The Mandela Initiative is a multi-sector platform to investigate and develop strategies to overcome poverty and inequality.


The Initiative is a university-led national endeavour in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Through research, workshops and public dialogue with a diverse range of stakeholders (from academia, government, civil society, churches, business and unions) it investigates key strategies to overcome South Africa’s development challenges. The Initiative was established with the encouragement of (then) Minister Trevor Manuel – while he was chairperson of the National Planning Commission – in recognition of the analytical capabilities of the country’s universities to help with the formulation of effective strategies to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality. Its two-pronged approach of research and dialogue was launched at the “Towards Carnegie3” conference in 2012, the outcome of which informed the five major themes to frame its work: social cohesion, health, education, labour and rural and urban renewal.


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We are pleased to present our third newsletter, which focuses on labour and employment-related topics. In particular, we present the preliminary findings of three Initiative-supported studies that resonate with this theme: on rural employment creation in selected agricultural commodities; labour law noncompliance in South Africa; and strike activity in the national economy. Read also about a systematic overview of the country’s youth unemployment and an action dialogue on youth skills development for job creation. More generally, we report on recent child-focused action dialogues – on stunting in children, and on violence against children – as well as an interactive online tool that presents data on young people; our online collection of short videos on people's experiences of living in poverty in South Africa; and online summaries of research completed for the Initiative and presentations from a recent engagement on strategies to overcome inequality in South Africa.



  • Action dialogue: The Church and Poverty (3 – 5 Sept. 2017)

    Early in September, some three dozen theologians, pastors and others from the universities of Stellenbosch and the Western Cape gathered for two days at a colloquium on ‘Theology & Economy: The Church and Poverty’. Hosted by the Volmoed Centre near Hermanus, the colloquium, led by Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, was one in the series of action dialogues that took place since a similar one, also involving the churches, focused on education in 2013. This one considered particularly what ecumenical renewal, as it is now happening in the country, can help in the process of overcoming poverty and inequality in South Africa. The Mandela Initiative action dialogues have focused on a wide range of issues including renewable energy, stunting in children, and social cohesion.