Additional Topics

Sub-themes:

  1. Health
  2. Labour
  3. Migration and Human Trafficking
  4. Life Issues and Bio-ethics
  5. Foreign Relations and Peacebuilding

8.1. Health

There is an overhaul of the health system going in South Africa at this time, involving a change in direction and emphasis from tertiary-based care to primary-based care. This will include changing not just policy but also the way medical professionals are trained, with a bias towards primary care facilities. This will have consequences for university, college, and medical school training, and for financial allocations and resourcing of facilities. The introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme, already underway in pilot programs, and the huge amounts of money budgeted for its comprehensive introduction in the coming years, together with the required skills needed, will ensure that health care remains high on the agenda. The concomitant impact on the private medical sector will also raise extremely important policy issues.

 

8.2. Labour

Factionalism within the Congress of SA Trade Unions, the recent bloody and lengthy miner’s strike, the regular strikes in various other sectors, the National Union of Metalworkers’ threat to break away from COSATU and to form its own political party will mean, if not labour instability, then at least a huge realignment of labour and labour politics in the country. At the same time, high unemployment, especially of youth, will keep labour matters high on the agenda. The newly-launched Youth Wage Tax Incentive scheme, an ambitious attempt to promote youth employment, against the wishes of organized labour, will be a key test of government’s determination to make an impact on perennially high rates of unemployment.

 

8.3 Migration and Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking takes place both within the borders of South Africa and across our international boundaries. Young girls, especially, are trafficked from the rural areas, being promised employment, but instead find themselves trapped in domestic servitude. The UN’s 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons states that 27% of all victims of human trafficking officially detected globally between 2007 and 2010 were children, and two-thirds of these were girls. Cross-border human trafficking for both prostitution and labour continues, particularly through the borders of Swaziland and Namibia. South Africa has recently enacted legislation to tackle this issue, but it is not yet clear if it provides adequate assistance and protection for victims of trafficking.

South Africa continues to receive a large number of migrants, legal and illegal, from other African countries. Unfortunately, both official policy and the attitudes of many local people display a tendency to xenophobia. Increasingly restrictive legislation makes it more and more difficult for foreigners to enter the country and to secure refugee status and the rights to reside, work, or study here.

 

8.4. Life Issues and Bioethics

This sub-theme involves tracking developments in the bio-ethical area and maintaining an understanding of this rapidly developing and complicated area of morality e.g. developments regarding the use of stem cells. It would also include matters such as surrogate motherhood, the care of the comatose, sperm banks, the selling of eggs and other scientific advances. Although no new legislation pertaining to abortion, euthanasia or assisted dying is expected, we will continue to monitor developments in these areas.

 

8.5. Foreign Relations and Peacebuilding

South Africa’s entry into the BRICS grouping of countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) presents it with an opportunity to engage politically and economically with a broader range of partners than previously. However, since these economies are all significantly larger than ours, the partnership could end up becoming exploitative. The other foreign relations priority, Africa, has not enjoyed as much attention from the Zuma administration as it did previously, but there are encouraging signs that this might change. Deputy-president Ramaphosa has been involved in attempts to resolve the South Sudan conflict, and former foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is serving a term as head of the African Union.

It remains to be seen whether South Africa will expand its peace-keeping and peace-building efforts in Africa. Recent experience in the Central African Republic, where the SA Defence Force suffered casualties, indicates how difficult it can be to intervene in conflict situations that are unpredictable and poorly understood. Nevertheless, as the continent faces growing fundamentalist violence (Nigeria, Kenya), and with failed states (Somalia, DRC) and civil war (South Sudan) threatening stability, the need for peace building – not always through armed interventions – remains urgent.

There are a number of important issues which do not fall easily under the headings of the various project areas already described. Project 8, therefore, provides the space and the flexibility for us to address these issues.