Democracy in Africa Research Unit

Director: Prof Robert Mattes

The Democracy in Africa Research Unit strengthens empirical social science research capacity in Africa by supporting and conducting systematic research on key factors that shape the survival and quality of democracy in South Africa and the rest of the continent. DARU's activities are focused in four broad research areas: public opinion, voting and elections, political Institutions, and the political Consequences of HIV/AIDS. Read more about DARU

Symposium on African Public Opinon

To mark the end of the CSSR-Afrobaromeer Summer School, a symposium was held on the morning of Friday 7 February 2014. The symposium was opened by UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo. Papers were presented by a selection of by members of the Afrobarometer Executive Committee as well as the prize-winning participant in the 2014 Summer School. Presentations covered topics such as the historical roots of variation in trust across Africa, the implications of mobile phones for citizenship, and the relatonship between atttudes to tradtional leaders and atttudes to local government.

CSSR-Afrobarometer Summer School

The second joint CSSR/Afrobarometer Anglophone Summer School was held at UCT from 13 January to 7 February. The four-week summer school consisted of five two-week modules in substantive subjects relevant to the Afrobarometer Project in the broad areas of democracy, governance and public policy as well as two four-week modules in research design and social statistics. This year’s summer school instructors included Professor Robert Mattes, Professor Jeremy Seekings, Professor Rajen Govender and Dr Pedro Wolf of the Centre for Social Science Research as well as Professor Gyimah-Boadi, Professor Michael Bratton and Dr Boniface Dulani of the Afrobarometer Network. A total of 30 participants from 18 African countries participated. Participants presented ther reserach papers on the fnal day of the School. The Summer School comprises two UCT-registered courses, at Honours and Masters levels; partcipants had the option of registering for these courses.

CSSR research on young South Africans

The CSSR has long been active in researching the experiences of, and the challenges and opportunities facing, young people in South Africa. Jeremy Seekings, Bob Mattes, Elena Moore, Ariane De Lannoy and Pedro Wolf conducted research for the Centre for Development and Enterprise, which recently published a summary report which in turn has received some publicity in the press. Jeremy's work focused on experiences in the labour market, and especially the ways in which inequalities are reproduced between generations. Bob's research focused on young people's attitudes towards democratic citizenship. Elena considered transitions in family life, Pedro considered health-compromising behaviours, and Ariane examined schooling and education.

High school learners' opinions about immigration: Preliminary evidence from the the 2012 Cape Area Study

30 October, 2012 - 13:00
Kevin O'Neil
CSSR, Room 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

Some opinion surveys have found that South African respondents are highly skeptical of foreigners and immigrants, relative to respondents from other countries. This, combined with high profile attacks on immigrants in recent years, calls for an investigation of the sources of hostility toward outsiders. This presentation examines predictors of attitudes toward immigration among the “born free” generation, testing several hypotheses that scholars have used to explain xenophobia in South Africa and elsewhere. The analysis uses new, preliminary data from the 2012 Cape Area Study, a survey recently conducted by CSSR's Democracy in Africa Research Unit that asked Cape-Town area high school learners and their teachers and parents about their opinions on civics and other public issues. The hypothesis that skepticism of immigration is driven by economic anxiety receives some support, while the hypothesis that hostility toward immigration is a byproduct of South Africa’s nation-building efforts is not supported. Measures of educational effectiveness are also not associated with levels of support for immigration.

Course for South African Parliament

The CSSR is running a 3-day course on "Doing Research for researchers" at the South African Parliament. The course, from 25-27 June, has been designed to help parliamentary researchers to reflect critically on the design, practice and presentation of research. We live in a world where information is abundant: the challenge facing researchers is often not so much “how do we collect new information?” as “how do we make good use of the information that is already available?” We have to avoid being overwhelmed by the volume of information, distinguish between reliable and unreliable information, and present our findings effectively and honestly. The course examines how we collect the information that we need, how we make sure that we have good information, how we can use quantitative data sensibly and critically, how we organize our analyses, and how we communicate our analysis to our audiences.

Carlos wins prestigious award

PhD student Carlos Shenga has won the 2012 UPEACE-IDRC Doctoral Research Award! The Award covers generous tuition and research expenses.

The doctoral research award is part of a joint undertaking by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UN University for Peace (UPEACE) to develop an evidence-based, strong research capacity in Africa on critical issues of governance and security. 

Congratulations to Carlos!


"Who Governs Public Health? Donor Retreat and the Shifting Spheres of Influence in Southern African HIV and AIDS Policy-Making"

10 May, 2012 - 13:00
Gemma Oberth
CSSR R429 Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

Background: For the last decade, discussions about who governs African HIV/AIDS policy have revolved around Western donors and their influence over local aid recipient countries. However, these dialogues are increasingly less relevant due to declining HIV funding from the West, combined with growing financial ownership of the epidemic within Africa. This project tested the hypothesis that the shift in HIV financing has prompted countries in Africa to move their National Strategic Plans (NSPs) away from global policy indicators, in favour of domestic approaches.

Methods: Data was collected from analyzing the NSPs of eight African countries with HIV prevalence rates >10% (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe). Based on 34 policy indicators (adapted from the Global Fund 2009 M&E Toolkit), the NSPs were evaluated on their compliance with the global policy, measured on a 5-point nominal scale. This was carried out for three successive policies in each country, to show change in global policy compliance over time.

Results: Botswana and South Africa have moved their NSPs away from global indicators in the last five years. Where Botswana's NSP was 65% compliant in 2003, it was 42% compliant in 2010. Similarly, South Africa's newest NSP exhibits a 19% drop in policy compliance. The remaining countries in this study continue to align themselves with global indicators. These trends can be partially explained though significant correlations with explanatory variables, such as perceived corruption (-0.5241) and health expenditure per capita (-0.7311).

Conclusions: The implications of these results may well be crucial in evaluating policy efficacy. In the last five years, the correlation between change in global policy compliance and change in HIV prevalence is also significant (-0.5174). The purposefully provocative conclusion of this project is that heavier national compliance with global policy indicators is connected with larger decreases in HIV prevalence. These findings disrupt many mainstream ideas about the benefits of cultural relevance and grassroots policy-making.


ALP dissemination in Namibia

Prof Robert Mattes gave a presentation to a well attended Symposium for Civil Society on Recent Research on African Legislatures: Namibia in Comparative Perspective hosted by the Namibia Institute for Democracy (NID) in Windhoek on 30 March 2012. The ALP presentation was on Institutionalising Democracy in Africa? Assessing the State of Legislatures. Presentations made by Namibian NGOs included: Democracy Report – analysing, monitoring and supporting the work of Namibia’s parliament, by Graham Hopwood from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and The Influence of Non-Governmental Organisations on the Parliamentary Law-Making process in Namibia, by Theunis Keulder of Namibia Institute for Democracy.

Governance in Africa in a Worldwide Perspective: What the Data Tell Us, and the Challenges in Constructing and Using Governance Indicators

4 November, 2011 - 13:00 to 14:00
Daniel Kaufman (Brookings Institution)
CSSR Seminar Room (4.89 Leslie Social Science)
Abstract / Description: 

This special CSSR seminar will be offered by Daniel Kaufman, Senior Fellow in the Global Economy Program at the Brookings Institution and former director of the World Bank Institute.

Refreshments will be served

The Impact of AIDS on Local Government Performance: Evidence of the Third Wave of the AIDS Epidemic

27 October, 2011 - 13:00 to 14:00
Robert Cameron (UCT), Per Strand (UCT) and Lauren Smith (UCT)
CSSR Seminar Room (4.89 Leslie Social Science)
Abstract / Description: 

Only ten years ago, alarming scenarios were predicted for nascent democratic states in Africa as a consequence of the third wave of the AIDS epidemic. The erosion of capacity caused by AIDS mortality, some argued, would trigger wars and reverse recent gains in democratic governance. However, whereas case studies have been able to detail the AIDS-related attrition among staff with responsibility to deliver essential services, and small-n comparisons have argued for an ‘AIDS pattern’ in the mortality of Members of Parliament, no study has so far been able to link the epidemic to data on governance outcomes. On the basis of more recent data from South Africa’s districts and municipalities, this paper argues that such an effect can now be specified. In addition to providing support for the argument, the statistical analysis provides a basis for making strategic choices about which districts would be optimal cases for more qualitative comparative analyses to understand the mechanisms that make local governance more or less vulnerable to the effects of AIDS.

Political Intermediation and Attitudes toward Democracy in Mozambique

13 October, 2011 - 13:00 to 14:00
Carlos Shenga (DARU)
CSSR Seminar Room (4.89 Leslie Social Science)
Abstract / Description: 

y using the Afrobarometer data Shenga (2007) found mainly that, because the incumbent party subverts democratic procedures, Mozambicans who obtain information from state aligned sources are less likely to view democracy as what it is, (that is, procedurally) rather than what it does (that is, substantively); and are less likely to support democracy, compared to those who obtain information from relatively independent sources, in the period between elections. Does this finding still hold true when tested during election periods? This study tests and analyzes this assumption using the CNEP (Comparative National Election Project) post electoral survey of the Mozambican 2004 election.

Refreshments will be served

The “Born Frees”: The Prospects for Generational change in Post-Apartheid South Africa

6 October, 2011 - 13:00
Robert Mattes
CSSR Seminar Room (4.89 Leslie Social Science)
Abstract / Description: 

South Africa’s 1996 Constitution marked ushered in a democratic regime that brought new freedoms and rights and greatly expanded opportunities for political participation. In 1998, South Africa also implemented a new school curriculum intended, among other things, to promote democratic and other constitutional values. At the same time, South Africa has undergone rapid demographic change as growing proportions of young people enter the electorate with no working memory of apartheid. Given our knowledge of post regime change shifts in popular attitudes in post-war Europe and Japan, theories of socialization and democratic habituation would lead us to expect significant pro-democratic shifts in South Africa’s political culture, especially amongst the youngest generation, who are popularly known in South Africa as the “Born Frees.” Against these expectations, however, survey evidence indicates that the post-apartheid generation is less committed to democracy than their parents or grandparents.

Refreshments will be served.

Four chapters in new book on South Africa

A new volume on post-apartheid South Africa features no fewer than four chapters by CSSR researchers. After Apartheid: Reinventing South Africa?, edited by Ian Shapiro and Kahreen Tebeau (University of Virginia Press), opens with Jeremy Seekings' review of 'Poverty and Inequality in South Africa, 1994-2007'. Other chapters include 'Forging Democrats: A Partial Success Story?', by Bob Mattes, Nicoli Nattrass's 'AIDS Policy in Post-apartheid South Africa', and a chapter on 'The Role of Social and Economic Rights in Supporting Opposition in Postapartheid South Africa', co-authored by Lauren Paremoer.

Durban AIDS conference

The CSSR had a strong presence at the conference on HIV in the Humanities and Social Sciences, held in Durban in mid-June. ASRU researchers organised two symposia together with colleagues from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Rebecca Hodes and Annabelle Wienand (both ASRU) presented papers at a symposium on ‘Health horror stories and ‘positive’ portrayals: new research on HIV, TB and the body in the South African media’. Rebecca presented a second paper, and Beth Mills (ASRU/Sussex) also presented, at a symposium on ‘New directions in research on gender and HIV/AIDS in southern Africa’. In another session, Nicoli Nattrass (ASRU) and Clara Rubincam (ASRU/LSE) presented new research on AIDS conspiracy beliefs, using quantitative and qualitative data respectively.

Africa Day 2011

Carlos Shenga at the DARU stall for Africa DayCSSR’s Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU) participated in a vibrant exhibition celebrating Africa Day and showcasing UCT’s partnerships and collaborations on the African continent from 23 to 25 May. The DARU exhibit, which featured information about the African Legislatures Project’s latest findings as well as AfroBarometer, the Open Society Monitoring Index, and the project for Political Leadership for HIV prevention in southern and eastern Africa, attracted a wide range of visiting scholars, donors and UCT students many of whom expressed interest in joining DARU.