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Stiff-Collar Guys Confirm Democracy is Working in South Africa

SA Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan Back in March, I was riding in an Uber car to my Johannesburg hotel. While most of the Uber drivers I’ve met in South Africa have hailed from Congo, Malawi, and Zim, this guy was born in Soweto. We were listening to talk radio, and the show was discussing the … Continue reading

Seemed obvious then, just sad now: U.S. PEPFAR Program Spent $1.4 Billion To Stop HIV By Promoting Abstinence With No Impact

Back in the 1990s and early 2000’s, when I was doing a lot of research on the politics of AIDS policy, it sure seemed hard to believe that billboards, classes, and other initiatives telling people in Africa to abstain from sex would actually cause anyone to abstain from sex. And alas, new research shows that … Continue reading

Trump’s media power, even in South Africa

    We all know that the Donald has dominated the news cycle in the U.S. But even in South Africa, where a very important local election is scheduled for August 3, “Trump” was the 5th most prominent term that appeared in that country’s news media within articles mentioning “election.” He beat out all South … Continue reading

How Nelson Mandela pulled his punches and helped transform South Africa

At the Monkey Cage: How Nelson Mandela pulled his punches and helped transform South Africa.

Successful Twaweza evaluators’ workshop

I am on my way home from the Twaweza evaluators’ conference in Dar es Salaam… literally on my way, posting this on the second leg of my air journey to JFK, having departed Dubai around 4am… which suggests that now even international air travel offers no respite from the distractions of the web. But I … Continue reading

Sadly avoiding Nairobi this week…

I was scheduled to fly out to Nairobi this Saturday night to do 3 days of work, including some social science research methods training to the Uwezo staff, before heading to Dar es Salaam for a multi-day conference with the various teams that have been working on the Twaweza initiative. In light of the awful … Continue reading

Learning about citizenship in Rural Kenya

As part of our ongoing work with Uwezo in Kenya, Dan Posner, Lily Tsai and I commissioned two great Ph.D. students — Brandon de la Cuesta (Princeton) and Leah Rosenzweig (MIT) — to help us learn more about what citizens in rural Kenya are doing (or not doing) to exercise their rights as citizens, particularly … Continue reading

Research on ethnic-based preferences in Africa

I’m happy to report that this article, co-authored with Gwyneth McClendon, was recently published in Comparative Political Studies and is now available for your reading pleasure. I paste the abstract below, but the punchline is that even when we control for all sorts of individual-level and contextual factors, African citizen policy preferences vary quite systematically … Continue reading

A bittersweet farewell to the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa)

The Institute for a Democratic Alternative for South Africa played a pivotal role in that country’s transition away from apartheid rule. Two “white liberals” – Alex Borraine and the late Frederick van Zyl Slabbert – left their jobs as members of parliament in order to meet with exiled members of the African National Congress in … Continue reading

The LRC challenges the shame of South Africa’s schools

There is much to admire about South Africa’s relative progress and stability in the almost nineteen years since its first multiracial election, but its school system is truly an embarrassment. Despite the country’s upper-middle-income classification, many areas that were formerly designated as so-called “homelands” (i.e., the Transkei and Ciskei), resemble the poorest areas of many … Continue reading

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