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01 April 2020

HSRC conveys condolences on the passing of Professor Thandika Mkandawire

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Pretoria, Wednesday 1 April 2020 – The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) extends it condolences to the family, the CODESRIA network, and indeed the entire global social science community on the passing of Professor Thandika Mkandawire.

The HSRC worked extremely closely with Thandika. This association went back a long way with individuals in the HSRC and with the organization itself. After the HSRC signed an MOU with CODESRIA in 2006, it had the privilege of working with Thandika on a number of different initiatives and projects. It was evident to us that we were in the presence of a great leader of the African continent.  On the basis of this engagement with Thandika the HSRC Board took the decision to invite him to become an Honorary Distinguished Researcher in the organisation. We were extremely excited about this development. It would have allowed us to have him here, in our midst, interacting with our researchers and giving us the benefit of one of the finest minds on the African continent. It was, unfortunately, not to be. Thandika received an offer to assist at international level with the United Nations. He continued, however, to graciously share his guidance and advice to us. For this we are extremely grateful.
The CEO of the HSRC, Professor Crain Soudien said, “The passing of Professor Thandika Mkandawire is an immeasurable loss at a time where the country, and indeed the world, needs visionary leaders who are able to inspire and shape policy research and scholarship in areas that impact positively on the lives of all people.”

“Professor Thandika Mkandawire was probably the leading contemporary political economist on the African continent — an activist academic and scholar.  To this end we recall his keynote address to the conference on ‘The potential for and challenges of constructing a democratic and developmental state in South Africa’, organized and hosted by the HSRC in June 2008, where he said that ‘Real existing developmental states are built over many years by trial and error, intelligent emulation and borrowing, and new country-specific innovations. Each country will have to discover its constraints and capacities, selectively and creatively learn from others, and manage its destiny. And this will demand openness, a deliberative political culture, creativity and originality’.  These words of wisdom still hold true for the African continent in 2020.”

“In paying tribute to the legacy of Professor Mkandawire we must collectively, as citizens of the continent, bring our creativity and innovation to ensuring that Agenda 2063 does not remain merely a vision for the continent, but rather an active plan that brings development, equity as well as political and economic freedom for all.”

“As an active researcher, leader, and manager of various scientific organizations Professor Mkandawire was widely admired and loved because of his humility, insightfulness, generosity, sense of humour, integrity, and work ethic.”

“We take this opportunity to express our deepest condolences to the family, loved ones, friends and colleagues of Professor Mkandawire.  It is up to us to continue doing the work that can bring his vision of a continent that is prosperous, developed and at peace with itself to fruition,” concluded Professor Soudien.

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organizations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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