Projects

The M-Plan

Overview

The Social Justice M-Plan is a social justice accelerator programme, named after Palesa Musa and modeled against the post-World War II, Europe Recovery Plan. It is aimed at fostering applied integrated research and related activities in order to catalyse the process of ending poverty and equalising opportunities by 2030, in support of the National Development Plan (NDP), Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also seeks to foster social accountability and social cohesion, mobilise corporate and civil society resources to fund socio-economic inclusion and foster civic responsibility.

The M-Plan aims to leverage data analytics to enhance the state’s capacity to pass laws that reduce poverty and inequality and to foster a culture of data based decision-making, focussing on assessing and predicting the likely social justice impact of planned policies, legislation and plans as well as those already in operation.

The name is in honor of Palesa Musa, an anti-apartheid activist who at the tender age of 12 was one of the school children that were arrested, detained and tortured for challenging the apartheid government. Today, Musa serves as a reminder of how the shadow of the past influences the present.

“We don’t want democracy. We fought for freedom and instead got this thing called democracy. During apartheid the pass laws undermined our ability to live freely and to prosper, while today poverty achieves exactly the same purpose.”— Palesa Musa

Truth be told, Musa is one of millions of people, mostly young and poor, who feel that the government has failed them in that the constitutional promise of freed potential and improved quality of life has not yet reached them. This sentiment is echoed in Rekgotsofetse Chikane’s book Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation: The Politics Behind #MustFall Movements (2018, Johannesburg: Picador Africa), specifically in a chapter titled: “We Were Sold Dreams in ’94 – We Want a Refund”. Many such left-behind or discontented groups and communities are increasingly finding demagogues and related extremism attractive. They are increasingly looking to political entrepreneurs who are offering alternatives to democracy that will lift them out of poverty, hunger, unemployment, landlessness and related deprivations Truth be told, Musa is one of millions of people, mostly young and poor, who feel that the government has failed them in that the constitutional promise of freed potential and improved quality of life has not yet reached them. This sentiment is echoed in Rekgotsofetse Chikane’s book

Download a booklet on the M-Plan and M-Fund →

Context

The M-Plan is aimed at fostering applied integrated research and related activities in order to catalyse the process of ending poverty and equalising opportunities by 2030, in support of the National Development Plan (NDP), Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The M-Plan seeks to coordinate systematic and integrated academic, business and broader civil society input to support government efforts towards breaking the back of poverty and inequality. It is also an avenue for giving effect to the Stellenbosch University’s Social Impact objective, particularly with regard to the grand constitutional objective of healing the divisions of the past and transforming structural social relations in society to give effect to the constitutional promise of freeing the potential and improving the quality of life of every citizen.

Objectives

The Law Trust Chair in Social Justice is anchored in the triple objectives of responsive research, teaching and social impact. Research includes auditing and integrating existing social justice research and data while generating new knowledge and information where necessary. Teaching on the other hand, extends to fostering appropriate knowledge, skills and values among decision-makers that drive public policy, planning and monitoring.

The Social Justice M-Plan key result areas aim to:

  1. Empower policy and law-makers to leverage data analytics to catalyse social justice and SDG 16 responsive law and policy reform;
  2. Foster social accountability and social cohesion through legal, human rights and democracy awareness and empowerment initiatives;
  3. Mobilise societal, corporate and international support and resources towards accelerated reduction of poverty and inequality by 2030; and
  4. Encourage leadership among all and contribute to a capable state.

The Theory of Change Underpinning the Social Justice M-Plan

The Social Justice M-Plan moves from the premise that despite numerous transformation policies and resource investments since the dawn of democracy, the poverty and inequality gap has been increasing due to the exponential impact of structural accumulated socio-economic advantages and disadvantages among historically privileged and oppressed groups respectively and misaligned policy responses.

The theory of change behind the Social Justice M-Plan is that poverty and inequality are systems problems and require a systems approach to change. Current approaches tend to adopt a silver bullet paradigm. Poverty and inequality operate like debt, increasing exponentially with minimum repayment efforts and decreasing exponentially with significant investment. Current approaches to poverty alleviation are bedeviled by a ‘one-size-fits-all’ paradigm for mainstream policies, while creating in ramps for the historically oppressed whose gains are easily offset by the fact that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ in the mainstream leaves those already disadvantaged behind. Different dimensions of poverty and inequality feed on and foster each other. Gender, spatial disparities, disability, class and other forms of inequality intersect with other forms of social injustice, such as sexual orientation and age, compounding disadvantage.

The assumptions further take into account the deleterious impact of corruption and related governance failure on social justice. In response thereto, the Social Justice M- Plan seeks to sponsor reinforced public participation in public policy processes, service monitoring and exacting accountability to ensure that whatever is gained through the M-Plan is not offset by what’s lost through corruption and related governance and service failure in state affairs.

Fostering Collaboration

Key to the Social Justice M-Plan and its interdisciplinary nature is the appreciation of the importance of collaboration within the university, and between universities, disciplines, the state, society and business.

The coordination of resources will be critical for this purpose. The M-Plan is ultimately intended to be a collaborative venture between Stellenbosch University and other academic institutions in a manner that builds bridges between diverse communities.

Key Activities

  1. Social Justice resonant policies and laws. Activities include the establishment of a Social Justice hub; think-tank coordination; policy-briefs and social justice analytics tools design.
  2. Social accountability and social cohesion. Activities include an Everyday Justice legal empowerment initiative working with students to enhance access to justice for disadvantaged groups and communities. It also includes social justice cafes and #Dear President initiative and fostering accountability for constitutional, SDG and NDP imperatives for social justice.
  3. Resource mobilization. The flagship activity involves encouraging retail outlets to help collect small public donations of R2,00 or more towards an #Action4Inclusion Fund managed by a Council of Social Justice Champions. The fund is directed towards impact investment in education and ward-based socio-economic inclusion initiatives in 4392 wards.
  4. Encourage leadership among all and contribute to a capable state.Design a poverty and inequality map and encourage social justice championship that has targeted the poorest areas on it. This includes encouraging a strategic investment legal framework targeted at reducing poverty and inequality.

Resources

Brochure:
Introducing the Social Justice M-Plan

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Summary Report:
Expert Round Table

October 2018

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Summary Report:
Towards a socially-just and sustainable economy

March 2019

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Summary report:
Inaugural Social Justice Summit and International Conference

August 2019

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Policy Brief:
Land

November 2019

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Concept Paper:
M-Plan

June 2020

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Booket:
The M-Plan structures, including the M-Fund

October 2020

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About the Chair:

Professor Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, is the law trust chair in social justice and a law professor at the University of Stellenbosch, where she conducts and coordinates social justice research and teaches constitutional and administrative law.

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