The Dullah Omar Institute’s Annual Report is now Available


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Good day, my name is Jaap de Visser and I am the Director of the Dullah Omar Institute. I would like to take this opportunity to introduce our 2018 Annual Report.

2018 was a year in which revelations of the incredible scope and brazenness of corruption in South Africa gained momentum and dashed any hope of a rapid recovery from “state capture”. It became clear that the rights of ordinary citizens, in particular the poor and disadvantaged, were being systematically trampled upon to satisfy the greed of individuals. The first year of President Ramaphosa’s Presidency bore hallmarks of a return to constitutionalism. However, it also became very clear that much more is required than a change in political leadership at the top.

In the face of all this uncertainty, the staff and students at the Dullah Omar Institute continued their work. They gathered and assessed evidence, published, convened dialogues, highlighted injustices, advocated for change, taught young scholars, and built capacity so as to direct laws, policies and institutions towards social justice.

The Institute’s work is organised in five themes, namely Women and Democracy, Socio-Economic Rights, Children’s Rights, Criminal Justice Reform, multilevel government and Law and Governance in the digital age. This Annual Report is an outline of the work done under those themes.

With our research, teaching and advocacy, we aim to influence laws, policies and institutions towards social justice. In 2018, we published 3 books, 10 chapters in books, 13 peer reviewed articles, 50 research reports. We convened more than 37 seminars, roundtables and conferences. One of the highlights was the 12th Edition of our Annual Dullah Omar Memorial Lecture, delivered on 9 October 2018 by Naledi Pandor, Minister of Higher Education and Training. Let’s look at a few examples of the kind of research and advocacy that was undertaken:

We started a project on the appointment and dismissal of board members to state-owned enterprises. The mismanagement and corruption at state-owned enterprises is central to “state capture” and continuous to have devastating consequences on the daily lives of citizens, particularly the poor. Many board members failed dismally in overseeing the entity they were expected to lead or even used their positions for private gain. So how does government appoint them, in terms of which criteria, and what is the public’s role?

The Women and Democracy Initiative submitted applications under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, to political parties, provincial legislatures and Parliament to obtain information on sexual harassment matters since 2009. This is a follow-up to the #NotOurLeaders campaign of 2017, which raised awareness about public representatives facing criminal charges or internal disciplinary action linked to sexual misconduct and offences.

We also used the courts to advocate for reform that protects human rights. The Children’s Rights Project submitted an amicus brief to the Constitutional Court to oppose an appeal against a Gauteng High Court order declaring that the common law defence of reasonable chastisement is unconstitutional and no longer applicable in South African law.

The Socio-Economic Rights Project coordinated a civil society coalition to prepare a parallel report, informed by CSO consultations, to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the international treaty body responsible for monitoring the implementation socio-economic rights by member states.

The Applied Constitutional Studies Laboratory published new editions of the Municipal Audit Consistency Barometer, the Capable Cities Index, and the Civic Protest Barometer, all of which contribute to public debate about improving municipal financial management.

The work of the Institute has direct impact. For example, the Africa Criminal Justice Reform’s Jean Redpath submitted a supplementary affidavit to the Western Cape High Court in a case brought by the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) on the skewed allocation of police resources in the Western Cape. The SJC was successful in obtaining an order, confirming that the distribution of police resources by SAPS is discriminatory. Jean Redpath’s research played an important part in this important court victory.

Students

The Institute is committed to supporting students to pursue their postgraduate studies. Dr Phindile Ntliziywana’s graduation with a doctoral degree and the graduation of six of our masters’ students was a highlight. Our cohort of postgraduate students on bursaries is growing steadily. In 2018, we supported 14 masters, doctoral and postdoctoral students with bursaries to pursue their postgraduate studies. We convened two doctoral colloquia, opportunities for doctoral students to discuss ongoing work.

I invite you to read more, in this Annual Report, about the excellent work done by the incredible staff and students of the Dullah Omar Institute.

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