Dalai Lama visit

Posted on October 11, 2011. Filed under: News |

This morning, IJR Policy and Analysis programme manager Jan Hofmeyr has an article in Business Day on the controversy over the Dalai Lama’s most recent application for a visa to visit South Africa. I have included the first few paragraphs here – then follow the link below to read the full article on the Business Day website.

JAN HOFMEYR: Policy communication

State must learn how to negotiate and communicate tough moral decisions in an increasingly complex world
BOTH the noise and silence following the cancellation of the Dalai Lama’s visit to attend Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s birthday celebration speak volumes about our collective search for national identity, perhaps more than it does about the nature of our relationship with China. It says a lot about who we think we ought to be and what we are becoming in a world that looks very different from the normative environment that shaped our democratic state in the 1990s. The matter may be specific, but the issues that underpin it are not peculiar to SA. Seismic changes in the global configuration of power over a short period have altered our conceptions of what are “acceptable”, “appropriate” and the “norm” in international relations. In this fast-changing world, normative frameworks are struggling to adapt to these new realities that, just a few years ago, were unimaginable. These are uncertain times, with global thought-leaders increasingly having to admit their confusion on opinion pages. Political-risk consultation has become a lucrative business. Full article here.
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Introducing NHI

Posted on August 12, 2011. Filed under: News |

There has been a lot of discussion this week about the new National Health Insurance (NHI) system that will be implemented in South Africa – though it’s outside the realm of my usual focus, I thought it might be good to share this speech by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, which answers a few basic questions on everybody’s minds, and the link to government’s NHI Green Paper.

Additional useful resources, if you are interested in more background on the origins of this system, include the Social Security and Retirement Reform second discussion paper, released by National Treasury in 2007, and the Reform of Retirement Provisions feasibility studies released by the Department of Social Development later in the same year. Both also show the links between health insurance and other components of South Africa’s social security system.

I am sure there are lots of other great resources and analytical pieces out there – feel free to share your views or links in a comment below!

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Public response to Miyeni column

Posted on August 2, 2011. Filed under: News |

Kate Lefko-Everett

Ever since yesterday’s edition of The Sowetan reached newsstands – or for many of us, went up online – there has been an enormous public response to Eric Miyeni’s column, entitled Haffajee does it for white masters‘.

Miyeni’s charges against the City Press, and editor-in-chief Ferial Haffajee in particular, have provoked a wide range of reactions ranging from outrage and dismay, to a public endorsement by ANC Youth League president Julius Malema during an open call-in show hosted by Redi Tlhabi on Talk Radio 702 this morning (you can listen to the podcast, which includes a brief input from Miyeni, here).

Haffajee has indicated that she will pursue legal advice, and according to the same report by SAPA, the Sowetan has announced the immediate discontinuation of Miyeni’s column. SAPA quotes a statement by Avusa editor-in-chief Mondli Makhanya and Sowetan acting editor Len Maseko:

Eric Miyeni expresses robust views shared by many South Africans. This is why he has continued writing a column in the Sowetan newspaper… However, the expression of these views should not be accompanied by the promotion or condonation of violence against those who hold differing views.” (source)

By Monday evening, the Sowetan had removed the article from its website, although interested readers can still view it  here via online cache. City Press has also asked readers to share their views here.

It was interesting to note that Malema, whose family finances and their recent treatment in the media are at the heart of Miyeni’s article, raised several important points on air today, including that of the potentially divisive and destabilising consequences of continued and profound economic inequality in South Africa.

However, it seems to me that we may have lost our way, when important national debate surrounding these issues includes allusions to, and recollections of violence? Your thoughts?

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Public Protector Releases report on SAPS Durban Offices

Posted on July 14, 2011. Filed under: News |

So if you have been online, listening to the radio or watching the news at all today, you will have seen the very highly-publicised release of Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s investigation ‘into complaints and allegations of maladministration, improper and unlawful conduct by the Department of Public Works and the South African Police Service (SAPS) relating to the leasing of the SAPS office accommodation in Durban’.

There will no doubt be lots of media analysis to come, but if you have the time it’s definitely worth reading the full report here.

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IJR sends deepest condolences to Asmal family

Posted on June 23, 2011. Filed under: News |

Professor Kader Asmal addresses IJR Dialogue, 2009

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation extends our heartfelt condolences to the family of the late Professor Kader Asmal, who passed away yesterday.

Dr. Louise Asmal has been a committed member of the Board of the IJR since the organisation’s founding, and the Asmal family’s critical contributions to the struggle for a truly democratic South Africa cannot be overstated.

Professor Asmal was an inspiration to us at the Institute, as indeed he was to many others in this country and around the world. We will miss his leadership, and his courage to keep working for the society we all wish to see. We are ever grateful for his active support and participation in many of our events and initiatives over the last decade.

On behalf of the Institute, our thoughts and prayers are with the Asmal family, and we wish you every strength as you negotiate the difficult days and weeks ahead.

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Presidency releases NPC Diagnostic Overview

Posted on June 10, 2011. Filed under: News, Parliament |

Kate Lefko-Everett

NPC Diagnostic Overview

Yesterday in Parliament, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel released a new Diagnostic Overview document developed by the National Planning Commission, as well as elements of South Africa’s draft Vision Statement for 2030.

Manuel framed the release as an ‘engagement about our collective future as a nation’, with the aim of ‘through dialogue, consultation, debate and analysis… [turning] these elements into a vision statement for South Africa for 2030 that all South Africans can support’.

In his speech, the Minister highlighted nine key challenges facing South Africa and identified by Commissioners, while also acknowledging the ‘tremendous progress’ made in the country thus far. These challenges are:

  • Too few South Africans are employed
  • The quality of education for most black people remains poor
  • Poorly located, inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure
  • Spatial challenges continue to marginalise the poor
  • South Africa’s growth path is highly resource-intensive and hence unsustainable
  • The ailing public health system confronts a massive disease burden
  • The performance of the public service is uneven
  • Corruption undermines state legitimacy and service delivery
  • South Africa remains a divided society

On this final point, the Diagnostic Overview reports the following:

‘We have made significant progress in uniting our country since 1994. Racism and prejudice has declined and we have infinitely more interaction, as equals, between black and white South Africans. Despite this progress, we remain a divided society and the major dividing line in society is still race. To resolve these divisions will take time and a careful balance between healing the divisions of our past and broadening economic opportunities to more people, particularly black people.‘ (p 26)

The report also explores the consequences of ‘mistrust and short-termism’, the ‘poor performances of some public institutions’, and crime for prospects of national unification.

These are important issues, and there is clear coherence with some of the themes and indicators of the SA Reconciliation Barometer. However, I also want to note that our nationally-representative survey has found the following in recent rounds:

  • When asked about the ‘biggest division in the country’ in 2010, 25% of South Africans responded that this was between ‘supporters of different political parties’ and 25% between ‘poor and middle income/wealthy South Africans’. A further 21% replied that the biggest division was between ‘people of different races’.
  • In 2010, just under half (47%) of all South Africans believed race relations have improved in the country since before 1994.
  • Levels of interaction and socialisation have increased between South Africans of different historically-defined race groups, but these remain highest among the most affluent households.

On behalf of the Reconciliation Barometer project, I am encouraged that addressing these source of social division is regarded as an important priority for South Africa, and look forward to opportunities to engage further with the Commission!

SA Reconciliation Barometer Survey Report, 2010

National Planning Commission Diagnostic Overview Report

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Fanie du Toit in Doha

Posted on May 6, 2011. Filed under: News |

This week, IJR Executive Director Fanie du Toit has been in Doha participating in a pre-forum for the 4th annual forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC), which is scheduled to take place in Qatar in December.

To hear more about the pre-forum, have a look at this article in the Gulf Times! I have also included a short interview clip below….

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Desmond Tutu Lecture – ‘The Musings of a Decrepit’

Posted on March 11, 2011. Filed under: News |

First, let me start this post by saying on behalf of the IJR that our heartfelt thoughts are with those in Japan in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the country this morning. With current tsunami warnings for New Zealand, the Phillipines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii and others, we urge you all to take good care. President Zuma has just issued a statement conveying South Africa’s deepest condolences to the people of Japan.


Earlier this week, IJR Patron and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu delivered what was widely reported to be among his final lectures at the University of the Western Cape, where he has served as Chancellor for many years. Entitled ‘The Musings of a Decrepit’, Tutu recalls South Africa’s transition to democracy and the important role of the University in the anti-apartheid struggle.

He also, however, dedicates much of the lecture to reminding South Africans about the need for continued vigilance and the dangers of silence:

“Sometimes, many times, I have wanted to be circumspect, even to be silent, but it has not been possible and most of my utterances, no all of my utterances are inspired, driven by my love for God, and a passionate love form my country and for my compatriots. And so I condemned the pernicious Aids policies of a previous administration.”

Tutu, while expressing his love of South Africa and fondness for President Zuma, called for “a truly compassionate country” in which no one lacked food and “everyone mattered and knew they mattered”. He asked,

“Why are we not building decent homes for our people when we have shown we can build state-of-the-art stadiums? Why are we letting our towns and cities deteriorate with poor maintenance and services, especially for the poor who are beginning to show their impatience and anger in nasty demonstrations?”

Tutu also warned of the corrosive effects of corruption and a lack of accountability, referring specifically to President Zuma’s own corruption trial, the need for a judicial commission of inquiry into the Arms Deal, the medical parole of Shabir Shaik, and business relationships between the Zuma and Gupta families

The Presidency, however, declined to respond. Read the full lecture here.

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Future SA Blow-Up?

Posted on March 9, 2011. Filed under: News |


A few days ago, Reuters published the findings of a report by UK-based Toscafund, which foreshadows future conflict in South Africa likened to that seen in the Middle East and North Africa over the past few months.

Chief economist and partner at the hedge fund – and according to the article, “known for being outspoken in his predictions” – Savvas Savouri cites issues including emigration and “a lack of centralised leadership” as key drivers of potential future instability. Savouri commented,

 “It’s socially, politically and demographically flawed. It will malfunction within 15 years. It will go the way of MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) but the blow-up will be much more serious.”

As someone newly exposed to the science – and art – of scenario planning, I personally would foresee different circumstances on South Africa’s horizon! (have a look at the Dinokeng Scenarios, for example…)

Readers, your thoughts?

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IJR wins Turquoise Harmony Institute Award

Posted on February 21, 2011. Filed under: News |

Today I am blogging from Johannesburg, where the IJR is hosting a Regional Consultation on “The International Criminal Court and Community-Level Reconciliation” – sitting around the table with amazing colleagues and eminent experts on transitional justice from Africa and around the world!

But to report on a recent accolade, over the weekend the IJR received an award from the Turquoise Harmony Institute, in recongnition of work in promoting reconciliation in Africa. To read more about the ceremony and the other recipients recognised by the Turquoise Harmony Institute, have a look at this article that appeared in The Sowetan this morning.

And just an aside from me, I am pretty sure that Minister Pador is pictured alongside the article, and not former parliamentary Speaker Frene Ginwala!

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