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.


Media opportunity to foreground solutions to poverty and inequality

The Mandela Initiative has partnered with the News24 platform, Project Rise to raise awareness and debate about issues related to poverty, unemployment and inequality. Project Rise is a platform for “a solutions-focused discussion about the future and what we want to become” (Project Rise, About us). Having started during the #FeesMustFall period two years ago, the portal accepts written or video contributions. It provides an excellent opportunity to reach a mass audience, and we encourage you – and your networks – to make use of this opportunity to feed into the public discourses on poverty, unemployment and inequality. Several Mandela Initiative collaborators have contributed to Project Rise in the run-up and during the national workshop week in February. These discuss the “unfinished legacy of Mandela”; the progression of the Initiative in the context of poverty research in South Africa; healthy inequality; land reform; job creation in agriculture; and social cohesion.


Launching the report on the process and findings of the Mandela Initiative – Thursday, 27 September 2018

The draft synthesis report that informed discussions at the MI’s national workshop in February has been revised towards a final report that reflects on the Initiative’s work between 2013 and 2018, and with recommendations emerging out of the research findings. The report was presented at a seminar of the Poverty & Inequality Initiative, University of Cape Town, on 27 September 2018. The report is based on research summaries by 40 contributors and additional recommendations from the national workshop and includes examples of innovative local models of dealing with the country’s challenges. Whilst it reflects work in progress that needs more discussion, the report provides a possible framework for thinking about prioritising actions to eliminate poverty and reducing inequalities. It is accompanied by a toolkit to reading the report.