Welcome to the third newsletter of the Mandela Initiative, a multi-sectoral platform to investigate and develop strategies to overcome poverty and inequality.

With this issue, we have a special focus on work within the initiative that addresses labour and employment-related topics. We are particularly pleased to present short summaries of the preliminary findings of three of the Mandela Initiative-supported research projects that resonate with the newsletter theme. In particular, this focuses on:

  • the potential of rural employment creation in selected agricultural commodities;
  • labour law noncompliance for both wage and non-wage labour regulations in South Africa by measuring the violation of the minimum wage and other non-wage laws; and
  • the size, nature and consequence of strike activity in the South African economy.

We report on a research collaboration to provide a systematic overview of the country’s youth unemployment – of the evidence on its drivers, the policy landscape, and of current interventions that have a proven positive effect. Complementary to this topic is an article on a Mandela Initiative action dialogue that addressed youth skills development for job creation.

More generally, also read about:

  • two recent child-focused action dialogues: one to identify ways of improving children’s nutritional status, as measured by stunting; and the other which was the start of a multi-sectoral process to help inform government’s programme of action to reduce violence against children;
  • a new interactive online tool that presents data – from national to local level – on young people aged 15 – 24 years;
  • the online collation of a set of short videos that give remarkable insight into what it means to be living under conditions of great poverty in South Africa; and
  • new information on our website about the research projects completed for the Initiative, and presentations from our recent engagement on strategies to overcome inequality in South Africa.

We trust you will find this newsletter useful and inspiring, and we welcome feedback.

Francis Wilson
National co-ordinator

 

   In this issue

A special focus on labour and employment

This year marks the completion of research undertaken within the Mandela Initiative’s research programme, which was supported by funding from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). The research themes emerged out of the initiative’s founding conference in 2012, and the studies were designed to contribute to key national debates on critically important aspects of poverty and inequality. The studies focused on education, health policy, labour markets, gender and family relations, urban planning and development, land reform, rural job creation, and inequality broadly, and were led by Research Chairs of the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the NRF.

 

   Research: Job creation

 

Job creation in rural South Africa

Very high levels of unemployment in South Africa makes job creation an urgent necessity. The agricultural sector has been identified as a possible source of new employment opportunities. As part of the Mandela Initiative research programme, this project undertook to estimate the potential for employment creation in selected agricultural commodities. Prof. Ben Cousins, DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, reflects on some of the preliminary findings of the research. Read more

Estimating the wage and employment effects of a large increase in South Africa's agricultural minimum wage

What were the effects of a 52% increase in the minimum wage in the South Africa agricultural sector in 2013? In this working paper, researchers Vimal Ranchhod and Ihsaan Bassier from the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town, estimated short-run effects of this policy change on the employment and income of farmworkers. By using Quarterly Labour Force Survey data, they found that “the law had a substantial effect on the earnings of farmworkers who remained employed after the law came into effect, but that there was also a small and gradual decrease in agricultural employment”. This work was supported by a key partner of the Mandela Initiative – the Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth (REDI3X3), based at SALDRU, and supported by the National Treasury. Read the paper

 

   Research: Labour markets

Measuring labour law violation: An application to South Africa

Debates about the impact of labour regulations on labour market outcomes (e.g. wages and employment) are often contested and revolve around the legislation – whether it is too strict or too permissive. Very little attention is given to issues of enforcement and compliance, where the underlying assumption is that the regulations in question are adequately enforced. Yet in South Africa, and many other developing countries, this is not the case. Studies show that noncompliance with labour regulations is widespread. For one component of the Mandela Initiative’s labour markets theme, a research team led by Prof. Haroon Bhorat, DST-NRF South African Research Chair in Economic Growth, Poverty and Inequality: Exploring Interactions for South Africa, measured the extent of this noncompliance for both wage and non-wage labour regulations in South Africa by using an innovative technique. Read more

Examining the impact of strikes on the South African economy

South Africa has a strong history of strike action, with extensive media coverage of strike activity, but there is a distinct lack of empirical evidence on the costs of strikes to the local economy, and limited understanding of whether strikes move in the same direction as, or opposite to, business cycles. The second component of the Mandela Initiative’s labour markets research theme – also led by DST-NRF South African Research Chair Prof. Haroon Bhorat – focused on the size, nature and consequence of strike activity in the South African economy. This component of the two-part research agenda provides a more objective and informative understanding of the nature of strikes, and the impact of strike activity, in the country. Read more

 

   Research: Youth unemployment

 

Consolidating knowledge on youth unemployment

Several Mandela Initiative partners are collaborating on a systematic and rigorous assessment of the drivers of youth unemployment, alongside a review of the policy landscape of youth unemployment, and of current interventions that have a proven positive effect. This systematic overview is a partnership between the Poverty and Inequality Initiative, University of Cape Town; and the Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg. Supported by the Jobs Fund and REDI3x3, the project aims to foreground the gaps in policy and intervention, and to suggest ways to curb youth unemployment in South Africa. While solving this problem will require massive policy investments, political will and time, the two research leaders, Lauren Graham and Ariane De Lannoy, have pointed out that it is equally important to focus on what can be done in the interim to address young work-seekers’ needs. Read article, or visit the project online.

 

ACTION DIALOGUE: YOUTH EMPLOYMENT

Skills development for job creation

The South African economy’s sluggish growth has resulted in a rise in the unemployment rate, worse so for the youth: 54% of 15- to 24-year-olds are unemployed – more than half of the work-seeking youth of South Africa. One way of creating jobs in such a situation is by means of skills development. There is actually a shortage of skilled labour in the country. Towards the end of 2016, the Mandela Initiative hosted an action dialogue to explore what kinds of local skills development programmes are successful in job creation, and the inadequacies and obstacles along in the way. Organiser of the workshop, Emeritus Prof. Johann Maree, based at the University of Cape Town, discusses some of the learnings that emerged at the event. Read more

 

ACTION DIALOGUE: MIGRANT LABOUR

Migrant labour in South Africa: historical legacies and contemporary realities

We reported in our previous newsletter about this action dialogue which allowed academics, government and development practitioners to workshop how the legacies of migrant labour, and its current features, might be dealt with better at practical and policy levels. It was hosted in collaboration with the Human Sciences Research Council and the Fort Hare University. We are pleased to announce that the dialogue report is now available online.

 

PARTNER NEWS

Launch of the South African Youth Explorer

A new interactive online tool that presents data on young people across the country was launched on Youth Day, 16 June. The Youth Explorer was developed in a partnership between UCT’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative, OpenUp (formerly Code for South Africa), Statistics South Africa and the Economies of Regions Learning Network. Built on the experience of a pilot phase in collaboration with the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town, this tool provides national-to-local information on young people aged 15 – 24 in one easily accessible place. Simple data visualisations on young people’s education, economic opportunities, family and living environment, health and more are available at a range of geographic levels, from electoral wards to local municipalities and district municipalities. Read the launch press release or click here to start exploring.

Stories of poverty: “The Story Tent” videos

The Story Tent short films were made especially for the conference “Towards Carnegie3: Strategies to Overcome Poverty and Inequality in South Africa”, held at the University of Cape Town. A tent was set up in Tembisa for a week with permission from local leaders, and residents were invited to come tell their stories, which was then filmed. Over 70 people came and the final selection of stories provides a remarkable insight into what it means to be living under conditions of great poverty in South Africa. The videos were produced by Steps International and Videokuu Ltd., with sponsorship from the Ford Foundation and the Saville Foundation. The videos were recently repackaged and collated on the Mandela Initiative website. View videos

 

   Recent and upcoming events

 

Action dialogue on child malnutrition

About a quarter of South Africa’s children under three years of age are nutritionally stunted, and stunting rates have been largely unchanged for the last 40 years. The persistence of chronic under-nutrition in the country is also coupled with rapid growth in obesity, and research has shown that these phenomena are closely related and should be tackled together. This situation is a major concern because adequate nutrition is crucial for human development, the ability to learn and be economically productive. This action dialogue, convened by Emeritus Prof. Francis Wilson in partnership with David Harrison of the DG Murray Trust, brought together selected participants from across the country to pool ideas for action that might prove effective in improving the nutritional status (as measured by stunting) of all children in South Africa. Read more

 

 

Intersectoral action to reduce violence against children in South Africa

Children were also the focus of the action dialogue in May when, shortly before Child Protection Week 2017, government, academic and civil society representatives came together to facilitate agreement on joint actions to reduce violence against children and break the intergenerational cycle of violence in South Africa. This Mandela Initiative dialogue was hosted in partnership with the Children’s Institute and the Safety and Violence Initiative (both at the University of Cape Town), UNICEF South Africa and the national Department of Social Development. It was part of an ongoing multi-sectoral process to help inform government’s programme of action to reduce violence against women and children. A dialogue report is pending. Read press release

 

 

Engagement on strategies to overcome inequality

A significant increase in research and policy debates on strategies to overcome South African inequality over the last few years has raised a need to consolidate and systematise local learnings on inequality along with lessons from similar processes internationally. In June, (primarily) researchers and (past and present) government officials, each with intersecting involvement in the Mandela Initiative, gathered for a workshop with key local and several international contributors to pursue this goal. The engagement was convened by Prof Murray Leibbrandt, of UCT’s Poverty and Inequality Initiative, and Finn Tarp, the director the World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), with support from the Programme to Support Pro-poor Policy Development, an European Union-funded initiative in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. The event undertook to consolidate local and international thinking and policy practice, and to map a work agenda that would lead to a report and a set of well-motivated and well-processed policy proposals by year end. Read concept note or view presentations.

 

 

Community of Practice workshop

With the Mandela Initiative research programme concluding its work this year, the research teams gathered in May to discuss the research results and debate their policy implications with key actors from government and non-governmental agencies. Under the overall convenorship of Professor Ben Cousins of the University of the Western Cape, the discussions were hosted by the researchers who are members of the Mandela Initiative and who work in the areas of poverty and inequality. All recipients of the South African Research Chairs Initiative, a Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation (NRF) partnership. The programme was shaped by engaging with the research knowledge as a Community of Practice, which is defined by the NRF as “research-led alliances, in which established researchers collaborate to produce solution-oriented research findings with an intention to translate research outputs into tangible outcomes, and influence policy development and implementation through communication of the necessary research findings”. A workshop summary will be published soon. View research summaries.

 

 


Action dialogues in the pipeline

We are planning several action dialogues for the remainder of 2017. Keep an eye on our website for more information as we finalise arrangements.

 

MI IN THE NEWS

News24: ‘Violence against children in South Africa – a national disaster’. 14 June 2017.

Daily Maverick: Op-ed: Mandela’s economic legacy. 1 June 2017.

Cape Talk: Discussion: How can we improve the safety of South African children? 30 May 2017.

IOL: #ChildProtectionWeek: Child abuse in SA a cause for alarm. 30 May 2017.

The Mercury: A national disaster? 30 May 2017, p. 5.

The Star: Child abuse in SA cause for alarm. 30 May 2017, p. 8.

SABC News: ‘Effective prevention interventions are needed to stop child abuse’. 29 May 2017.

IOL: SA's child violence time bomb. 25 May 2017.

Cape Argus: Child violence at tipping point. 25 May 2017, p. 1.

Times LIVE: Failed by parents‚ failed by the state: Summit on violence against children squares up to massive challenge. 24 May 2017.

The Rep: SA failing its children as concern over violence grows. 24 May 2017.

Sowetan LIVE: Failed by parents‚ failed by the state: Summit on violence against children squares up to massive challenge. 24 May 2017.

SABC Digital News/YouTube: Lucy Jamieson on child protection systems in SA. 24 May 2017.

Weekend Argus: Dialogue aims to bring child killings to end. 20 May 2017, p. 1.

 

Contributors

This newsletter was written and compiled by Charmaine Smith, with much-appreciated contributions from:

Haroon Bhorat – Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town; Ravi Kanbur – Cornell University, USA; Ben Stanwix and Amy Thornton – both Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

Haroon Bhorat – Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town; Derek Yu – Development Policy Research Unit and University of the Western Cape; Safia Khan and Amy Thornton – both Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town.

Ben Cousins – Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS), University of the Western Cape.

Lauren Graham – Centre for Social Development in Africa, University of Johannesburg; and Ariane De Lannoy – Poverty and Inequality Initiative, University of Cape Town.

Johann Maree – University of Cape Town.

Vimal Ranchhod and Ihsaan Bassier – University of Cape Town.

Thank you to the MI Secretariat members Murray Leibbrandt, Francis Wilson and Haajirah Esau for fact-checking and peer review.

 

 

For feedback or more information about the Mandela Initiative,
contact the communication manager, Charmaine Smith,
on 021 – 650 1816 or at charmaine.smith@uct.ac.za.