22 February 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Rulanzen Martin
Politcal Sciene read more
From left; Prof Virgil Hawkins, Prof Jakkie Cilliers from the Institute for Security Studies, Prof Hussein Solomon, Prof Heidi Hudson, Prof Francis Petersen, and Prof Theo Neethling, head of the Department Political Studies and Governance.

If you attended the two-day workshop hosted by our Department of Political Sciences and Governance, you would understand how the South African higher education and political landscapes will be defined and transformed during this important election year.

Hosted for the ninth year in collaboration with the Osaka School for International Public Policy and the Southern African Center for Collaboration on Peace and Security Studies, the workshop brought together the cream of international and national political and security studies experts in the country. Prof Virgil Hawkins from the Osaka School for International Public Policy was the honorary guest.

Theme resonates with current issues
“The theme of the workshop ‘South Africa and Africa: Between Promise and Peril’ is fascinating. Between those is a sense of the in-betweens, the intermediate. This is basically where we found ourselves,” said Prof Heidi Hudson during her opening remarks at the worshop.  

Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, spoke about the future of South African universities. “#RhodesMustFall and the subsequent #FeesMustFall movements were a crossroads which determined the path of higher education,” Prof Petersen said. This intervention reshaped higher education. Coupled with that was the announcement of subsidised free higher education for the poor and working class.

Service delivery and national elections

Dr Sethulego Matebesi from the UFS reflected on service-delivery protests. “Looking at key trends of service delivery, I have identified eight key trends since the eruption of service delivery protests in 2004.” Some of these trends include; the frequency of protests, geographic distribution, violent nature, the government’s response to these protests and new emerging trends of schools being held as a bargaining power.

“In each election year there seems to be a high prevalence of service-delivery protests,” he said.

Roland Henwood from the University of Pretoria spoke about the importance of the upcoming May elections and whether they will change anything for the country. “We have to be realistic about the expectations that surround the elections,” he said. There will not be any significant changes. “It is projected that the ANC will again win with a 50% majority. The results of the local elections of 2016 should not be referenced as different issues were at play then,” he said.

The workshop took place on 11 and 12 February 2019 on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. 

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