The Mandela Initiative is a multi-sector platform to investigate and develop strategies to overcome poverty and inequality.

The Initiative is a university-led national endeavour in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Through research, workshops and public dialogue with a diverse range of stakeholders (from academia, government, civil society, churches, business and unions) it investigates key strategies to overcome South Africa’s development challenges. The Initiative was established with the encouragement of (then) Minister Trevor Manuel – while he was chairperson of the National Planning Commission – in recognition of the analytical capabilities of the country’s universities to help with the formulation of effective strategies to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality. Its two-pronged approach of research and dialogue was launched at the “Towards Carnegie3” conference in 2012, the outcome of which informed the five major themes to frame its work: social cohesion, health, education, labour and rural and urban renewal.

Workshop 12–14 February

The Mandela Initiative hosted a national workshop to report on its work since 2012. The workshop involved government, academia and civil society in the hope of contributing to reinvigorating the debate about accelerating the pace of change in South Africa. The gathering aimed to anchor the MI’s contributions within an analysis of the current South African political and economic context; share the recommendations from the MI-related workstreams to advance the goal of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality; and engage critically with the potential impact of the recommendations on eliminating structural poverty and inequality. Ways of promoting popular conversations and debate about what needs to be done to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, beyond the MI, were also  discussed. A draft synthesis report that reflects the findings of the contributions to the Initiative was prepared to assist participants in the national gathering.

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National Gathering of the Mandela Initiative 12-14 February 2018

On 12 February, Ivor Chipkin addressed the Mandela Initiative Workshop with his paper, After Capture: Notes on the current situtation and some thoughts on democratising the future.

In the classical texts, tyranny, as opposed to despotism, refers to a form of government that breaks its own rules. This is a useful starting point for discussing political developments in South Africa over the last ten years and the civil-society response to it. The African National Congress government under Jacob Zuma became more and more tyrannical as it set itself up against the Constitution and the rule of law. Civil-society has been reinvigorated in this context, largely to force government to play by the rules of the game…

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