College of Human Sciences

Unisa academics present at the Russian Academy of Sciences

The month of October 2017 was historic and important to the Unisa electoral scholars and experts when they attended and presented at the Russian Academy of Sciences. This Academy hosted the 14 International Conference of Africanists in Moscow, Russia from 17 to 20 October 2017, under the theme Africa and Africans in National, Regional and Global Dimension.

Initially, the conference was held every five years but is now a bi-annual research conference that has developed into one of the leading global academic platforms for those working on academic issues related to and about Africa and Africans.

Pictured are members of the Unisa delegation at the International Conference of Africanists in Moscow, Russia.

Held over a week in the Russian capital-Moscow, the scheduled meeting is a significant research engagement on the global academic calendar with Asian, American, European, and African scholars congregating to discuss several topics of interest. Topics included, African Trade-Unionism in the 21st Century – Coming of Age; Free decolonial Education in South Africa: Contextualization, Historicisation, Agitation; Security, corruption and the African development discourse; the formal and the informal city in Africa: planning and governance dilemmas;  the roots, trends and prospects of radical Islamism in North and Sub-Saharan Africa; and the world of Africa in contemporary political science.

The Unisa election panel discussion was co-convened by Dr Tatyana Denisova from the Institute for African Studies in Moscow, and Dr Andreas Velthuizen who drew positive reaction from the audience after presenting a paper entitled Stabilization or Disruption? Managing Security Forces for Democratic Elections in Africa. He was followed by Dr Martin Rupiya, Institute for African Renaissance Studies,  who presented on the Comparison of New State Institutions in Africa: The Election Management Boards (EMBs) and Global Practice, Any lessons learnt? Thereafter is was Advocate Sipho Mantula who critically analysed the Electoral legal framework of South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Republic of Kenya and the electoral dispute matters. Professor Kealeboga Maphunye (Department of Political Sciences and Research Chair in Electoral Democracy) then presented a paper on the Good vs the Ugly sides of Psychology: Comparing and Contrasting the 2016 Elections in Ghana and The Gambia.

The joint Unisa Institute for African Studies panel was formed against the background of significant progress made in the management of democratic elections since the dawn of the 21st century within the context of the revival of Africa or what is called the African Renaissance.

The rationale of the panel was to promote collaboration amongst scholars of elections, democracy, and governance in Africa, African Diaspora and elsewhere in the world; share the latest ideas, methods and innovative practices on elections and democracy in the African continent; and identify issues for further research and analysis based on the outcomes of the conference and issues raised during the discussion by various scholars.

As a direct take-away, Prof Maciel Santos from Porto University in Portugal suggested that the papers presented at this panel discussion should be submitted for consideration to the well-established, peer reviewed and accredited Special Journal of African Studia for 2018.

The Unisa delegation comprised colleagues from the Department of Political Sciences, and made a huge impression with the active participation of its members in another panel discussion by Dr Ahmed Jazbhay, Zandi Radebe, Dr Everisto Benyera and Vhulenda Mukheli. The Unisa delegation was also joined by a contingent of other Southern African academics, activists and civil society organization members who participated actively during presentations, making this event even more worthwhile.

Finally, the Moscow Conference provided important opportunities for creating new networks, cementing existing ones, as well as providing the Unisa election experts time to view the heritage sites, and visit the South African Embassy. The conference concluded on the Friday, 20 October with a film on development challenges in Ghana and a musical concert later during the early evening.

* Submitted by Prof Kealeboga Maphunye (Department of Political Sciences and Research Chair in Electoral Democracy)