The State of South Africa: Universities come to the table

Academics and policy makers come together to focus on the African continent

The University of the Free State (UFS) and Japan’s Osaka University (OS) will be collaborating to offer a platform for reflective dialogue on the state of South Africa. The two universities will be hosting a two day conference on the UFS Bloemfontein campus, starting next Monday, which will bring together academics and poliy makers to discuss issues around economic growth, South Africa’s involvement in BRIC(S), race relations and conflict resolution. The conference is now in it’s fourth year.

Professor Hussein Solomon, a senior professor at the UFS, and one of the main organisers of the conference, said that a series of events inspired the theme. “Last year we decided to include something on South Africa and it proved to be a big hit. Then we decided to actually have a two day conference this time around. With one day focusing exclusively on South Africa and the second day focusing exclusively on Africa,” he said.

The speakers come from a wide range of disciplines and include the likes of Rocco Carr, who has worked for Glacier Investments; Roy Jankielson, leader of the opposition in the Free State Legislature; Gert Coetzee, Editor of Volksblad will be there; and Zubeida Jaffer, award-winning journalist and author, will be speaking. There are also some international speakers who will be coming from different parts of the globe to share their knowledge in their various fields.

“We’ve divided the conference into economic, political, social and academic sessions. We wanted it to go beyond the academic scope and to create a forum where people who have different viewpoints will share a platform and will engage,” said Solomon who emphasised that one of their priorities is to present university students with a variety of voices.

“We’ve done this in a way with our students in mind. The challenge we get is that some of them come in and they already have it figured out. Knowing who is right and who is wrong. They have aligned themselves to Ace Magashule and the Premier League or to whoever. So, it is imperative that they learn that on any subject there is a diversity of viewpoints exist and that there is no right or wrong answer. And that unlike chemistry, we in the social science do not have the holy grail of truth. From our perspective it is important for students to understand this.”

The conference will be held at the Albert Wessels Auditorium (AWO) and entrance is free.

Conference Program

Annual Osaka University – University of the Free State Conference

Day 1: The State of South Africa

Date: 22 February 2016
Venue: Albert Wessels Auditorium, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein

Opening Remarks
08h45-09h00: Prof. Lucius Botes, Dean: Faculty of Humanities, UFS

Session 1: Reflections on the Political
Chair: Prof Virgil Hawkins, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Japan

Mr. Roland Henwood, Department of Political Sciences, UP. “Politics in South Africa: Facts and Fiction”.

Dr. Siphamandla Zondi. “The Travails of Becoming a Democracy in an Undemocratic World System”. Institute for Global Dialogue

Mr. Roy Jankielson, Leader of the Opposition in the Free State Legislature. “The Free State Province: An Example of Neo-Patrimonial Rule”

Mr Gert Coetzee, Editorof Volksblad. “Media and Government in South Africa in 2016”



Session 2: Reflections on the Economic
Chair: Dr. Marina da Silva, Department of Political Studies and Governance, UFS and Osaka School of International Public Policy, Japan

Mr. Rocco Carr, Business Development Manager, Glacier. “The South African Economy: Is there still hope?”

Prof. Philippe Burger, Head of Department of Economics, UFS. “Economic Policy for Growth and Jobs”

Prof. Theo Neethling, Head of Department of Political Studies and Governance, UFS. “South Africa’s Foreign Policy and BRIC(S): A Critical Analysis”


Finger Lunch

Session 3: Reflections on the Social
Chair: Mr. Willem Ellis, Centre for African Studies, Department of Political Studies and Governance, UFS

Ms. Zubeida Jaffer, Writer-in-Residence, Department of Communication Sciences, UFS. “Why the Penny Sparrows are coming out of the closet”

Dr. Johann Roussouw, Department of Philosophy, UFS. “How Race Can Blind Us”



Session 4: Reflections on the State of Education
Chair: Prof. Theo Neethling, Head of Political Studies and Governance, UFS

Professor Jonathan Jansen, Rector, UFS. “Does South African education have a money problem?”


Concluding Remarks
Prof. Theo Neethling, Head of Political Studies and Governance, UFS

Day 2: Conflict Resolution in Africa

Date: 23 February 2016
Venue: Albert Wessels Auditorium, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein

Session 1: Instruments in Conflict Resolution
Chair: Ms. Alta Vermeulen, Department of Political Studies and Governance, UFS.

Prof. Virgil Hawkins, Osaka University. “The role of the local media in Burundi’s 2015 coup attempt”

Mr. Willem Ellis, UFS. “Infrastructure for Peace (I4P): Re-learning the lessons of the past”

Mr. Yani Karavasilev, Osaka University. “Political Stability and Foreign Direct Investment in SADC: A love-hate relationship”



Session 2: Conflict Resolution in Africa: A View from the United Nations
Chair: Mr. Eben Coetzee, Department of Political Studies and Governance, UFS.

Ms. Elisabet Vergara Velasco, Osaka University. “Analyzing UN Security Council Responses to African Conflicts: Introducing a database tool”

Dr. Marina da Silva, Osaka University and UFS. “Beyond Capacity Building: The interaction between Africa and the UN Security Council”



Session 3: Case Studies
Chair: Prof. Virgil Hawkins, Osaka School for International Public Policy

Prof. Theo Neethling, University of the Free State. “China’s International Peacekeeping Contributions: Understanding China’s global positioning and involvement in peacekeeping in Africa”

Prof. Michiya Kawamura, Osaka University. “A role of intermediators to bridge the economic and racial divides: The case study of South Africa”

Dr. Carla Bringas, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique. “International and domestic contestation: The case of Mozambique’s Prosavana Project”

Mr. Senzo Ngubane, General Manager: Operations, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). “The Challenges of Resolving Burundi”


Concluding Remarks
Prof. Hussein Solomon (UFS) and Prof. Virgil Hawks (Osaka)

Please RSVP to Ms. Marichen Preller, email: