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.


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We are pleased to present our third newsletter, which focuses on labour and employment-related topics. In particular, we present the preliminary findings of three Initiative-supported studies that resonate with this theme: on rural employment creation in selected agricultural commodities; labour law noncompliance in South Africa; and strike activity in the national economy. Read also about a systematic overview of the country’s youth unemployment and an action dialogue on youth skills development for job creation. More generally, we report on recent child-focused action dialogues – on stunting in children, and on violence against children – as well as an interactive online tool that presents data on young people; our online collection of short videos on people's experiences of living in poverty in South Africa; and online summaries of research completed for the Initiative and presentations from a recent engagement on strategies to overcome inequality in South Africa.



  • "After migrant labour" workshop (27 & 28 September 2017)

    Leading scholars are meeting this week to take forward a joint initiative started earlier this year by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Mandela Initiative to explore the legacies of migrant labour in South Africa. The purpose of the workshop is to finalise contributions to a new book that will be published next year by the HSRC Press on the consequences and legacies of the migrant labour system for the country’s development. As this system had significant implications for the nature of family formation, the book dovetails with the focus area of families in the Mandela Initiative. The workshop will be run by Professors Leslie Bank (HSRC), Dorrit Posel (Wits University) and Francis Wilson (University of Cape Town/Mandela Initiative).