Former president John Kufuor interviewed about Ghana's welfare reforms

As part of the LIWPR research project, Dr Eduard Grebe today interviewed His Excellency John A. Kufuor, President of Ghana from 2000 to 2008, about the substantial welfare reforms introduced during his term of office. These include a major restructuring of the contributory pensions system, the introduction of a national health insurance scheme, a school feeding scheme and the flagship Livelihoods Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) cash transfer scheme. The research forms part of a broader study of the politics of welfare policy reforms in Africa under the direction of Prof Jeremy Seekings.

Eduard Grebe (CSSR Postdoctoral Research Fellow) with John A. Kufuor (Former President of Ghana) in Accra on Thursday 6 November 2014. 

Sihle Nontshokweni wins award

Congratulations to Sihle Nontshokweni for being awarded the first Thembi Losi Leadership and Legacy Award at the graduation ceremony for the South African Washington International Program (SAWIP). The Award was established in memory of the late Thembakazi Losi, who had been (with Sihle) a participant in SAWIP. Well done Sihle!

Sihle writes from Washington:

At the beginning of this year I was selected for the South African Washington International Program (SAWIP).  Thembi (my friend) was similarly selected for this program in 2011.

Upon her passing a Thembi Losi: Leadership and Legacy Award was established which is awarded at each SAWIP Graduation Ceremony to a SAWIP graduand who most reflects symbolic qualities of Thembi’s favourite flower; Orchids. These qualities include: love, generosity, fortitude and the ability to work with others. The criteria for this award are detailed on this page.

Anything to stay alive: the challenges of a campaign for an experimental drug

21 October, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Nathan Geffen
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Prevalence of drug-resistant TB is increasing. Treatment regimens have to be taken, typically, for two years and have poor outcomes. Most second-line TB medicines have poor evidence to support their use and are associated with terrible side effects. In 2010, no new class of TB drug had been approved in several decades. Based on the historical examples of campaigns for HIV medicines in the 1980s and 1990s in Europe and the US, the Global TB Community Advisory Board, TAC and other organisations began campaigning for pre-regulatory approval access to an experimental drug called bedaquiline. I will discuss the complex scientific and ethical challenges brought to the fore by this campaign

The Koup Fencing Project: Community-led Job Creation in the Karoo

7 October, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Nicoli Nattrass, Beatrice Conradie and Inge Conradie
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building.
Abstract / Description: 

This paper discusses a community-led fencing project in the Koup, an arid predominantly sheep farming district in the South African Karoo. It highlights the role of supportive government officials in sourcing funding and the importance of committed individuals in overcoming collective action problems amongst participating farmers. The project had a strong empowerment dimension in that fencing team leaders were drawn from the ranks of unemployed people in Laingsburg town and they were responsible for recruitment into the project and for the day to day management of the work. Comparative analysis of the socio-economic position of the fence workers with data from the 2011 population census for coloured people living in Laingsburg town suggests that the fence workers were relatively poor and that the project was appropriately targeted for a poverty alleviation programme. This was in part because workers were required to camp on farms for two weeks at a time, thereby resulting in the project automatically selecting for those most committed to earning additional income. The study revealed that the fencing workers identified themselves as general agricultural workers but had skills and experience from other sectors including construction and services. Urban-based agricultural work has existed in Laingsburg for at least three decades i.e. that it preceded the shift of workers off farms that took place across South Africa after 1990. The study sheds light this long-standing, but under-studied dimension of urban poverty and on the diverse strategies (including reliance on government grants) that people use to combat it in the Karoo

Are African welfare states different? The design and politics of Anglophone African welfare state-building in comparative perspective

26 August, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Professor Jeremy Seekings
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building.
Abstract / Description: 

Welfare regimes in Anglophone Africa were in the final phase of colonial rule and the first phase of post-colonial rule characterised by an agrarian approach, focused on preserving or strengthening the peasantry. These later gave way to an approach focused on non-contributory transfers of cash (or food) to the deserving poor through social assistance, food aid and public employment programmes. Social insurance, focused on workers, played a marginal role. This paper first examines the distinctiveness of these welfare regimes in a comparative perspective, and then examines the politics of welfare-state-building through a series of country case-studies. The case of Mauritius reveals the obstacles to adopting social insurance. The case of Zambia reveals the obstacles to adopting social assistance. The cases of Zimbabwe and Malawi reveal how and why democratisation might matter.

Why Some Muslim Countries are Democracies and Some are Not

19 August, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Shaheen Mozaffar Professor of Political Science Bridgewater State University and Research Fellow Centre for Social Science Research,UCT.
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building.
Abstract / Description: 

This presentation examines the argument that the relationship between democracy and Islam, and between democracy and religion more broadly, is a contingent relationship. The contingency derives from variations in (a) the salience of religion as a basis of social cleavage relative to the salience of other bases of social cleavages (e.g. class, ethnicity, race, region, language), and (b) the multifaceted ways in which religion becomes institutionalized in politics and governance. These variations suggest four possible outcomes: (1) High institutionalization of religion, independent of social cleavage patterns, will endanger democracy. (2) High institutionalization combined with high social salience of religion at the expense of other sources of social cleavage will weaken the prospects of democracy. (3) Moderate institutionalization of religion combined with cross-cutting social ethnic, language and religious fractionalization will facilitate democracy. (4) Low institutionalization and low social salience of religion reinforced by cross-cutting social cleavages will strengthen democracy.

Very Long Engagements: Legal Consciousness and the Persistent Authority of Bridewealth in a South African Community

12 August, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Michael W. Yarbrough, John Jay College (CUNY)
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building.
Abstract / Description: 


The most important practice through which marriages are constituted in many African communities in South Africa today is ilobolo, often translated as bridewealth. Meanwhile, marriage rates in such communities are sharply declining, and many locals view ilobolo as a key contributor to this collapse. Through intensive ethnographic research in a quasi-rural KwaZulu-Natal community, this article explores the puzzle of how ilobolo maintains its authority over marriage even as many today see it as preventing more marriages than it produces. Drawing on the concepts of legal consciousness scholarship, I argue that the contemporary practice of ilobolo often enacts multiple, even contradictory understandings of marriage. But rather than undermining support for ilobolo, these diverse meanings actually help shore up its support by providing multiple legitimating narratives of the practice suited to varying social positions in a context of ideological, legal, political, and economic change. In particular, I argue that orthodox "affinal" understandings framing ilobolo as a practice for bringing two extended families together in marriage are increasingly supplemented by less explicitly recognized "conjugal" understandings framing ilobolo as a practice that helps produce marriage as a dyadic, intimate, and even egalitarian union of two individuals.

Sihle goes to Washington DC

Sihle Nontshokweni was selected for the South African Washington International Program (SAWIP). Sihle is a a research assistant in DARU in the CSSR. SAWIP is a 7 month program of personal and professional development aimed at developing future generations of leaders in a post conflict South Africa. 18 students have been selected for the class of 2014 from four universities (UCT, UWC, Stellenbosch and the University of Pretoria). The program is made of three core elements. The first is leadership development; this is experienced over a seven month leadership curriculum both in South Africa and in Washington DC. The second being community engagement, which is expressed through individual and team projects. The third being professional exposure which is expressed through a six week work exposure in prestigious placements such as the World Bank, Capitol Hill, USADF etc. Sihle worked at a health consulting firm, called John Snow Incop (JSI). Whilst at John Snow, she worked on the Presidents Young Professionals Program for Young Liberians (PYPP). This is Sirleaf Ellen Johnson’s signature move to build the next generation of civil servants in Liberia. In the 5 weeks she managed to organise a panel discussion with all the young Liberians on the Mandela-Washington Fellowship in DC, released two press releases and several spotlights which were used towards the development of the PYPP website.

South Africa’s Emerging Black Middle Class: A Harbinger of Change?

5 August, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Professor Robert Mattes
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building.
Abstract / Description: 

In this article I explore whether members of South Africa's emerging black middle class exhibit different political values,evaluations, and behaviours than the other black citizens. Futhermore, I explore whether the impact of class is due to physiological security or higher levels of education, as well as whether the impact of either of these markers of class are greater for yournger middle class blacks who have grown up under conditions of abundance or with higher education. I find that the attitudinal consequences of indicators of the middle class are inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. There is little evidence that the emerging black middle class is either more or less loyal to the governing ANC,though they are more positive in their evaluations of government action. The are signs however, that they are less likely to take part in a range of campaign, and inter-election democratic activities.


Making New Metaphors for AIDS

22 July, 2014 - 13:00 to 14:00
Gerry Kearns
CSSR Seminar Room 4.29, Level 4 Leslie Social Science Building, Upper Campus
Abstract / Description: 

Metaphors may be harmful or helpful, but they are probably inevitable where people wish to draw attention to social or medical issues. In this paper, I discuss the role of metaphor within epidemiology, and the work of artists and cultural activists both in challenging and crafting alternative metaphors about HIV/AIDS.


Two new PhD graduates

Congratulations to Drs Singumbe Muyeba and Annabelle Wienand, who graduated with PhDs at UCT on 13th June 2014. Annabelle's PhD examines representations of AIDS in South African photography. Singumbe's PhD examines the effects of property ownership on poverty in Cape Town (South Africa) and Lusaka (Zambia), using both quantitative and qualitative data.

Dr Annabelle Wienand (right), with her supvisor, Prof Nicoli Nattrass (centre) and CSSR Director, Prof Jeremy Seekings.

A PhD, a book, and a UCT book award for ASRU

Annabelle Wienand, Nicoli Nattrass and Rebecca Hodes celebrate academic milestones for the AIDS and Society Research Unit. Wienand's thesis, about the representation of HIV in South African photography, was completed recently. Hodes's book Broadcasting the Pandemic: HIV on South African Television (HSRC, Cape Town, 2014) was launched at the Book Lounge on 3 June 2014, and Nattrass was awarded the UCT book award for the second time, for The AIDS Conspiracy: Science Fights Back (Columbia University Press, New York, 2013).

Workshop on Social Protection in Africa

Thirty scholars from all over South Africa, as well as Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania, gathered in the CSSR on 29/30 May for a two-day workshop on Social Protection in Africa.

Leila Patel (former Director-General in the South African Department of Welfare, and now Professor at the University of Johannesburg) gave a talk reflecting on "development social welfare", which she championed in the 1990s. Sarah Brooks (Professor at Ohio State University in the USA) presented her preliminary quantitative analysis of  cross-national data on conditional and unconditional cash transfers, explaining why some countries adopted the former and others the latter.

A series of panels focused on the implementation and local politics of social grants in South Africa, theoretical issues around grants, justice and distribution, the early history of social grants in South Africa between the 1920s and 1950s, the politics of policy reform in Uganda and Tanzania, and the politics of reform in Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. The workshop programme is attached here.

Rajen Govender's recent publications

Rajen Govender - an Associate Professor in the CSSR and Sociology Department - has published three co-authored papers already in 2014. Myers, Petersen, Kader, Koch, Manderscheid, Govender and Parry, "Identifying perceived barriers to monitoring service quality among substance abuse treatment providers in South Africa", was published in BMC Psychiatry in February. Kader, Seedat, Govender, Koch and Parry, "Hazardous and harmful use of alcohol and/or other drugs and health status among South African patients attending HIV clinics" was published in Aids and Behaviour in March. Bowen, Govender and Edwards, "Structural Equation Modeling of Occupational Stress in the Construction Industry" was published in the Journal of  Construction Engineering and Management in May.