Workshop on "Populism(s) and social cohesion in Southern Africa: a regional, a global challenge?"

11-12 May 2022, Cape Town, South Africa


On 11 and 12 May, the Institute participated in the workshop on ‘Populism(s) and social cohesion in Southern Africa: a regional challenge, a global challenge?’ The workshop was hosted by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, in partnership with the Research Institute Social Cohesion, based at the University of Leipzig, Germany.


Participants from across Southern Africa were invited to share their insights and inputs regarding the broad challenges associated with populism and the changing meaning of social cohesion. Participants represented a wide array of organizations, think tanks, labour unions and the academy. The two-day event allowed for a meaningful discussion on the current debates in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. This multilateral approach allowed participants to engage their neighbours while relating regional tendencies with their German co-hosts. Whilst case studies on populism(s) and socio-cultural dynamics have developed over the last years, the Southern African region has lagged in regard to producing comparative projects. This workshop offered a valuable opportunity to build regional partnerships and exchanges.


The Institute was represented by Dr Klaus Kotzé who delivered an Occasional Paper titled Social Cohesion: Taking stock of South Africa’s socio-political strategy. The paper which was launched at the workshop discusses the meaning and significance of social cohesion in South Africa. It probes how social cohesion forms part of the Constitutional project, whilst suggesting that for social cohesion to be meaningful (and sustainable) it needs to evolve to become a term of transformative consequence