“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I am confident that our summit saw us taking more than just a few steps on this crucial journey towards making social justice a reality,” says Professor Thuli Madonsela, Council of Champions.
Cape Town, South Africa (11 November 2020) – Organisers of an annual event dedicated to the ideals of social justice have described their recent summit as a resounding success. Stellenbosch University hosted the Second Annual Social Justice Summit last week (on Wednesday 4 November 2020).
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I am confident that our summit saw us taking more than just a few steps on this crucial journey towards making social justice a reality,” says Professor Thuli Madonsela, Law Trust Chair in Social Justice at the Stellenbosch University’s Law Faculty and convenor of the event.
A key outcome of the event, says Madonsela, was the appointment of a Council of Social Justice Champions. This Council, she explains, will ultimately be in charge of the management and the implementation of all aspects of the Social Justice M-Plan and the crowdfunding elements contained in the M-Fund.
“The Council is co-chaired by Stellenbosch University Rector Professor Wim de Villiers, and businesswoman and philanthropist Basetsana Khumalo, and includes doyens of social impact investment, captains of industry, community leaders and academics including Wendy Ackerman, Dr John Kani, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, Sello Hatang, Doreen Morris, Kate Robertson, Busisiwe Mavuso, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, Futhi Mtoba, Dr Beatrice Wiid, Ashraf Garda, Advocate Xoli Maduna, Prof Sakhela Bhulungu, Prof Francis Petersen and Justice Edwin Cameron. We are honoured that they said yes and agreed to be a part of this project.”
A keynote address was delivered by Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, in which he explained the role that the government should be playing in the achievement of social justice.
“The role of the state, amongst other things, is to deepen equality in our society. Although we as a nation-state celebrate 25 years of a constitutional and democratic state, we must be honest, obtaining social justice is still elusive in various communities and spheres of society in general. Politically, equality is afloat, but social justice requires a substantial amount of work,” he told delegates.
The day also saw addresses and presentations from Cape Town Archbishop Dr Thabo Makgoba, Clare Shine (Vice president and chief programme officer of the Salzburg Global Seminar), Kate Robertson (Co-founder of One Young World), Busisiwe Mavuso (Chief Executive Officer of Business Leadership SA), Dr Adrian Enthoven (Executive Chairman of Yellowwoods Investment Group), Pastor At Boshoff (Founder of the Christian Revival Church) and Gloria Serobe (Chairperson of the Solidarity Fund).
“We invited them to speak on how their various sectors worked towards bridging the equality gap and incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals in the work done by the organisations and sectors they represent. A similar panel discussion later in the day also saw several University vice-chancellors speak on this topic,” says Madonsela.
This was the second summit organised by Madonsela and her team and followed on from decisions taken during the inaugural event held in 2019.
“Delegates signed a comprehensive resolution last year, which committed them to the drive towards the eradication of inequality and the realisation of social justice. Our 2020 event was arranged to take this work further, and this was the key driving force behind the keynote speakers and the topics we chose for the day.
“Parallel breakaway plenary sessions in the afternoon delved deeper into themes that have an impact on the likelihood that social justice can be realised, such as land and poverty, economic inclusion and well-being, Education and training, data analytics and poverty mapping, health, mental health and nutrition, access to justice and the rule of law, peace and social cohesion, climate change and environmental sustainability, politics and democracy, and Gender and other excluded groups.
“One of the highlights of the day was the announcement of the Social Justice Champions of the Year. We looked for community builders whose work is visible in closing the inequality gap while eradicating poverty. The joint winners for 2020 are Kabelo Mahlobogwane (National Spokesperson at Educators Union of South Africa, and Co-Founder & Managing Director at The Marking App), and Eon Hendricks (founder of the Clay Foundation)”, says Madonsela.
Asked what work lies ahead next, Madonsela highlighted the following points:
- Finalising the legal process regarding the M-Fund Trust
- Inauguration and Orientation of the Council and setting up of all relevant structures
- Poverty mapping execution phase as a pilot at Swartland
- Piloting the Social Justice Impact Assessment Matrix as an instrument for leveraging data analytics for social justice impact sensitive policy design and review
- Everyday justice, starting with popularising the preamble
- Thematic research teams with each University allocated a Centre of Excellence on a dimension of social justice
- Publishing of research papers based on summit presentations
- Preparation and publishing of summit report as a book
- Popularising of the Social Justice Declaration adopted at the inaugural summit in August 2019
- Request a meeting with the President to report on the process and strengthen synergies.
In her closing address, Madonsela thanked the delegates and speakers for their part in what she described as an “amazing event”.
“I am encouraged that the large number of people that took part in our event – which was held virtually in the age of the pandemic – shows that we have widespread support for this ideal of achieving social justice.
“We heard from delegates and speakers that our country has achieved a lot in the deliverance of social justice, but much still needs to be done. The road ahead should be about implementation, and the Council of Social Justice Champions that this event appointed will lead us in this regard. My office will drive the research into the furtherance of social justice targets for South Africa.
“When we reconvene in 2021, I hope we will be able to look back on the work that has been done to address those policies that are indifferent to the differences in our society. It is only with the support and collaboration of government, civil society, big business, academia, and every ordinary South Africans that we will be able to make the ideal of social justice a lived reality for everyone in South Africa,” said Madonsela.