February 12, 2020
News /
Posted by NCID

NCID Director Luis Ravina and Junior Researcher David Soler travelled for a week to South Africa to visit fellow institutions and colleagues working on development economics and political science research. The visit, from the 27th of January until the 3rd of February, was divided between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town, the three capitals of South Africa.

The aim of the visit was to strengthen ties with colleagues, work towards deepening our collaborations with such and also open towards new partnerships with other institutions. In that sense Prof. Ravina and Soler visited the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung South Africa office, where its Country Representative Henning Suhr hosted them for an hour long chat on democracy in South Africa and current political and economic affairs. Suhr invited them then to a reception that same evening with former opposition leader Mmusi Maimane, who left the Democratic Alliance (DA) last October after bad results in the May elections and is now starting the Movement for a United South Africa, which aims at reaching an agreement between South Africans on some common goals as a society.

Similar to that meeting was a fruitful first visit with the South African Institute of International Affairs. Prof. Ravina and Soler met with Steven Gruzd, Head of the African Governance and Diplomacy Programme, with whom we shared our work and talked about future collaboration between both institutions. The following day they visited in Pretoria the Institute of Security Studies Africa where its founder and current Chair of the Board of Trustees Jakkie Cilliers received them and talked them about how he founded the think tank back in 1990 up to now, where it has 100 people working at it. The think tank works more on specific projects with a policy perspective and combines field work, trainings and workshops with multimedia work and publications and reports.

Prof. Ravina and Soler also paid institutional visits to the commercial office of the Spanish Embassy in Johannesburg, where Economic Advisor Ferran Casadevall and his team received them and spoke about potential fellowships for research in South Africa and the current economic situation of the country. In Cape Town they visited the Consulate General of the Embassy of Spain where the consul José Pablo Alzina invited them for coffee and a chat with his team on the work they do and our research in the continent. That same night the consul invited them to his residence for a tapas dinner together with the University of Navarra delegate in South Africa, Maite Rodrigo Llodio, and the president of the Spanish Association of Researchers (ACE) in South Africa, Álvaro de la Cruz-Dombriz. There they spoke about potential funding for research projects in the country and agreed to sign in as associates of the ACE in South Africa.

On Friday, Prof. Ravina and Soler attended the FW De Klerk Foundation Annual Conference in Cape Town. This year’s them was titled “South Africa 30 Years After 2 February 1990”, when former president De Klerk announced at Parliament and the legalization of the African National Congress (ANC), which marked the start of the end of apartheid and the transition to democracy. Speakers included Dr. Theuns Eloff, current Executive Director of the FW De Klerk Foundation and reconciler during the transition process; Mr. Moeletsi Mbeki, journalist and political economist who is the brother of Former President Thabo Mbeki; Ms. Gwen Ngwenya, leader of the DA in the Western Cape region and finally Former President FW De Klerk himself, who spoke about how he decided to end apartheid, the transition process and how he saw the current political, economical and social situation in South Africa.

Finally, Soler visited on Sunday Roger Southall, Emeritus Profesor at the University of Witwatersrand. Soler had read and done a book review on his book titled Liberation Movements in Power: Party & State in Southern Africa, which put him in focus for his Ocassional Paper The Slow Death of Liberation Movements in Southern Africa. Soler spoke with Southall about the role of liberation movements in Southern Africa and specifically of the ANC in South Africa, with some talks too on the current and future economic and political situation in the country.