New Collaborative Initiative by UWC and IFAA Aims at Advancing Social and Economic Progress

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) hosted Former President Kgalema Motlanthe this week to launch the Progressive Partnership in Pursuit of Social & Economic Development and Transformation in Africa.

This collaborative event, held on November 15, marked the result of a joint effort between UWC’s Institute for Social Development (ISD) and the Institute for African Alternatives (IFAA), an organisation dedicated to promoting alternative ideas on social, ecological, and economic transformation for over 30 years.


Motlanthe, Chairperson of IFAA’s Board of Directors, was warmly welcomed to the institution by the UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius.


Expressing his gratitude in his welcome address, Prof Pretorius: “The genesis of this partnership lies in a shared commitment to democracy, ethics, and human rights. Over the past three years, UWC’s ISD and the IFAA have forged an alliance to tackle our society and our continent’s pressing needs. This alliance has blossomed into the co-hosting of the New Agenda: South African Journal for Social and Economic Policy – A DHET-accredited journal. It is therefore a respected voice in academic circles.”


Established by the late Professor Ben Turok, an anti-apartheid activist and professor of economics who passed away in 2019, the journal is currently based at the ISD. Professor Pretorius emphasised its role as a vital interface between academic research, policy debates and interventions, and citizen mobilisation, encouraging readers to play a constructive role in social, political, and economic transformation and development.


Against the backdrop of this partnership, Professor Amiena Bayat urged attendees to reflect on the opportunities and challenges facing the African continent.


She emphasised the partnership’s goal to explore how African countries can create conditions for sustainable and equitable development by providing alternative approaches to socioeconomic development, moving away from mainstream neoliberal thinking.

“The partnership was founded to inform alternative approaches to social and economic development and the transformation of South Africa and the African continent, aiming for better developmental outcomes, including the eradication of poverty, the promotion of sustainable growth & development, and the better integration of Africa into the global economy.”


Prof Bayat highlighted the significance of the IFAA and ISD partnership, saying: “The work that IFAA does is complementary to what we do at the ISD. We complement each other’s expertise, increasing the efficacy, impact, transparency, and sustainability of our initiatives.”

In May 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding formalising the strategic partnership at an institutional level was signed.


Prof Bayat explained: “UWC provides academic guidance and a home for the journal. We have recently released the first jointly published issue, issue 90, available at this launch. The next issue will be the first published on UWC Scholar – UWC’s Online Publishing Support system managed by Mark Snyders and his team at the Scholarly Communication unit of the Main library. We recently set up a newly constituted editorial board – a few of ISD’s staff are on the board, including nominated scholars from around the world, particularly the global South.”


The collaboration has yielded significant benefits for students, academics, and broader society. Prof Bayat called on UWC to continue supporting this progressive partnership, commending the University for its leadership and support.


Professor Michelle Esau emphasised the importance of the New Agenda Journal for the work done at the UWC’s Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, where she is the Dean.


“The journal, such as The New Agenda, with its focus on social and economic policy, provides us with the opportunity to document key works addressing problems in the policy arena with a view to finding pragmatic solutions.”


In closing, Professor Ari Sitas, an IFAA board member, extended his gratitude to everyone in attendance and recognised the University’s pivotal role in the IFAA and ISD collaboration. “It has been a seamless relationship with UWC and with the institute because you understand these issues; you are studying these issues. We are here to help each other think better and act more wisely in the future.”

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