The second module of the FHAS took place in Chintsa, Eastern Cape, from 26 to 29 June. Twenty participants (9 female, 11 male) deliberated in sessions focused on understanding South Africa’s political system.
The objectives of the Autumn School were to develop young leaders who would later contribute to the political, economic and social debates of this country and fill the existing leadership vacuum in South Africa. The prospective leaders of the Fort Hare Autumn School should aspire to become leaders that work for the common good and the well-being of everyone in society within their different spheres of influence.
The following topics were discussed during the second module of the Fort Hare Autumn School 2017:
- South Africa’s Constitution – Historical Developments and Contents: Deputy Minister John Jeffery presented details of the process of negotiations toward a new South Africa and the adoption of its new constitution. He outlined the historical context that not only enabled but also constrained the ANC, which was recognized as leader of the struggle for liberation in the country. Students took the opportunity to critique the negotiated settlement and key provisions in the constitution, such as the property clause, which they see as an impediment to more rapid transformation in the country. There was a robust debate on the meaning of equality before the law and the guarantee of political rights in the context of deepening socioeconomic inequality.
- Socioeconomic rights in the Bill of Rights - Achieving Substantive Democracy: Deputy Minister John Jeffery gave the background to the inclusion of socioeconomic rights in South Africa’s constitution. This is what makes this constitution the most progressive in the world. The students deliberated on the effectiveness of these constitutional guarantees to poor people in the country who continue to struggle to access social goods such as quality education, decent housing and good service delivery at local level.
- Civil society in South Africa – Participation, Inclusion, Activism and Advocacy: Dr Nomalanga Mkhize gave an historical account of South Africa’s civil society landscape contrasting civil society organisations and civil society mobilisation strategies during apartheid, in the early days of democracy and in contemporary society. Her engagement with the students helped them to critique their own activism at universities and understand the need to maintain a balance between activism and advocacy.
- Unpacking the Structure of South Africa’s Political System: Mr David Maimela gave a succinct overview of South Africa’s political system emphasising the purpose of politics as being to improve the collective lot of society. He also located the country’s political system within global politics and the global discourse on democracy.
- South Africa’s Accountability Framework: Mr David Maimela unpacked the concept of accountability and that it is not one to be limited to an assessment of the state and public office bearers but is to be applied to the private sector and civil society nationally and internationally, as well as to global institutions.
- Citizenship and Political Agency - Intersectionality: Dr Nomalanga Mkhize presented an account of how the concept of intersectionality has been operationalised within civil society. She noted how one element of this critical approach is sometimes elevated over others to serve a narrow section of civil society and called for the reinsertion of class and gender (in particular black feminism) into intersectionality.
- Civil Society in South Africa – The Labour Movement: Ms Phindile Kunene presented a brief history of the labour movement in South Africa with a particular focus on Cosatu. She outlined the constitutive principles and values of Cosatu and through a group exercise focussing on the functioning and activities of labour unions in the country gave a critique of the labour movement.
- Values-based Leadership: Former Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim outlined the values that underpin exemplary leadership and gave his account of leaders and leadership during the struggle against apartheid. He also gave an account of how leaders of the ANC conducted themselves during the negotiations for a new South Africa and how their emphasis on the collective helped move the country towards a consensus. Students asked critical questions about the leadership of his generation and also deliberated on the kind of leadership needed in the country today.
- Policy-making Process in South Africa – Step by Step: Mr Imraan Buccus outlined the process of adopting policy in government and the requirements for public participation.
- Policy-making Process in South Africa – Gaps for Participation: Mr Imraan Buccus gave an overview of the literature around invented spaces and invited spaces and highlighted the weaknesses of the country’s formal participatory processes and structures that lead citizens to turn to alternative forms of participation and mobilisation such as protest.
- Policy-making in South Africa – Group Exercise: Mr Imraan Buccus gave introduced the students to the process of writing a policy brief and all it entails.