Workshop on social protection in Africa

The CSSR is hosting a workshop on Thursday and Friday, 29th/30th May 2014, on social protection in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. We anticipate panels organized around the following themes:

  • History of welfare policy in South Africa
  • Street-level bureaucrats and the administration of welfare programmes
  • Pensions, grants and ‘community’ politics
  • The politics of pilot programmes in Southern and East Africa
  • The national politics of policy-making

In addition to the panels, we anticipate also two ‘plenary’ talks. One will be given by Professor Sarah Brooks of Ohio State University, on the comparative politics of conditional cash transfers. Professor Brooks is the author of Social Protection and the Market in Latin America (Cambridge UP, 2009).

Vacancy: Afrobarometer Data Quality Officer

The Afrobarometer is an independent, non-partisan research project that measures the social, political and economic atmosphere in Africa through a series of public attitude surveys (see the Afrobarometer website). The CSSR’s Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU) is a support unit within the Afrobarometer Network and is seeking to make a full-time, 2 year contract appointment of a Data Quality Officer to build capacity within the Afrobarometer research network. For further details of this job opportunity, please download attached job advertisement here.

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.

In Memoriam: Joel Barkan

Joel Barkan tragically passed away on 10 January 2014.  He was on a family vacation in Mexico City with his wife Sandra, son and daughter-in-law, where he suffered a pulmonary embolism. 

Joel was one of the leading scholars of African politics.  He was the author of five books, including Beyond Capitalism Versus Socialism in Kenya and Tanzania (1995) and most recently Legislative Power in Emerging African Democracies (2009), and contributed pieces to many of the discipline’s leading journals such as the American Political Science Review (1987, 1976), World Politics (1989), Democratization, (2000), Foreign Affairs (2004, 1998), Journal of Democracy (2012, 2008, 1998, 1995, 1993) and Journal of Modern African Studies (1991, 1989).

Joel’s scholarship linked the first generation of American scholars who applied the new methods of political science to the systematic study of Africa’s newly independent states, like his mentor Joseph Coleman, and the most recent cohort of Africanists who regularly use survey and experimental research.  Joel was one of the very first scholars to carry out a representative survey of African citizens (as well as of local elites and members of parliament), in his seminal analysis of the role Kenyan MPs played in linking rural, peripheral communities to the political centre (published with Chong Lim Kim, Ilter Turan and Malcolm  Jewell as The Legislative Connection: The Politics of Representation in Kenya, Korea and Turkey).  At the time of his death, he was working with us to complete the African Legislatures Project, a comparative study of 17 African legislatures that used direct observation, key informant interviews, and mass and elite surveys.  This project represented the culmination of his life’s work. 

National Research Foundation Chair in Customary Marriage

On 11th and 12th February, the National Research Foundation Chair in Customary Law at UCT*, Prof. Chuma Himonga, in collaboration with Dr. Elena Moore and the National Movement of Rural Women, hosted a workshop on the findings of a study on The Operation of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (RCMA) and Rules of Intestate Succession in the Constitutional Court decision in Bhe v Magistrate Khayelitsha. The Dean of the Law Faculty, Professor Pamela Schwikkard, opened the workshop.

Imitation games: Interactional Expertise and Comparative Research

26 February, 2014 -
13:00 to 14:00
Martin Weinel & Rob Evans (University of Cardiff, UK)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

The Imitation Game is a new sociological method. It can be used to measure the extent to which different social groups understand each other and provides a new topography of social integration. In this talk, we will outline the theory behind the method and illustrate its application with examples drawn from studies investigating religion, gender, race and sexuality.


A Better Life For All? Democratization and Electrification in Post-Apartheid South Africa.

20 February, 2014 -
13:00 to 14:00
Joachim Wehner co-authored with Verena Kroth and Valentino Larcinese (LSE, UK)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29 Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 


Does democracy affect the delivery of essential basic services? And if yes, which elements of democracy trigger changes in implemented policies: enfranchisement, the liberalization of political organization, or both? In 1994, 19 million South Africans gained the right to vote. The ANC promised “a better life for all” including improved household access to electricity. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we exploit heterogeneity in the share of newly enfranchised voters across municipalities to evaluate how franchise extension affected household electrification. Our dataset combines geo-referenced nightlight satellite imagery, 1996 and 2001 census data, and 1995/6 municipal election results. Enfranchisement has a significant positive effect on electrification, but the liberalization of political organization matters, too. Our analysis highlights the potential mediating role of political parties in accounting for service delivery patterns in new democracies.


NUMSA considers united fronts

Last week the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) - now South Africa's largest trade union - considered the experience of "united fronts" as part of its week-long "Political School" for shop stewards and organisers. NUMSA has made waves by ending its formal support for the ANC, calling on COSATU to end its alliance with the ANC, proposing the formation of a worker's party and/or a united front of unions and community-based organisations committed to progressive change. CSSR Director Jeremy Seekings spoke at the NUMSA School on the experiences of the "UDF" , drawing on his book on The UDF: A History of the United Democratic Front in South Africa, 1983-1991 (published in 2000).

Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry

After long legal delays, the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of Police Inefficiency in Khayelitsha (etc) has finally begun its hearings. The Commission is important because it is the first time that routine police performance has been scrutinised: This Commission is to routine policing what the Marikana Commission is to public order policing. The Commission is being covered extensively in GroundUp, the online media project in which the CSSR collaborates with the Community Media Trust. Adam Armstrong is working full-time, reporting on the Commission. See This afternoon, CSSR Director Jeremy Seekings presented expert evidence to the Commission on the social and economic character of Khayelitsha, and attitudes towards the police and informal justice.

Prof Jeremy Seekings presenting his expert evidence at the Commission.

CSSR Karoo project

The Southern African Wildlife Management Association (SAWMA) has distributed a "newsflash" about the CSSR's Karoo predator project. The article, by Heather Dugmore (who herself lives and farms in the eastern Karoo), describes the CSSR project as 'a first for South Africa and it's also one of the largest camera trap surveys ever undertaken in the world' - with 180 wildlife cameras ('camera traps') over 80,000 ha of sheep farms (and subsequently in Anysberg Nature Reserve). The research suggests that sheep farming in the Karoo supports a surprising diversity of wildlife.

New research project on HIV-positive adolescents

Rebecca Hodes has returned to the CSSR, where she will be taking up her second postdoctoral fellowship with us. Rebecca is the principal investigator on a project about HIV-positive adolescents, their adherence to antiretroviral treatment, and their uptake of sexual and reproductive health services in South Africa’s public sector.

Rebecca’s monograph, Broadcasting the Pandemic: HIV on South African television, is forthcoming with HSRC Press this year. The book is adapted from her D.Phil thesis, completed at Oxford University in 2009, and was developed as a manuscript during her first postdoctoral fellowship at the CSSR and over the course of a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Humanities in Africa (Huma), also at UCT.

Rebecca Hodes, third from the left, and other CIPHER grantees, at the International AIDS Conference in Kuala Lumpur, July 2013.

2014 CSSR/Afrobarometer Summer School

The 2014 CSSR/Afrobarometer Summer School kicked off on Monday 13th January. About thirty students from across Africa registered for either the introductory social statistics course (taught by Rajen Govender) or the advanced course (taught by Pedro Wolf), as well as a selection of thematic modules. This year the modules on offer cover democratisation (Bob Mattes), public policy in Africa (Jeremy Seekings), poverty measurement (Boniface Dulani), citizenship in Africa (Mike Bratton) and governance and accountabiity (Gyimah-Boadi). The Summer School runs for four weeks, concluding on 7 February.

When should people with HIV commence treatment?

A new article by Simon Collins and Nathan Geffen examines the evidence on when people with HIV should start treatment. The recent momentum to initiate treatment at a CD4 cell count above 350 cells/mm3 is driven by the potential population benefits of antiretroviral treatment reducing infectiousness together with operational concerns. These are important. However, the clinical benefits and risks for the person taking treatment should also be taken into account. These may vary depending on the background health setting. The authors conclude that the decision of when to start must be taken by the HIV-positive person in consultation with their health worker based on accurate information. That choice will vary depending on a person’s individual health, their reason to want to treat and the resources of the health-care facility. See under "Publications" for further information. Simon Collins works at HIV i-Base in London (UK).