Workshop on Social Protection

Researchers and practitioners - including a team from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) - met for a workshop on Social Protection in Africa in the CSSR on 27-28 May. Sessions focused on: new technologies of identification and registration of beneficiaries and the delivery of grants; the local politics of grants in South Africa; and the politics of cash transfers in Africa. Viviene Taylor and Isobel Frye discussed some of their experiences in policy-making in South Africa. The workshop was organised by Kevin Donovan, who has just completed his Masters thesis on the use of biometric technology in South Africa's welfare programmes.

Farmers, farmworkers and conservation in the Karoo

SSU researchers have been busy in the Karoo.  On June 13, a group of workers from Laingsburg spent the day in a workshop run by UCT Honours student Inge Conradie, assisted by PhD student Annabelle Wienand. The workshop focused on their employment histories, The previous week, Beatrice Conradie, Marine Drouilly and Nicoli Nattrass presented ongoing work on the history, economics and biology of predator problems, to a group of Karoo sheep farmers. Both events were held at the Lainsburg Flood Museum. We are grateful for the support and assistance of the farmers, notably Lukas Botes and Piet Gouws in making this research possible. Nicoli and Beatrice's first paper on "jackal narratives" is available as CSSR Working Paper 324.

GroundUp story makes the Cape Times front page

GroundUp was responsible for the lead story on the Cape Times today (21 May), exposing corruption in the Lingelethu West Traffic Station in Khayelitsha. Read the story and the accompanying editorial. GroundUp is a community journalism initiative, run by Nathan Geffen, and based on a collaboration between the CSSR at UCT and the Community Media Trust. We are looking for students interested in helping with the project.

Tax(i)ing the poor- transport and labour market outcomes in South Africa.

21 May, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Andrew Kerr
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus.
Abstract / Description: 

This paper explores the effects of the low density of South African cities on commuting times and costs, as well as labour market outcomes. Commute times for workers are much longer than OECD countries- average commute times for black South Africans are 2.5 times longer than EU commutes and twice as long as US commutes. Monetary costs are also relatively high for those that pay to commute, although a substantial fraction of workers walk to work.
Minibus taxis are the dominant mode of transport for commuters in South Africa but they are also more expensive than publicly funded or subsidised buses and trains. The recent bus driver’s strike illustrates that an alternative to government provided buses is good for commuters. However the government’s current policy seems to favour a shift towards publicly funded buses and away from minibus taxis. I discuss the pros and cons of this policy.

Food Security and the Urban Food Policy Gap

14 May, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Jane Battersby-Lennard
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The right to food and the challenge of food insecurity are being increasingly articulated in public statements of the ANC, DA, COSATU and other political players. However, while the right to food and food insecurity are gaining increased public political presence, this paper argues that the existing policy responses have significant gaps. The ‘face of food insecurity’ is increasingly urban and the food security and yet current food security policies lack an explicitly urban focus, leaving cities with no mandate to address food insecurity and the wider urban food system. The outcome of this is urban policies and by-laws that ultimately hinder access to food for low-income residents of cities. This paper presents data from the AFSUN Cape Town baseline survey to argue for the development of a specifically urban response to food insecurity.  


Deserving and undeserving poor: Assessments of claims made on kin and state in Cape Town, South Africa

7 May, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Professor Jeremy Seekings
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science,Room 4.29 Upper Campus.
Abstract / Description: 

The distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor is fundamental to the design of most welfare states. Similarly, private individuals typically discriminate in who they do and do not support, for example supporting close kin more than distant kin. This paper examines how young South Africans distinguish between deserving and undeserving claimants on both the state and kin. Data are from survey experiments using vignettes included in the fifth wave of the Cape Area Panel Study (2009). I show that there are clear and generally intuitive hierarchies of desert with respect to both public and private welfare. I examine how these are affected by the characteristics of the respondent, and the efficacy of attempts to persuade respondents to change their minds. Finally, I examine the relationship between the perceived hierarchy of desert with respect to public welfare and the perceived hierarchy with respect to private welfare.

A History of the Surplus People: Resettlement and the Making of the Ciskei, South Africa, c.1960- 1976

30 April, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Laura Evans
CSSR Seminar Room,Leslie Social Science Building,4.29
Abstract / Description: 

The extent of urban segregation, widespread poverty and the proliferation of shack settlements are striking images for any observer of contemporary South Africa. But beyond the country’s city spaces, which share some similarities with others in the global South, the ubiquitous and sprawling rural settlements of dislocated ‘urban’ poverty are perhaps the most sobering and defining features of the post-apartheid landscape. Sada and Ilinge, located at the northern extremity of the former Ciskei Bantustan, in the Eastern Cape, are two such places (fig. 1). Established in the early 1960s, these rural resettlement sites grew rapidly in the following two decades, as the apartheid government restricted new housing development to basic provision in the rural and impoverished Bantustans. Families and communities resident in small towns across the Cape were brutally removed, very often at gunpoint, and transported like cattle to barren, isolated and inhospitable sites where they were greeted by little more than a single tent for a family. Farm tenants were also relocated in this way. The minimal provision of prefabricated housing was blithely advertised to farm dwellers looking to escape farms for alternative accommodation, sold as a promised land of ‘milk and honey’ by officials wishing to expedite their removal from residences on white-owned farms. The rapidity of such resettlements, the mass uprooting of people with already-marginal livelihoods and the poor provision of housing and infrastructure in the new resettlement sites precipitated a major humanitarian crisis. Food rations provided were barely enough to prevent starvation. Widespread infant mortality and the ubiquitous presence of malnutrition and related diseases were reported in shocking press accounts of these areas, which quickly became known in critical discourse as the ‘dumping grounds’ of apartheid.

This presentation will lay out some of the key findings of my study of the experiences engendered by mass resettlement in the northern Ciskei in the period 1960- 1976. Social inequalities of class, gender and generation shaped a diverse range of experiences and the subjective meanings that individuals attached to their resettlement. Housing shortages, deep poverty, unemployment and widespread reliance on the wages of young migrant men were crucial dynamics in the making of power and the hegemonic projects of new Tribal Authorities in the self-governing Ciskei.



GroundUp thrives

GroundUp - the community media project involving a collaboration between the CSSR, the Community Media Trust and social movements - is thriving. See In March, two CSSR students edited 'special issues' of GroundUp: Kezia Lilenstein edited a special issue on labour market issues, and Gabby Kelly eidted a special issue on social grants. Kezia's masters dissertation is on the labour market, and Gabby's is on the disability grant. In this week's issue, a third CSSR-based student, Amanda Purtell, reports on her recent trip to deep rural Mozambique, to find and reinterview two sisters who were recently deported to Mozambique by the South African Department of Home Affairs. The sisters came to Cape Town in 2004. Their father was abusive, and in 2007 they were placed in a registered care facility.

The Karoo Predator Project

2 April, 2013 - 13:00
Marine Drouilly
CSSR seminar room, Leslie Social Science 4.29
Abstract / Description: 
Marine Drouilly will give a presentation on the "The Karoo Predator Project - Carnivore and biodiversity research on Karoo farmlands". Marine is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences, and is working with Beatrice Conradie, Nicoli Nattrass and other CSSR researchers on the sheep-farming industry in the Karoo, focusing on farmers' attempts to manage jackals and other predators that farmers identify as the primary challenge facing the industry. Marine has been running large numbers of wildlife cameras to monitor the diversity of wildlife in the north-east part of the district of Laingsburg.
We hope to have lunch available from about 12h30.

Implications of Social Networks for Voting Behaviour: Survey Evidence from South Africa

19 March, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Collette Schulz Herzenberg
Room 4.29 Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

<P>In South Africa’s highly divided society voters live in politically homogenous social environments. As a result, many voters are likely to reside in homogenous political information networks where their partisan identities reflect widely among their personal discussants. This paper argues that political discussion within social networks plays a primary role in shaping political attitudes and vote choice. Moreover, the extent of partisan homogeneity or heterogeneity within interpersonal discussant networks has important, yet distinct implications for voting behaviour. Using the 2004 and 2009 post elections surveys the research examines distributions of politically homogenous versus heterogeneous networks in South Africa and finds that network types are fairly evenly distributed and voters are not overly embedded in either network type. The research also demonstrates the consequences of the different network types on voting behavior by showing that homogenous discussion networks tend to encourage greater participation at the polls but also less defections and far greater consistency in vote choice. The analysis also shows how momentous socio-political events at the time of a particular election can change the nature of social networks, with consequences for electoral outcomes.</P>

Assessing Demand for Green Electricity Products amongst Western

12 March, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:00
Chris Harrison
Room 4.29 Leslie Social Science Building,UCT
Abstract / Description: 

South Africa is currently undertaking investments in electricity generation infrastructure on an unprecedented scale. The total discounted cost of the investment scenarios outlined in the Integrated Resource Plan 2010-30 range from R700 billion to R1.2trillion. Investments on this scale must be guided by a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis procedure. Since existing markets for electricity provide no information regarding consumer preferences across generation technologies, the inclusion of several benefits relevant to the choice between rival technologies requires the use of non-market valuation techniques. Towards this end, a contingent valuation study was conducted in April-May 2012, seeking to estimate the aggregate willingness to pay for green electricity products amongst upper-middle income Western Cape households, as well as to examine the characteristics of likely adopters. The survey found nearly 80% of respondent households to have some positive WTP for green electricity, as indicated by their agreement to sign up for a premium-priced green electricity product. However, many respondents indicated low confidence in these commitments. Econometric analysis of the hypothetical market responses produced an upper-bound mean WTP estimate of R227 per upper-middle income household per month, whilst a more conservative lower-bound model produced a mean monthly WTP of R68 per UMI household. These correspond to aggregate WTP values of R105 million and R31.2 million per month respectively. Characteristics found to be statistically significant positive predictors of WTP for green electricity are: household income; awareness of, and concern related to anthropogenic climate change; positive perceptions of renewable energy technologies as sources of electricity; and solar geyser ownership. Factors found to be statistically significant negative predictors of green electricity are; respondent age; respondent education; and, positive perceptions of nuclear energy.

Controversy over clothing industry

In an unusual turn of events, the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) marched on the University of Cape Town on the first of March to protest against the continuing analysis of the crisis in the clothing sector by Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings. Is this a reasonable example of free speech or a crude attempt at intimidation? SACTWU has regrettably declined several invitations to participate in a reasoned discussion of the issues, and has resorted to spin and misrepresentation in a series of public statements. Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seekings have responded to SACTWU here and to General Secretary Andre Kriel in an Open Letter, available here.

Photo by Raymond Botha (The Monday Paper).


  • Profs Nattrass and Seekings's Open Letter to André Kriel (28 Feb 2013)
  • SACTWU Memorandum (1 March 2013)
  • Profs Nattrass and Seekings's Response to SACTWU (7 March 2013)
  • the entire debate between SACTWU, Nattrass/Seekings and others, between January and April 2013

Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem): Global Standards, Local Knowledge

8 March, 2013 - 13:00 to 14:30
Staffan I. Lindberg
Room 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

This seminar will be presented by Professor Staffan I. Lindberg, Principal Investigator, V-Dem, Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science, University of Gothenburg & University of Florida, Research Fellow, Quality of Government Institute, Snr Adviser, International Law and Policy Institute.


The study of democracy and democratization lies at the center of political science and is increasingly important in economics, sociology, and history. In the post-Cold War world, democracy has also become a central foreign policy objective. Yet, there is little conclusive evidence about why some countries become and remain democratic and others do not. The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Research Program sets out to provide the first comprehensive theory of democratization, that also accounts for the multiple core principles and values in the varieties of democracy in the world today.: electoral, liberal, majoritarian, consensual, participatory, deliberative, and egalitarian democracy. V-Dem also breaks down each core principle index into its constituent components, about 50 of them measured separately. Each component is comprised of several carefully chosen indicators, a total of 329 , measuring the quality of democracy across core institutions of democracies including elections, civil liberties, the judiciary, the executive, the legislature, political parties, gender, media, and civil society. The V-Dem Database will contain data on these for all countries of the world, annually from 1900 to the present including pre-independence eras. Being the first to use this unique database and by bringing together a research team consisting of leading democratization-scholars in the world, each with their unique set of expertise and area-competence, we aim to provide cutting-edge, systematic and theoretically revolutionizing examination of democratization. This research program is a collaboration between leading scholars from the Universities of Gothenburg, Lund, Stockholm, Notre Dame, Boston, Aarhus, Florida, Emory, Harvard, Berkeley, Michigan, Oslo, Case Western, Colorado, and the Catholic University of Chile, as well as scholars from 24 regional universities across the world.



Fat tales of South Africa’s income distribution

5 March, 2013 - 13:00
Martin Wittenberg
Room 4.29, Leslie Social Science Building
Abstract / Description: 

I investigate labour earnings in the top tail (± top 12%) of the South African income distribution from 1995 to 2007, using a new harmonised data set constructed from the OHSs and LFSs (Kerr et al 2011). Nonparametric techniques suggest that the distribution is well approximated by a Pareto distribution. Surprisingly, this distribution seems to have been remarkably stable over the entire period. Parametric estimates suggest that the tail parameter is around 1.8, which suggests that the distribution is “fat tailed”. This implies that extreme outcomes are more common than with the standard “normal” distribution. I discuss some of the implications of such fat tails for the way we think about inequality.