probit model was used to make this investigation.
The results of the study indicate that, despite the recent increase in depression in 2012 and 2014/2015, the overall prevalence of depression in South Africa has declined significantly between 2008 and 2014/2015. Socioeconomic status was found to be negatively associated with depression. In particular, a low income and occupational status were associated with a significantly greater probability of being depressed. Disparities in depression outcomes followed the disparities in socioeconomic status. Hence the study found that women and Africans were particularly vulnerable to depression as they were socioeconomically disadvantaged.

Presenter biography: Kinyanjui Mungai is currently an economics PhD student at the University of The Western Cape. He completed a Masters in Commerce (Economics) at UWC in 2016. Much of the presentation will include some of the research He conducted as part of his dissertation which was supervised by Dr Amiena Bayat. Kinyanjui Mungai also has a Bachelor of Commerce and Honours in Economics at the University of The Western Cape. His current research interests are in financial inclusion.

Sad, Bad and Mad: The individualisation and medicalisation of child abandonment in South Africa

19 September, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Deirdre Blackie ,MA Anthropology, Wits University
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The incidence of child abandonment has increased in South Africa over the past decade, whilst the solution of adoption continues to decline.  A review of the Registry of Adoptable Children and Parents (RACAP) indicates that the majority of children registered have been abandoned into the child protection system, and a minority formally consented for adoption by their biological parents. This research explores the experience and representations of child abandonment in urban Johannesburg, South Africa. I suggest that child abandonment has been individualised and medicalised in South Africa.  Individualised, in that it has been termed a problem that falls entirely within the domain of poor women, and frequently that these women are young teenagers.  Medicalised in that a social behaviour that is not new, is increasingly being defined in medical terms through the portrayal and labelling of the abandoning mother as emotionally unstable and criminally insane.  I argue that this has been done in an attempt to motivate for stricter surveillance and control over young women’s sexual reproductive health and to divert attention from the state’s role in addressing this growing social challenge.  

Presenter biography
Dee Blackie is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Wits University, her research focuses on the lived experience of learning disabilities and developmental disorders. Following a 15-year career in business/brand consulting and change management, Dee started working in the child protection and adoption community in 2010.  She facilitated the creation of the National Adoption Coalition for South Africa in 2011, and since then her primary focus has been on creating awareness and engaging with communities around child protection challenges.  Dee completed her MA in 2014, her research explored child abandonment and adoption in the context of African ancestral beliefs. 

Professor Bishnupriya Ghosh

12 September, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Blood in the File: Living Archives of HIV/AIDS Epidemics
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 My talk draws on my current book project, The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media, which eschews a “global history of AIDS” (a timeline that is organized around the medical triumph of 1995) for a global archaeology. In resource-rich settings, HIV infection is now a privately lived medical condition; but this is hardly the case in resource-constrained settings of the global South in which neither optimal resource allocation or management of care is assured. In distinction from a global pandemic, then, I argue for the heterogeneous space-times that constitute HIV/AIDS epidemics all over the world. My specific emphases fall on post-1996 U.S., post-1992 India, and post-1998 South Africa as three major economies of survival (as Marc Abélès characterizes them, in The Politics of Survival, 2010). At stake is an archaeological approach that assembles “epidemic media”—blood samples and drugs to art installations and media campaigns—within a comparative framework that refuses equivalencies between these epidemic space-times.
For this seminar, I’ll focus on the “medical file” as media technology that classifies and sequences HIV/AIDS blood pictures. With reference to Cornelia Visemann’s critically acclaimed Files: Laws and Media Technology (2008), I examine the sequencing of chronic infection in medical files: specifically, files stored at the Humsafar Trust offices in Mumbai (serving socially vulnerable Transgender and MSM communities). The “blood pictures” stored and transmitted in those files articulate biological (of patients), clinical (of lab technician, nurse, doctor, health counselor) and social labors (of health workers, activists, caregivers) together; in other words, they illuminate the scientific-technological and collective-popular labors of survival. In the larger scheme, what stories do the blood pictures convey? Zooming out from this particular instance, I characterize these medical file repositories as provisional “living archives” that create new orders of affective association, orders that finally mobilize hitherto under-theorized blood archives of the HIV/AIDS epidemics.

Presenter Biography
With a doctorate from Northwestern University, Bishnupriya Ghosh teaches global media studies, postcolonial theory, and 21st literatures at UC Santa Barbara’s Department of English.  She has published two books: a first monograph on the market for world literatures, When Borne Across: Literary Cosmopolitics in the Contemporary Indian Novel (Rutgers UP, 2004), and a second, on the global traffic in iconic images of famous figures, entitled Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular (Duke UP, 2011). She is currently working on a third monograph, The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media, and a co-edited collection, The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk (with Bhaskar Sarkar). Both projects emerge from research/programming initiatives on risk and media (at UCHRI, Cornell University, UC Santa Barbara).

Politics and Business as (un)usual? The Electoral Performance of Businessmen Presidential Candidates in Africa and Latin America

5 September, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Dr Robert Nyenhuis
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

With the election of Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential contest, analysts struggled to put forth a series of explanations to account for the seemingly surprising result. The dominant narrative in much of the discourse is that the billionaire’s victory represents an electoral anomaly of sorts. However, a more comprehensive examination of global politics (Africa, Latin America) demonstrates the empirical reality that businessmen candidates throughout the world have considerable electoral success. In this project, I develop and test an original theory designed to account for these candidates’ electoral success—that businessmen candidates have greater electoral success when citizens hold high levels of admiration for entrepreneurs and favor neoliberal macro-economic policies. 

Presenter biography: Dr Nyenhuis is a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at Cal Poly Ponoma. He is currently working on a book on why Latin American voters for populist presidential candidates, and research projects on citizen’s voting behaviour in presidential systems

FasRU publication update

Elena Moore has published an article in Agenda, as part of a special issue on Intersectionality. The article, “Centring the intersection of race, class, and gender when a customary marriage ends” was co-authored by Prof. Chuma Himonga, the NRF Chair in Customary Law, Indigenous Values and Human Rights. The article is available here, and the abstract is below:


Vectors or Victims? High HIV transmission risk among adolescents living with HIV in a community-traced study in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

29 August, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Elona Toska
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Recent genetic mapping and observational studies among sero-discordant couples suggest that HIV transmission happens when virally-unsuppressed HIV-positive people engage in high-risk sexual practices. Adolescents living with HIV report high rates of non-adherence to ART and low viral suppression. Adolescence is also a time of experimenting with sexual and romantic partnerships. This paper documents which HIV-positive adolescents are most at risk of secondary HIV transmission to their sexual partners. It analyses data from the Mzantsi Wakho baseline which included 1,060 adolescents living with HIV from the Eastern Cape province in South Africa. One in five HIV+ adolescents reported high sexual risk, over half reported high viral activity, and 12% reported both. These adolescents at high risk of HIV transmission were older, lived in rural areas and reported high vulnerabilities and high-risk relationships. Combinations of these risk factors resulted in higher HIV transmission risk, suggesting the need for multi-component interventions to address these composite vulnerabilities.

Presenter Biography:

Elona is a post-doctoral research fellow at the AIDS and Society Research Unit at UCT.
She recently completed her doctorate at the University of Oxford, focusing on the sexual practices of HIV-positive adolescents as part of the Mzantsi Wakho longitudinal cohort study. She spent 2013-2014 in the Eastern Cape province in South Africa, setting up and coordinating the baseline study of the Mzantsi Wakho longitudinal cohort. She works closely with Prof. Lucie Cluver (Oxford) and Dr. Rebecca Hodes (UCT), with whom she is currently conceptualising a study on adolescent parenthood in the context of HIV and is looking forward to learning from colleagues with experience in related research and programming. Elona works closely with a wonderful team of researchers which include colleagues at the University of Cape Town, Curtin University in Australia and healthcare providers and researchers in the Eastern Cape. When not coordinating fieldwork in rural and urban Eastern Cape, Elona enjoys helping her fellow research team members facilitate workshops on health issues with youth, which sometimes include sleeping in the back of bakkies, running lots of energizers, and organising snack breaks - usually with a two-year old baby in town.


FaSRU researcher & PhD student, Lwando Scott, publishes article in Agenda

Congratulations to FaSRU researcher and PhD candidate, Lwando Scott, for publishing an article, “Disrupting Johannesburg Pride: Gender, race, and class in the LGBTI movement in South Africa” in Agenda. Lwando is
undertaking a PhD on same sex marriage in South Africa. Using queer theory as a lens his thesis examines same-sex marriage in South Africa. The central question that underpins this research project is why do same-sex couples marry
What is attractive about the institution of marriage to same-sex couples? His thesis critiques the normativity debate of the late 1990’s represented by Sullivan (1995) and Warner (2000). Whereas Sullivan is pro marriage and the normalising of gay people, Warner is against marriage and the normalising of gay people. The normalising versus transgressive binary is used a starting

Perspectives and experiences of caregivers enrolled in a paediatric HIV disclosure programme in the peri-urban township of Khayelitsha, Cape Town

22 August, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Namhla Sicwebu, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Division of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Cape Town.
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

South Africa has a low pediatric HIV disclosure rate, attributed to caregiver propensity to delay disclosure and a lack of institutional guidelines at health care facility level. Caregivers often cite lack of disclosure skills, concern for children’s psychological well-being after disclosure and fear children might inadvertently disclose to others as barriers to early disclosure. Moreover, at a structural level, health care facilities lack resources needed to adequately facilitate the process of disclosure. In 2015, a caregiver-led disclosure programme was developed and implemented in a peri-urban township in Cape Town. The programme utilises two illustrated disclosure books as tools for change and seeks to move disclosure from the health care facility to the community.

To understand the perspectives and experiences of caregivers who received the disclosure booklets, and to explore what role social and cultural factors play in shaping acceptability of initiating pediatric HIV disclosure.

Lunch will be served from 12:30

For further details, please contact:

Tel: 021 650 4656

Patrons, clients, brokers and populists: Research in South Africa and Latin America

8 August, 2017 - 14:00 to 16:30
Professor Robert Mattes, Sarah Lockwood, and Dr. Robert Nyenhuis
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

 Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa will host a composite seminar with Professor Robert Mattes, Sarah Lockwood, and Dr. Robert Nyenhuis. Professor Mattes will present work exploring the patron-client relationship between MPs and constituents. Ms. Lockwood will discuss protest brokers in South African cities. And Dr. Nyenhuis will speak about his research on populism in Latin America.



Internship with International Enterprise Singapore

IE Singapore is the government agency driving Singapore’s external economy. For the past 30 years, we have been spearheading the overseas growth of Singapore-based companies and promoting international trade. Our vision is a thriving business hub in Singapore with Globally Competitive Companies and leading international traders. Our global network of overseas centres in over 39 locations provides the necessary connections in many developed and emerging markets. Our Johannesburg office is based in Sandton Central and covers 9 countries in the Southern Africa region.

Politics in Ghana: The 2016 elections and their aftermath

3 August, 2017 - 11:00 to 4 August, 2017 - 14:00
The new Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa, together with the Department of Political Studies at UCT
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Politics in Ghana:
The 2016 elections and their aftermath

UCT, 3-4 August 2017

The new Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa, together with the Department of Political Studies at UCT, is holding a workshop on Politics in Ghana. This small, focused workshop will examine the December 2016 elections, the political context, and the implications of the election and change of government for policy-making and implementation.

The workshop will be held on August 3rd and 4th in the Centre for Social Science Research Seminar Room, Leslie Social Science Building room 4.29, Upper Campus.

Contact for more details.



Cake and coffee with Chris Saunders and Jeremy Seekings at the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa Tuesday 11 July, 10am

11 July, 2017 - 10:00 to 12:30
Chris Saunders and Jeremy Seekings
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

On Tuesday 11 July at 10 am the Institute will be hosting a coffee and cake discussion with Chris Saunders and Jeremy Seekings. Chris and Jeremy will reflect on what they learned about the state of African Studies across Europe at the European African Studies Conference held in late June.

Chris Saunders is an Emeritus Professor with a special interest in the recent political history of the SADC countries.

Jeremy Seekings is Professor of Political Studies and Sociology and Interim Director of the new Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa.




Cake and coffee with Ndangwa Noyoo at the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa

13 June, 2017 - 10:00 to 12:30
Ndangwa Noyoo
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 


On Tuesday 13 June at 10 am the Institute will be hosting a coffee and cake discussion with Ndangwa Noyoo, Associate Professor in the Department of Social Development, UCT. Ndangwa will speak about his work on innovative strategies for development in Southern and West Africa.

Ndangwa’s interest is in scholarly work that can liberate Africans from chronic poverty, hunger and destitution, as well as work that challenges tyranny in Africa and spurs people to action against dictatorships and autocratic regimes. His two current projects are on indigenous social security systems in Southern and West Africa, and social welfare and social work in Southern Africa. Both projects will culminate in books.

Ndangwa Noyoo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Development at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Previously, he worked for the University of Johannesburg and for the South African Government as a Senior Social Policy Specialist/Chief Director in the National Department of Social Development. Prior to this, he was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Work at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has published widely in the areas of social policy, social development and related fields, especially, in the context of Africa and Southern Africa.

Please join us in the CSSR Seminar Room, Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building.


Civil Society Observation of the violation of the Electoral Code of Conduct during the 2016 South African Local Government Elections.

13 June, 2017 - 12:45 to 14:00
Nkosikhulule Xhawulengweni Nyembezi
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The administration of the 2016 local government elections in South Africa has been celebrated as yet another important contributor to the delivery of free and fair elections. Yet competitive elections, an essential component of any democratic system, require more than smooth running administrative systems. Competitive elections require conditions that create a climate of tolerance, free political campaigning, and open public debate. An election without freedom to campaign is doomed to be stunted and inefficient as the right to freedom of expression is one of a web of mutually supporting rights the Constitution affords to citizens. This paper presents an analysis of narrative reports on instances of violations of the Electoral Code of Conduct, including intimidation and violence, gathered by Civil Society violence monitors and election observers from 1 March until 31 September 2016. The analysis reveals that whilst the vast majority of South Africans can vote and express their opinions without fear of retribution, there are underlying tensions militating against constitutionally protected political rights. When viewed  in conjunction with the Afrobarometer survey data (2016) on perceptions of political space in South Africa, in the context of Diamond and Morlino’s minimum requirements for democracy, it becomes clear that pre-election campaign space is fragile and not given, and will therefore need to be nurtured in future elections.

Presenter biography: Nkosikhulule Xhawulengweni Nyembezi is a PhD Candidate in Public Law, a policy analyst, a researcher, and a human rights activist. His research interests are in the areas of Electoral Democracy and Good Governance, Socio-Economic Rights, Anti-Corruption Institutional Frameworks, and Early Childhood Development.

He has been involved in the coordination of civil society election-monitoring programmes in the national, provincial and local government since 1994, and serves as the Co-Chairperson of the National Co-ordinating Forum – a platform that brings together civil society formations and the Independent Electoral Commission. He also served as a community representative in the Development Chamber of the National Economic Development and Labour Council.