Research institutions must empower citizens - Motlanthe

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pretoria - Research Institutions such as the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection have a critical role to play in building societies and empowering citizens, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said.

Speaking at the launch of the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection in Midrand on Thursday, Motlanthe said the establishment of the Institute was a positive step in intellectual and reflective firmament.

The Mapungubwe Institute was founded by a group of South Africans with experience in research, academia, policy-making and governance, who identified the need to create a platform of engagement around strategic issues facing the country.

The institute will combine research and academic development, strategic reflection and intellectual discourse and apply itself to issues such as economics, sociology, history, arts and culture and the logics of natural sciences.

"I am encouraged by the realisation that the Mapungubwe Institute offers a platform to key players in the public sector, civil society, academia and the private sector to reflect and engage on the pressing strategic issues that challenge us as a nation," Motlanthe said.

The creation of new knowledge systems was a key determinant of a country's ability to compete regionally and globally, he noted, stressing the need for research institutes to forge functional links with the public and private sectors, civil society and the nation at large.

"....research and development should indeed be central to South Africa's plans for shared growth, developing indigenous knowledge and technological enterprises, as well as developing human capital," the Deputy President added.

Research institutes like the Mapungubwe Institute had a role to play in enabling society understand complex challenges, he said.

In a democratic dispensation, strategic reflection that took place in research institutes was expected will be geared towards building society and empowering all citizens irrespective of race, gender, religion and class. 

Motlanthe said given the capacity the institute was developing, he was confident it would carve its own niche as a key ideas-broker.

He added that government was committed to creating an environment in which the best available talent in the country could contribute to the development of ideas.

The creation of the National Planning Commission, a body made up of independent minds mandated to lead in national policy formulation, followed this system of thought.

Government would be paying close attention to the work of the Institute, he said.

"Challenge us through your research endeavours; shake us from the slumber of short-termism: in other words, fulfil the mission you have set yourselves, and you will have served the nation," he urged the Institute.