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Africa Institute of South Africa moves to new home at the HSRC

MEDIA STATEMENT

3 June 2014 -

The Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) has now been physically incorporated into the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) as well, as AISA staff moved to their new offices on Monday 2 June 2014, at the HSRC building in Pretoria.

AISA will now function as a strategic research programme, one of several research programmes within the HSRC.

On 9 December 2013, President Jacob Zuma signed into effect the Africa Institute of South Africa Bill Repeal Act, after several months of hard work. President Zuma declared that on 1 April 2014 the AISA Bill Repeal Act comes into effect. This brought to culmination a decision that was taken by government after a 2010 institutional review of AISA and ensuing consultative, legislative and preparatory processes.

HSRC CEO, Professor Olive Shisana welcomed the former AISA staff to the HSRC family. “We want to officially welcome our colleagues to their new “home”, and are delighted to have them on board. The incorporation of AISA into the HSRC will only make the HSRC stronger, more focused and responsive to our many development needs, both domestically and across the continent. Conversely for AISA, it allows them to conduct research of rigor and quality as part of a high-performing science council whose work continues to “make a difference” to the lives of those living on the margins.”

The incorporation project leader and Deputy CEO at the HSRC, Dr Udesh Pillay said upon AISA’s move to the HSRC. “It is with great pride that we now begin the process of integrating our AISA colleagues – who bring with them a depth of skill and expertise – into the HSRC so that the organisation can continue to grow from strength to strength as one of the world’s premier social science research institutes.”

Back in 2011, the Minister of Science & Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor requested the Department of Science & Technology (DST) to consider the alignment of AISA’s roles and activities with the DST’s strategic mandate.  This was because a number of overlaps had been identified between the mandate and operational activities of AISA and the HSRC, amongst others, in external institutional review reports of AISA and the HSRC.

On 22 February 2012, Cabinet approved the incorporation of AISA into the HSRC. The incorporation would require the repeal of the Africa Institute of South Africa Act (Act No 68 of 2001), but it was not deemed necessary to amend the Human Sciences Research Council Act (Act No 17 of 2008) in the process. The incorporation came about not just because of the 2010 institutional review of AISA but also because of the large scale reforms of all State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s). In the Presidential Review Committee on State-Owned Entities Report of 2012, several recommendations were made in relations to reform such entities to meet the requirements of a developmental state. In the broader context the Review indicated that there is merit in alignment, collaboration and cooperation among SOEs for the purpose of optimising state resources.

AISA was established in principle on 20 October 1956 but it was only formalised in 1960, as a response to the geopolitical realities with which the Nationalist Party was faced with at the time. And in 2001, the Institute became a science council.  When the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology was split in 2002 it was decided that AISA would report to the Department of Science and Technology (DST). 

The Human Sciences Research Council Act, No 17 of 2008 provides scope for AISA to be incorporated into the HSRC as it has a broad Africa-focused research mandate. In the Act, a number of mandated objectives are entrusted to the Council. Specifically, subsection 3 (a) and (d) requires of the HSRC to:

a)    ‘initiate, undertake and foster strategic basic research and applied research in human sciences, and to gather, analyse and publish data relevant to developmental challenges in the Republic, elsewhere in Africa and in the rest of the world, especially by means of projects linked to public sector oriented collaborative programmes’; and
d) ‘help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences in
    the Republic and elsewhere in Africa’. 

The HSRC’s mandated focus on Africa confirms alignment with our mother continent. The incorporation of AISA into the HSRC allows for an even stronger focus on Africa through different lenses provided by a variety of disciplines and partnerships.

END.

For more information contact: Mr Julian Jacobs on 082 454 4902 / 021 4667948

Issued by: HSRC’s Communication & Stakeholder Relations Directorate

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