University of the Witwatersrand


R10 Million For the Palaeosciences

Palaeontologists at Wits are set to benefit from a R10 million bequest, which will give them x-ray vision to “see” into solid rock, without destroying the fossil or the sedimentary material in which it is embedded.

The R10 million will be used to renew the University’s Micro CT scanner, which enables scientists to scan a fossil-bearing rock sample using 3D imaging to examine a fossil without having to painstakingly physically remove the fossil from the rock. It uses 3D x-rays to scan inside an object, bit by bit, without having to break it open. This will save time and will also ensure the preservation of the fossil in the rock or sedimentary material.


Ensuring Global Debates About Inequality Are Informed By Views From Developing Countries

In the last decade inequality has been placed at the centre of the agenda for global social and economic policy. This has been driven in large part by the pioneering work of the British economist Sir Tony Atkinson, French economist Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and the work of sociologists like Goran Therborn.

Global attention on inequality is also informed by a set of issues that have given rise to more virulent right-wing politics in the US, the UK and much of Europe. This is the outcome of growing levels of inequality and high levels of discontent among so-called “blue-collar” workers, and the consequent rise of identity politics.

But, according to Wits scholar Imran Valodia, debates about inequality have not been sufficiently informed by perspectives from the global South.


How a Land Reform Agency Could Break South Africa’s Land Redistribution Deadlock

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has conceded that the country’s land reform programme is taking too long to address the challenge of land ownership inequality in South Africa. Bureaucratic delays, patronage and political influence, and opportunism among beneficiaries and landowners are among the challenges that have hindered South Africa’s land reform programme progress.

At the same time, the government’s farmer support programmes haven’t been agile and quick enough to provide the necessary support for beneficiaries. One proposal is the creation of a Land Reform and Agricultural Development Agency. Ramaphosa announced the creation of such a body in his state of the nation address in February 2021.

UJ outlines how the proposed agency could accelerate land reform by removing the process from political and bureaucratic control.


Small Towns are Collapsing Across South Africa. How it’s Starting to Affect Farming

President Cyril Ramaphosa set out an economic reform and recovery agenda for the country in October 2020. In it he identified agriculture and agro-processing (food security) as one of the drivers of economic growth and job creation, especially in small towns.

But a vibrant agriculture and agribusiness won’t develop if poor service delivery by municipalities continues.

There are some basic practical interventions the government could make. These include ensuring that a municipality has competent management, financial officers, civil and electrical engineers, as well as competent political leadership.

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