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No smooth ride out of Covid for South Africa, agree poverty & inequality experts

Published September 8, 2021, by Morgan Morris

ASSAf recently wrapped up a webinar series dedicated to look at how South Africa could alleviate deepening poverty and reduce inequality after the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are some big questions facing South Africa post-Covid-19: if our poverty and inequality numbers were hardly commendable before the pandemic, how equipped is the country to manage the further harms done by its associated lockdowns?

Participants in the ASSAf webinar were (clockwise from top-left) Prof Julian May; Prof Johann Kirsten; Ms Isobel Frye; and Prof Jimi Adesina.


Or as Professor Julian May, director of the Centre of Excellence of Food Security at UWC, put it: “What should we be doing? How will we pay for it? And how do we ensure that the state is capable of delivering?”

These three questions also served as the guiding framework for a recent series of three webinars, hosted over May to July by the Standing Committee on Science for Poverty Alleviation (CSfPA) of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf). As part of National Science Week 2021, the CSfPA hosted a fourth webinar on 6 August 2021 as a means to summarise the suggestions and issues raised over the series.

As chairperson of the CSfPA, May served as facilitator. Featuring as panellists at the webinar were co-hosts from the series’ previous three webinars: Ms Isobel Frye of the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII); Professor Johann Kirsten of the Bureau for Economic Research at Stellenbosch University; and Professor Jimi Adesina, who holds the SARChI Chair in Social Policy at the University of South Africa.

In looking back over the series, Frye spoke of the valuable space the webinar created for discussing issues of that are of concern well beyond academia; Kirsten pointed to the arguments that he and others had made on the monetary and fiscal constraints facing the governments; while Adesina referred to concerns raised at his webinar about how the public-service culture of regulatory compliance often overrides performance.

Watch this fourth webinar here.

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