Civil society watch, 13 – 17 July

The impact of Covid-19 on South Africa’s health system, education, and the economy takes centre stage this week. 

The impact of Covid-19 on South Africa’s health system, education, and the economy takes centre stage this week. 
Nelson Mandela waves to the crowd after speaking at the Colonial Stadium for the World Reconciliation Day Concert September 8, 2000 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: Hamish Blair/Liaison)

Don't forget that Saturday 18 July South Africa and the world will be celebrating Nelson Mandela Day. In the time of Covid-19 the values Madiba espoused–- solidarity, self-sacrifice, equality- have never been more important. Do your 67 minutes of public service in honour of the former President’s commitment to human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation. 

But then make every day a Mandela day.

On Monday 13 July, the University of Cape Town continues with their series of unscripted ‘conversations’ around how to re-imagine the new global university in the current and post-Covid world.

This week, join Rifat Atun (professor in global health systems, Harvard University), Kelly Chibale, (professor in organic chemistry, director of H3D, UCT), Prof Catherine Odora Hoppers, (Unisa and Gulu University).

The second event, which will be moderated Salome Maswime, (obstetrician and gynaecologist, professor in global surgery, UCT) will focus on whether or not the disruption to the current higher education model can bring about a shift in the centre of gravity in international collaborations and help us to reimagine a different approach that empowers African institutions to take the lead in collaborative projects and partnerships both within and outside the continent.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed life as we know it. When it comes to the financial effects, it has had a significant impact on an individual, business, and macroeconomic level. As the situation continues to evolve, it is becoming increasingly evident that many of the changes are here for good. Civil society organisations like the Institute for Economic Justice and the Budget Justice Coalition have been raising questions about what a fairer economy, one that narrows rather than increases inequality, should look like. But what does big business and the financial sector think? 

On Tuesday 14 July, the Nedbank Group is hosting a virtual discussion centred around the post-Covid economy. Mike Brown (Nedbank CEO) and Nicky Weimar (Nedbank chief economist) will be conversing about the important role South Africa’s banking sector has played and will need to play going forward in the Covid-19 environment.

For a thought-provoking conversation about what the post Covid-19 economy may look like, with an introduction on the role that South African banks can play, you can email organisers Sakiwe Ngcupe or Mbali Msimango to reserve your spot.

On the same day, Equal Education will be holding two pre-launch virtual panels to discuss their upcoming Charter for an Equal Education.

The first event will focus on the decolonisation of education through the curriculum and language.

Panellists include Dr Makhosazana Khoza (CEO of UKhokho and former South African Parliamentarian), Dr Brian Ramadiro (deputy director at University of Fort Hare), Nompumelelo Mohohlwane (deputy director at the Department of Basic Education), and Athambile Masola (co-founder of Molo Mhlaba and lecturer at the University of Pretoria).

Speakers will address questions such as: what does decolonising education in South Africa mean and look like, and can we speak of decolonising education without involving language and the curriculum?

The second event, titled “school governance: The South African reality regarding governance in schools”, will be held on Thursday, 16 July. 

 Panellists will include Matakanye Matakanya (general secretary at National Association of School Governing Bodies), Zoliswa Dlamini (SGB parent member and activist at Equal Education), Prof Yusuf Sayed (University of Sussex and founding director of the Centre for International Teacher Education at CPUT), and Tarryn Cooper-Bell (supervising attorney at Equal Education Law Centre).

Both events will be streamed live on Equal Education’s Facebook page.

On Wednesday 15 July, the UKZN Centre for Civil Society is inviting you to a Zoom session on the impact of Covid-19 on the South African health system.

Vuyiseka Dubula, a leading HIV activist and former General Secretary of the TAC, will discuss how Covid-19 has not only had a severe impact on health systems from the perspective of access by those who are already marginalised, but also on those living with chronic conditions and therefore more susceptible to the virus. Worsening socio-economic conditions have exacerbated this. Going forward a foundation needs to be laid for equitable access to a vaccine when it becomes available.

On the same day, a consortium of 30 social science researchers will release the findings of the National Income Dynamics Study Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NICD-CRAM). The survey is the largest non-medical Covid-19 research project currently underway in South Africa. In this webinar researchers will present the main findings from ‘wave one’ of the study, and reflect on the outcomes of the 11 research papers that will also be made public at the webinar.

Members of civil society are encouraged to register for the virtual conference.

At 12:00, the Daily Maverick is hosting a webinar focused on the role of venture capital for SMEs in revitalising South Africa’s economy post Covid-19.

Join Business Maverick journalist Ray Mahlaka in conversation with Abu Addae (co-founder and CEO of LifeCheq), Amrish Narrandes (Head of Unlisted Equity Transactions at Futuregrowth), and Aisha Pandor (co-founder and CEO of SweepSouth) as they discuss how South Africa’s venture capital industry could support SMEs in a Covid-19 world

On Thursday 16 July, join the Institute for Poverty, Landy and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) for a discussion on “beyond elite capture: Promoting livelihoods and jobs in South Africa’s land reform”.

South Africa’s land reform was originally expected to create new livelihood and employment opportunities for smallholder farmers. Yet, there is growing evidence of elite capture and an increasingly narrow focus on the promotion of a large-scale commercial farming model. The speakers will give insight on what has happened in land reform and how alternative land use and farming options may improve rural livelihoods and create a significant increase in jobs in the agricultural sector.

Dr Farai Mtero (senior researcher, PLAAS) and Professor Ben Cousins (PLAAS founder and Emeritus Professor, University of the Western Cape) will converse on topics such as what the been the overall trajectory of and constraints to successful land reform in South Africa, and who has benefited from land reform in South Africa to date.

On the same day, LexisNexis South Africa and Werkmans Attorneys are hosting a webinar on business rescue in the time of Covid-19.

Topics will include exploring opportunities to reset a company’s business, the advantages of business rescue and what a company stands to accomplish if they commence with Business rescue, and the role that leadership plays in ensuring the sustainability of a company.

Join Eric Levenstein (director and head of the insolvency, business rescue and restructuring practice at Werkmans Attorneys) and Videsha Proothveerajh (CEO of LexisNexis South Africa), for a facilitated conversation discussing the impact that the new economic dispensation will have on South African directors of companies and how they are expected to manage ongoing obstacles and challenges.

At 14:30, the AIDS and Rights Alliance for southern Africa (ARASA), in collaboration with CoAct, will be hosting their second webinar in a series of four 1 and a half hour stand-alone webinars on harm reduction and drug policy in the Southern and East African region for community activists, people who use drugs, policy makers, and other stakeholders.

The webinar, titled “opioid overdose and Naloxone”, will be moderated by Mat Southwell from CoAct and will feature experts from the southern and east African region, including guest speaker, Happy Assan, from the Tanzanian Network of People who Use Drugs. Register for the webinar here.

On Friday 17 July, Lawyers for Human Rights together with Liliesleaf, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation and Maverick Citizen is hosting a webinar titled Building solidarity in the time of Covid-19. The webinar is the first in a series that will focus on migration, migrants’ rights and building inclusive societies. It will consist of discussions on mobility, inclusivity, sustainable health systems, and the control and eradication of communicable diseases such as Covid-19, HIV/Aids, and tuberculosis. Email the organisers for further information.

On the same day, the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) is hosting a video conference titled Saving the academic year at all costs? The brutality of an elite education system, navigating poverty and surviving the 2020 Covid-19 academic year.

Hlengiwe Ndlovu (Doctoral fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand) and Chwayita Ngogela (Rhodes University student) will explore the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown on poor high-school and university students experience navigating access to education in a time of heightened economic and social distress. You can register for the conference here

Finally, on Saturday 18th July, the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture will be delivered by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres. The theme for this year’s lecture, Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A new Social Contract for a New Era, will focus on the current inequalities that have come under sharp relief during the Covid-19 pandemic and will look ahead to what we must do to address the world’s fragilities and build a fair globalisation. DM/MC

South Africa is full of activists whose voices and campaigns need to be heard, and we want to report on all of them. So, wherever you live, if you have virtual events or meetings which you think other activists ought to know about, write to us.

Also please sign up for our weekly newsletter here.


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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