Critical Thinking Forum

On 27 June 2017, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) and the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at UJ hosted a Mail & Guardian Critical Thinking Forum on ‘Finding a developmental consensus in an era of radical economic transformation’.

The panelists and moderator were:

  • Dr Mzukisi Qobo, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at UJ;
  • Prof Simon Roberts, Executive Director of the Centre for Competition, Regulation and Economic Development CCRED) at UJ;
  • Christopher Wood, an economist at the Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) think-tank; and
  • Sithembile Mbete, lecturer at and Associate Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation at the University of Pretoria.

Background

A recurrent theme of this year’s edition of the IJR’s annual Transformation Audit is the need for two key social actors – business and the government – to pool their collective resources and forge a new consensus for long-term social and economic change. However, in the post-1994 South African context, the relationship between business and the state has been complex and multi-layered. Mistrust and misunderstanding between business and the government have deepened over time. On the one hand, perceptions persist that large South African corporates resist social transformation, and are not prepared to contribute towards addressing the structural legacy of apartheid. At the same time, rhetoric that espouses radical economic solutions, without putting substantive alternatives on the table, poses an equally perilous threat to the cohesion of South African society.

In light of this, members of the public were invited to a moderated discussion on the possibility of achieving a new social compact, implying a ‘consensus’, at a time when the word ‘radical’ is increasingly being used in relation to potential solutions.

 

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Launch of book by Charles Nqakula

ON 22 June 2017, the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, in partnership with the Mutloatse Arts Heritage Trust and Real African Publishers, hosted the launch of The People’s War: Reflections of an ANC Cadre, by Charles Nqakula.

Message from Essop Pahad

‘The People’s War is an outstanding contribution to the historiography of our revolutionary struggle. It is well-written, easy to read, and the many twists and turns in the political life of Charles and Nosiviwe are recounted in a refreshingly honest and engaging manner. It should be read and treasured by those who seek a better understanding of the historic, painful and bitter struggle for national liberation, peace, justice, democracy and human rights in South Africa. As Charles points out, it is the masses at the centre, of which is the organised working class, that make history, and if properly organised and mobilised, will continue to sustain, defend, promote and protect the values and progressive traditions of this glorious movement, the ANC.’

About Charles Nqakula

Charles Nqakula was born in Cradock in the Eastern Cape Province on 13 September 1942. As an adult he became a journalist and, in the early 1970s, he joined Imvo Zabantsundu (Black Opinion) in King William’s Town. He left Imvo in 1976 and joined East London’s Daily Dispatch.

Working with Thenjiwe Mtintso, he helped to influence black journalists in the Border region the main towns of which were East London, King William’s Town, and Queenstown) to join the Union of Black Journalists (UBJ). Nqakula was elected Deputy President to Joe Thloloe at UBJ’s National Congress that year.

Nqakula was banned and declared a prohibited immigrant in terms of the Aliens Act of 1937, and after he was arrested for entering South Africa ‘illegally’, he skipped bail and went into exile. He was trained militarily and politically at the MK camps in Angola, Russia,and East Germany before being infiltrated back to South Africa to build underground structures for the ANC.

After the unbanning of the ANC, SACP, and other people’s organisations, he was elected as the SACP’s Deputy General Secretary to General Secretary Chris Hani. After Hani’s assassination in 1993, Nqakula became the general secretary and, later, the Party’s chairperson. He was co-opted into the ANC’s NEC towards the end of 1993. In 1999, Nqakula became a parliamentarian and subsequently a Minister of Police and of Defence.

In 2009, President Zuma pulled him out of Parliament and made him his political adviser. He asked him in 2010 to lead South Africa’s mediation of the Zimbabwe political impasse, and appointed him as South African ambassador to Mozambique in 2012. Nqakula’s mediation included a number of countries when Thabo Mbeki was president. The longest facilitation by Nqakula under Mbeki was in Burundi from 2006 to 2009.

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Discussion with Jay Naidoo

From left to right are Bishop Clyde Ramalaine, Prof Chris Landsberg, Jay Naidoo, and Ralph Mathekga.

ON 4 May 2017, the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy and the UJ Library, in partnership with Penguin Random House, hosted a discussion with Jay Naidoo, author of Change: Organising Tomorrow, Today.

In this book, Naidoo harnesses  his experience as a labour union organiser, government minister,social entrepreneur and global thought leader, and explored ways of solving some of the world’s biggest problems. Drawing on his experiences in South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil, Bangladesh and other countries, he presents a variety of options for ending poverty and global warming, with a focus on organising in our communities and building change from below and beyond borders.

The backtext states: ‘Naidoo’s message is unequivocal: significant action must be taken immediately if we want future generations to live in a world that we take for granted today.’

From left to right are Bishop Clyde Ramalaine, Prof Chirs Landsberg,  Jay Naidoo, and Ralph Mathekga.

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Discussion of books on SA cricket

 

ON 4 April 2017, the UJ Department of Sociology, the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy and the UJ Library, in partnership with Jacana Media, hosted a discussion about South African cricket with Ashwin Desai and André Odendaal.

The discussion was based on the books Reverse Sweep: A Story of South African Cricket Since Apartheid, written by Desai, and Cricket and Conquest: The History of South African Cricket Retold, Volume 1: 1795-1914, written by Odendaal, Krish Reddy, Christopher Merrett and Jonty Winch.

Reverse Sweep is an account of cricket in post-apartheid South Africa, from the tumultuous Gatting tour during which the seeds of cricket unity were sown, to the Hansie Cronje saga and the changes of leadership from Ali Bacher to Gerald Majola and, more recenly, Haroon Lorgat.

Cricket and Conquest and its companion volumes explain how racism came to be built into the fabric of South African cricket ‘culture’ and ‘traditions’, and how this was tied to the broader historical processes that shaped the country. The book breaks new ground in describing the unique experiences of different cricket communities.

The discussion was facilitated by  Prof Chris Landsberg, holder of the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy.

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Book on Mbeki’s foreign policy

ON Thursday 23 February 2017, the Hon Kgalema Motlanthe, former president of the Republic of South Africa, delivered the keynote address at the Johannesburg launch of Consistent of Confused: The Politics of Mbeki’s Foreign Policy, 1995—2007, by Dr Oscar Van Heerden.

The launch was hosted by Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation at UJ and and Prof Chris Landsberg, holder of the NRF Chair of African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at UJ.

According to the backtext, Mbeki’s vision of an African Renaissance was a mammoth undertaking. At its centre was a determination that the continent needed to demonstrate that Africa’s challenges could, and would, be solved by Africans themselves. However, South Africa’s foreign policy choices were not so easily discernible. Hot topics included Zimbabwe, South Africa’s role in the UN Security Council, and how it should position itself on the continent. Finding a lasting solution to the difficulties in Zimbabwe via the SADC mediation process headed by Mbeki was easier said than done.

A newly democratic South Africa was elected as a non-permanent member to the UN Security Council; however, an unreformed UN system presented numerous complexities in this regard, especially in the realm of the often obvious and logical rhetoric by the five permanent members. A globalised world also meant that trade relations were not obvious and straightforward when negotiating a massive trade deal with the EU, with significant implications for SADC.

‘This book attempts to navigate these complexities, and to illustrate the difficulties that bureaucrats have to contend with while satisfying the clear objectives of advancing the “national Interest” of the Republic, sometimes at great cost.’

Prof Landsberg has commented as follows: ‘This book provides a nuanced analysis of Mbeki’s foreign policy initiatives, and facilitates a structured discussion of South Africa’s foreign policy in a changing world environment. We hope it will inform the country’s future foreign policy direction.’

Dr Van Heerden is an International Relations scholar, focusing on international political economy, with an emphasis on Africa and SADC. He holds master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Previously, he studied at Turfloop and Wits University. He is an active fellow of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflections (MISTRA), and a trustee of the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation.

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Seminar on parliamentary diplomacy

On 9 November 2016, the NRF Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy held a seminar on ‘The rise of parliamentary diplomacy: insights from the EU and South Africa’. The seminar was based on the book entitled Parliamentary Diplomacy in European and Global Governance, edited by Stelios Stavridis and Davor Jancic (Brill 2017) that reflects on the role of the European and South African parliaments as diplomatic actors.

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Symposium on youth and international justice

On 5 October 2016, the NRF Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy, Africa Legal Aid, and the Division for Internationalisation of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) held a symposium entitled ‘Engaging South Africa’s Youth in International Justice’. This formed part of UJ’s Decolonising Knowledge Thought Leadership Dialogue Series. For the Mail & Guardian Africa article on the symposium, click here.

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Workshop on teaching social science in an age of Apps

On 12 August 2016, the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS) and the NRF Chair in African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy hosted a workshop on ‘Teaching social science in an age of Apps: prospects and pitfalls’. The speaker was Prof Thomas Biersteker of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, a global leader in the field of international relations, and a pioneer in the development of Apps for teaching international relations. The discussants were Prof David Hornsby of Wits University, and Prof Thea de Wet of the University of Johannesburg.

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Workshop about South African Foreign Policy

On 5 August 2016, the NRF Chair in African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) held a workshop entitled ‘Who Makes South African Foreign Policy?’ Analysts presented a series of research papers analysing the role of key stakeholders and actors, and how they have shaped South African foreign policy during the first two decades of democracy.

This workshop built on a previous workshop, held in 2015, entitled ‘Towards a Participatory Foreign Policy’, aimed at considering the role of a range of stakeholders in shaping South Africa’s foreign policy.

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Dialogue with Dr Adekeye Adejabo

On 25 May 2016, the NRF Chair in African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy and the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation, in partnership with the UJ Library, hosted a discussion with Dr Adekeye Adebajo about his book Thabo Mbeki: The Rise and Fall of Africa’s Philosopher-King.

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