Government has introduced new National Health Insurance legislation, which aims to provide universal access to affordable quality healthcare. The legislation is being contested on various fronts. The ISI supports universal access to for all to affordable quality healthcare conditional on the fiscus being able to fund it and on the understanding that the existing world-class health infrastructure is not sacrificed. This research aims to provide various financing and structural models to achieve the principle objectives set out in the legislation. The research will also include a study of various UHC systems in other jurisdictions, for example, Germany, Ireland, South Korea, etcetera, from which lessons could be drawn to inform a consensus South African position.
Assessment: Progress towards economic transformation
Government has introduced several regulatory measures aimed at bringing about economic transformation in order to create an inclusive economy that is equitably accessible to all. Given the nature of the country’s discriminatory past, these measures include policies such as affirmative action, black economic empowerment, the black industrialist programme, government procurement set-asides for specific population groups, et cetera. There are regular contradictions in proclamations as to the extent of progress made in normalising the South African economic environment. It appears that no comprehensive measurement has been done to date. This research aims to measure the extent of economic transformation that has taken place since the advent of democracy in 1994. Furthermore, it will provide the basis for an annual economic transformation index, a measurement tool to track progress on an annual basis.
Options for electoral reform
The current electoral system has served the transition to democracy well. Negative political developments, combined with a maturing electorate, however, started to raise questions as to the continued suitability of the current arrangements. Voices in society are starting to call for electoral reform that will usher in greater accountability, and accessibility, from and to, publicly elected representatives. It has, for example, reached a point where a case is currently serving before the Constitutional Court to amend electoral legislation to allow for individuals to stand for public office in all spheres of government. This research will assess public opinion regarding the current electoral systems and their desirability for change. It will consider the public’s current concerns and survey available electoral alternatives that may be deployed as a response thereto. The researchers will then design options for consideration. Existing electoral data will be modelled to simulate voting outcomes for each of the proposed options.
The South African economy remains stubbornly sluggish. With this year’s GDP growth anticipated to be below one percent, debt to GDP rising to over 65 percent, and unemployment at a record high of 29 percent, imaginative thinking is required to catapult the country out of its current trajectory. Simultaneously, the economy needs to be transformed in order to address inequality, to mainstream the informal sector and to become more demographically inclusive. The Inclusive Society Institute is of the opinion that it cannot be business as usual. New ‘out of the box’ thinking is required, and non-conventional intervention considered. In developing a new progressive economic blueprint for South Africa, the institute wishes to bring all the economic role-players into a non-conventional environment of dialogue – thereby enabling a disengagement from formal mandates into one that encourages a free-flow of ideas. The composition of the dialogue would also weigh more heavily on economic practitioners, as opposed to traditional academia and office-bound policymakers. It will comprise five phases: (i) A first round of discussions with focus groups encompassing all sectors of the economy on what is wrong, what needs to be fixed, and a second round of discussions on ‘out of the box’ ideas, (ii) lessons from other depressed economies that were able to turn themselves into winning nations, (iii) research, analyses and drafting of concept blueprint, (iv) consultative forum to discuss concept and (v) formal release process.
Asia-South Africa economic cooperation
South African enterprises, in their efforts to foster new markets, are increasingly targeting Asian economies. The objective of this project is to get a better understanding of the prospects, challenges and functioning of the Asian markets, so as to leverage development therefrom. The project will be executed in cooperation with research institutions and enterprises from across the Asian region. It will comprise roundtable discussions on various aspects of cooperation, study visits, surveys and in-depth research.
Statistics South Africa, with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD), recently released a report on inequality in South Africa. The gist of the findings was that 25 years into the new democracy, the overall inequality patters between black and white remains largely unchanged. The ISI believes that a deeper understanding of the inequality is required to assess whether the building blocks established by government has set demographic wealth transformation on the right trajectory. This requires a series of statistical drilling down exercises, taking age, sector, and type of work into account. It also requires a differentiated treatment of the unemployed, under-employed and the extreme earners (top 1%).