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CCS Testimonials (2008) CCS Testimonials.  : 1-26.

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Naomi Klein says CCS proves that academia can still be relevant and vibrant; indeed it can be positively dangerous
Congress of South Africa Trade Unions:
Hands off the CCS! says COSATU
Thursday, 7 August, 2008 7:15 AM
From:Patrick Craven
Hands off the CCS!
COSATU is dismayed to hear that the University of KwaZulu-Natal is
considering closing its world-renowned Centre for Civil Society (CCS) on
31 December 2008 for what sound like paltry and quite possibly spurious
reasons – that staff do not have "permanent" funding.
The CCS’s objective is “to advance socio-economic and environmental
justice by developing critical knowledge about, for and in dialogue
with, civil society through teaching, research and publishing” It was
established at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in July 2001, with the
mission of “promoting the study of South African civil society as a
legitimate, flourishing area of scholarly activity”. A related goal was
“to develop partnerships within civil society aimed at
capacity-building, knowledge sharing, and generating reflection and debate”.
All such research institutions as the CCS are precious to COSATU,
especially those like the CCS that are products of the 1994 democratic
breakthrough, and not relics of the apartheid past.
The working class, which is the largest, most technically, socially and
politically advanced component of civil society in our country, is
acutely aware of the value of intellectual labour. COSATU sincerely
hopes that the university administrators who want to close the CCS will
quickly realise their mistake and instead of muttering threats, will now
support this valuable institution.
If there is a genuine problem of finding funds for the unit, the
government must step in to fund this important institution.

Professor Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University:
TO: Dasarath Chetty, Deputy Vice Chancellor
Dear Dasarath,
I am appalled to learn that Dean McCracken has informed Patrick Bond of
the imminent closure of the Centre for Civil Society. As you surely
know, the single most prestigious activity of the UKZN, at least as seen
from a United States vantage-point, is the CCS. Those of us who try to
follow what is going on in South Africa have come to rely upon the CCS
as the best single source of wide information. Closing it down would not
only damage severely UKZN's reputation but would set back research
worldwide on contemporary South Africa.
The CCS is the jewel in your crown. Why would anyone want to close it down?

Professor Jocelyn Alexander, Queen Elizabeth House, Department of International Development, University of Oxford:
I was astounded to hear that UKZN plans to shut down the Centre for
Civil Society by the end of this year. The Centre provides an invaluable
and quite unique space in which the promotion of rigorous research is
combined with links to community groups and social movements, public
events, and the publication and dissemination of books, articles and web
site-based materials. This is a real intellectual centre, known around
the world, offering genuine insights into matters of concern to us all,
and always willing to engage fellow researchers and activists with a
generous and open spirit. We need more such centres, not less.

Dr Timothy Quinlan, Research Director, UKZN Health Economics and AIDS Research Division:
Have just read the news on CCS as confusing as the UKZN management
position seems to be! The argument for closure -that CCS does not have
'permanent' funding or funding 'in perpetuity' - is clearly not the
reason. To support your contention, HEARD does not have such funding nor
does CAPRISA - the med. schools flagship HIV/AIDS 'project' nor do a
host of other units ; it is simply not the nature of contemporary
research funding -soft funding is the norm and a function of
entrapreneurialism at universities and the university has standard
financial and HR means to enable them (e.g. 2 year contracts; no
overdraft rules, setting up NU Health, etc, etc.). This is all very
obvious and well known -so there is need for clarity from UKZN
management as to why this threat was made and the manner of it -because
it is clearly absurd. UKZN's PR documents for public marketing in 2007
made extensive use of such funded units to highlight the University's
'research capacity and 'community outreach' agenda.

Professor Francie Lund, UKZN School of Development Studies:
I am appalled at the decision to close the CCS; the process by which CCS
and the School were informed; and the complete lack of fit between the
findings of the evaluation, which was taken so seriously by those who
participated, and the decision that was conveyed to you. I wish you
strength in contesting this decision.

Professor Elizabeth Oehrle, UKZN
To close the CCS, a highly respected and necessary center at our
tertiary institution, is an act arising out of ignorance and/or short
sightedness on the part of the administration. Staff and students should
not be allow this to happen. Such a misguided decision must be turned
around immediately.

Professor Fatima Meer:
My experience with it (the CCS) is largely the involvement in the
community with civil society, and I think it is playing a very
significant role. The University can become a place on the hill and it
looks down on the city…the CCS, which understand(s) what is going on in
the community… plays a good role there. It is also a teacher to the
people who are far removed from academia. So, I think it is a very
commendable department of good will.

Desmond D’Sa, Chairperson of South Durban Community Environmental Alliance:
The CCS has opened its doors to the poor, vulnerable and marginalized
who would otherwise not be able to access education so desperately
needed in our communities. The CCS over the years has been able to host
several workshops on housing, basic services such as water, electricity,
climate change, globalization etc. We, as the South Durban communities,
have been very fortunate to work with the CCS and are able to bring our
people on a regular basis to these workshops. The CCS provides a
platform where real struggles of ordinary people are spoken. The
Director Patrick Bond and his staff have all worked hard to ensure that
the CCS embodies the spirit of the Centre’s founders (and) that it be
people centred and a place for all. We hope that this practice continues.

Stefan Andreasson, Queen's University Belfast:
Recent news regarding the planned closure of the UKZN's CCS is most disappointing and of great concern for all of us in the wider academic community who have over the years appreciated the centre's great diversity of scholarship and its consistently impressive quality output. It is very difficult to understand the logic behind this apparent decision; why, indeed, the UKZN would contemplate shutting down the activity of such an obviously successful research unit.
Having never had the opportunity to visit or be affiliated with the Centre myself I have nevertheless found many of its publications informative and useful in my own research and the Centre's staff most helpful in responding to inquiries regarding my own work.
My undergraduate students taking "Politics of Southern Africa", the majority of which have not yet had the opportunity to visit the region, have found the Centre's website an outstanding resource in terms of "getting to know" a bit more about contemporary social and political issues, and also to find inspiration for their own research topics.

Trevor Ngwane, Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee organiser:
Dear University of KwaZulu Natal authorities
On behalf of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee, an affiliate of the Anti-Privatisation Forum, I would like to put on record our shock and feeling of outrage at the news that you are planning to close down the Centre for Civil Society. From what we have gathered on this matter and our own experience of working with this institute we strongly believe that this is a politically motivated attack on progressive and relevant scholarship. What a shame! What is happening to our country? At a time when South African society finds itself in a crisis of legitimacy, leadership, socio-economic security and political stability, we need clear-headed, relevant and committed scholarship that will shed light on the issues and suggest viable and just solutions. Instead the UKZN management is deciding to unilaterally close down one of the few remaining centres of committed and progressive scholarship in the country.
CCS has over the years given grassroots organisations such as ours support and hope that the academic establishment can and sometimes does contribute to the struggle to stop the rich richer and the poor poorer; and taht it can and sometimes does conduct research aimed at improving the lives of the poorest of the poor. CCS's work indicated to us that academic institutions are not mere ivory towers conducting work that benefits the ruling class and the rich. For example, the CCS's Prof Patrick Bond made expert submissions in the recent court case to assure water for all. The community of Phiri, organised by our organisation, and getting support from the Coalition Against Water Privatisation, won the court case against pre-paid water meters. Judge Moroa Tsoka ruled that pre-paid water meters are unlawful and unconstitutional and are a violation of human rights. CCS has also given crucial support to communities around Durban under attack from oil-producing companies which are intent on making profits at great cost to the environment and threatening people's lives. CCS has also organised ground breaking research into social movements such as ours, the Treatment Action Campaign and others, research that helped our organisations to understand themselves and the context in which we operate thus helping us in strengthening our struggles.
We urge you to reconsider your decision of closing down the CCS. We see this as nothing else but an attack on the struggle to better the lives of the working class and the poor through research. We also see it as an attempt to divorce academic scholarship from the problems faced by millions and millions of ordinary people ground by the pro-big business neoliberal policies of the government. We say: Hands off the CCS!
Thank you.

Professor Bill Freund, UKZN Department of Economic History:
If the reports that I have read are accurate moreover, the Centre 's
basic approach is quite strongly endorsed in the review committee
assessment; the university has in effect chosen not to accept the
considered judgement of the most appropriate panel which sounds very
similar to what my own judgement would have been had I been included in
the committee. As the committee points out, the Centre gives UKZN the
reputation of being a place where social activists and critics of
injustice in this society are welcomed and able to get an effective
hearing. It has very substantial outreach activities which make it
possible for people to see this university as a place where those who
are not bureaucrats or businessmen may get a hearing and a voice. This
may not always lead to a polished academic project but it has an
importance of its own and the Voices of Protest volume and other
outcomes do in fact represent a substantial academic contribution as
well. It can be argued strongly that incorporating centre activities
within more diffuse operations, dissolving it as an entity, will take
away from this and only makes sense to me if there is a strong
mismanagement problem. Keeping this reputation of independence and
support for local activism is extremely important to the modest,
understaffed little world of the social sciences in our university and
represents in its way a contemporary voice that follows in the wake of a
long tradition of harbouring South African critical voices that
certainly has nurtured both of the foundational institutions that came
together to make UKZN. You don't have to endorse every speaker or every
initiative of the Centre to perceive that this kind of tradition has not
become irrelevant because there is now a democratically elected
government. A good university anywhere and anytime is not simply a
factory for turning out enskilled graduates or following government
precepts uncritically.

Carl Death, Department of International Politics, University of Aberystwyth:
I have been shocked and saddened to hear of the threats to CCS existence - although the strength of your responses and those from around the world are a silver lining to an otherwise depressing cloud. My time spent as a visiting scholar at CCS in 2006-2007 was one of the most productive, stimulating and challenging periods of my PhD research, and their support, research environment and contacts have been invaluable to the completion of my thesis. Since being hosted by CCS I have been appointed as a full-time lecturer in African Politics at Dublin City University, and intend to highlight the online resources CCS provides as a important facility for my students. Without CCS' support my PhD, research and academic career would be impoverished, and I had been looking forward to visiting them again in the future.
Closing CSS would an immeasurable loss and would demonstrate a worrying lack of appreciation of the energy, comradeship, openess and intellect of its staff and members.

Tafadzwa Muropa, Zimbabwe social justice activist:
Over the past week, I have learned that CCS might be closed! How can it
be at a time like this? I just hope that SA academic leadership will not
turn out to be like the Zimbabwean state leadership. I am among those
supporting you in ensuring that CCS remains where it should be! I have
become who I am partly because of my exposure at CCS, so don't give up,
not now!

Gavin Capps, London School of Economics:
I am absolutely staggered that the university authorities could be so
short-sighted to close what is without doubt not only the pre-eminent
centre of its type in South Africa, but the region as a whole. The
research the CCS produces is consistently original, engaged and focussed
toward the goals of the deepest possible democratic transformation of
post-apartheid South Africa. It is consequently an invaluable resource
not only for local civil society, but also for researchers such as
myself working on these issues from abroad. I am sure that if such a
move were being made in neighbouring Zimbabwe, we would be hearing all
about the stifling of academic freedom by the single-party state. The
university authorities should think very carefully about the signal that
they will be sending the outside world if they press ahead with the
threatened closure of a Centre that has not only gained an international
reputation for the quality of its output, but also for the critical
independence of its voice.

Maarten de Wit, University of Cape Town AEON- Africa Earth Observatory Network and Department of Geological Sciences:
Its hard to believe (newsmedia) that you are facing onslaught from
within an institution that should nurture discourse and
knowledge building, not abolish it. Your research into environmental
justice through social dialogue has set new standards and is a role
model for others to follow.

Shannon Walsh, Centre for Developing Area Studies, McGill University, Montreal:
It is with shock and sadness that news CCS is under attack and
threatened with closure has come to me here in Canada. With the Centre's
stellar international reputation and ongoing local grassroots praxis,
this news can only be seen as a politically motivated attempt to quell
intellectual freedom and dissent. I join my voice with the many others
who have already come forward in expressing my deep commitment,
appreciation and gratitude towards the Centre. It would be a terrible
loss to the intellectual and activist community in South Africa and
beyond, as I myself know so well, having been a visiting scholar at CCS
on occasion. The role of practice, intellectual scholarship, social
movement support, politically relevant research, and grassroots activism
at CCS is really equal to none. The CCS is a space of intellectual
nourishment and praxis that is rare to find anywhere, and must be
preserved at all costs. There are a great many of us who will continue
to do whatever it is in our power to ensure the continued existence, in
all its vibrancy, of the CCS! Viva CCS, Viva!

Professor Brian Raftopoulos, Zimbabwean political analyst:
I want to join the many voices that have condemned the threat to the
future of the CCS. Your own work and that of the Centre have made an
enormous contribution to strengthening the progressive voices in the
region. Let us hope that the management of UKZN retreats from this
disastrous position. Best wishes to all at CCS.

Leo Zeilig, Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand Department of
Sociology and research fellow at the University of Johannesburg Centre
for Sociological Research

I am astonished at the short-sighted stupidity of the University of
KwaZulu Natal for wanting to close the Centre for Civil Society. The
Centre has an impressive international reputation for academic
brilliance and socially engaged research in the humanities. It has been
a beacon of critical and ground breaking scholarship for years, inviting
and funding scholars from across the continent – and often providing a
life line for the continued academic research of academics in other
African countries. I have made use of the Centre on a number of
occasions, writing for the website, working on a project on social
movements in Southern Africa and, crucially, using material and
expertise that is uniquely housed at the CCS. There is much talk of the
development of higher education in South Africa, and for many inside and
outside the country, the CCS makes the most exciting and important
contributions to social science research. Closure of the Centre for
Civil Society would be an act of extraordinary vandalism, and augurs ill
for the further growth of South Africa’s reputation in university
education and research.

Teivo Teivainen, Head of Department and Professor of World Politics, University of Helsinki Department of Political Science:
It is with great sadness that I hear of the plans to close down your
university's world-famous Centre for Civil Society. Over the past years I
have witnessed how the Centre has played an important role in academic
articulations around the world. Producing high-quality publications and
seminars, it is a source of inspiration for many researchers.
For the University of Helsinki, in which I am Head of the Political Science
Department, the Centre is an important partner. Closing it down would
certainly make our collaboration with the UKZN more complicated. I have
graduate students writing their PhD who hope to have the Centre as their
key academic host in South Africa. I have professor colleagues who plan to
visit the Centre because they have heard so many good things about it. I
participate in international networks whose members from India to the
Netherlands and Peru consider the Centre a key part of the networks.
In short, it is difficult to comprehend how any university could even
consider closing down a centre with such a world-wide reputation of
academic excellence. Instead, one would imagine that a university that
values high-quality research and international recognition would eagerly
increase its support to such a centre.
I look forward to many years of fruitful collaboration with the Centre for
Civil Society.

Michele Pickover, Chairperson Animal Rights Africa and Curator of Manuscripts, Historical Papers, University of the Witwatersrand:
I am writing to you on behalf of Animal Rights Africa as well as in my
personal capacity to object in the strongest possible terms to the
proposed closure of the Centre for Civil Society (CCS) by the University
of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). We are horrified that UKZN can come to such a
decision given the unique and critical role that CCS plays in relation
to developing public policy, advancing critical knowledge, encouraging
debate and improving socio-economic and environmental justice. We
cannot allow this to happen. I am deeply saddened and concerned about
this. Please let me know if there is anything I/we can do to help

Professor Suleman Dangor, UKZN School of Religion and Theology:
Hats off to you guys for standing up for your rights. There are too many arbitrary decisions by sectors of the management which impinge on the rights of staff and students - in this casecontrary to the recommendations of reviewers. This has to be challenged - if the
academic enterprise is to survive at UKZN.

Westcliff Flat Dwellers Association:
It is with great sadness that we recently heard about the University’s
recommendation to close down the Centre for Civil Society. We the
Westcliff Flat Residents Association have been affiliated to CCS since
it’s inception. In some way, we feel that the Centre is a direct product
of the communities in Chatsworth struggle against social injustices. The
Centre has created a platform for not just Chatsworth but many other
community based organisations to come together. The Wolpe lectures,
seminars, workshops, film series etc. has contributed educationally and
socially. The Centre has empowered many community leaders with the
understanding and the knowledge derived from research as a weapon to
engage with government. The research produced by the Centre has given
many of us broad knowledge and understanding not just of local issues
but of national and global issues. We are sad because this door will now
be closed to many communities like ours. The relationship with the
Centre has been one that communities like ours have never experienced
before. The Centre has created an opportunity too many grassroot people
to be aligned to the Centre & University even thou we are finally
depressed. This has been the only opportunity for many of us to really
understand, know and experience what life at at University is. We would
sadly miss this opportunity if the Centre closes down. We are not use to
been evicted as a community of Chatsworth ie. We have challenged
government and have succeeded; we will challenge every other oppressor.
Forward with the good work CCS! Away with marginalisation!

Leonard Gentle, director of the International Labour Research and Information Group (University of Cape Town Department of Sociology):
The Centre for Civil Society has been a major source for information,
analysis and critical debate amongst progressive academics and social
justice activists. This in a period when there is a dearth of left wing
scholarship at the universities and yet such an obvious demand for
information and ideas from a growing pool of activists and intellectuals
interested inn understanding the neo-liberal world order and the
possibility of alternatives. As such it makes no sense to contemplate
any idea of, effectively, shutting CCS down and instead we urge the
university authorities to make necessary resources available to expand
its scope and function.

Ashraf Patel, social justice activist, Gauteng:
It is with a heavy heart that we hear of the sudden and imminent closure
of the CCS @ UKZN. The CCS has been a mainstay in supporting key
development research for civil society in South Africa. It has given
voice to many unheard voices in the complex policy debates and on the
key issues that affect peoples lives. CCS has been a vibrant centre of
local and social mobilisation and in my view one of the best examples
of the expression of university transformations in the country. The
work you have done has empowered African researchers, particularly in
the SADC region. We really hope that the UKZN administration can
reconsider this ill timed decision. Good luck with the ongoing
negotiations we look forward to a positive outcome that saves CCS

John Heinrich, Chief Executive Officer of the SA National Tuberculosis Association:
We at the South African National Tuberculosis Association (SANTA) view
the proposed closure of the CCS with dismay. Agree or disagree with
viewpoints expressed by CCS the simple fact remains that the Centre has
been andremains an important voice of Civil Society. There seems to be a
reluctance to accept Civil Society as an important, if not critical,
element of a democracy and this move appears to be yet another attempt
to marginalise this force for transparency and fairness in the country.
Let us hope that sense will prevail and this decision by UKZN will be

Femi Aborisade, Director, Centre for Labour Studies, Nigeria:
On behalf of the Centre for Labour Studies (CLS), a Nigerian labour
based research centre, I write formally to vehemently protest the
proposed closure of CCS. It is a bizzare decision. The CCS has produced
publications which are considered useful not only from the point of view
of understanding social processes in South Africa but also in
interpreting developments on a continental basis. The CCS has positively
projected the image of UKZN in several respects, particularly from the
standpoint of its numerous research reports,Fellowships to South African
and African researchers, all of which correspond to the declared mission
of UKZN. So, why would such an excellent Centre be closed? It would be a
monumental disservice to Africa for the CCS to be closed. Nigerian
academics who have directly and indirectly benefitted from the
intellectual contributions of the CCS call on the UKZN authorities to
hands off CCS.

Dr Chandra Kumar, Research Associate, Departments of Philosophy and
Political and International Studies, Rhodes University:

I was at UKZN as a senior lecturer in the politics department in 2005.
I can say that it was the CCS that made the university more than just
the usual dreary place it typically is. It was because of the events,
talks and generally critical, politically conscious atmosphere fostered
by the people at CCS that UKZN was a fun, exciting place to be. The
university is obviously going in a corporate-friendly direction - even
more than it already was when I was there and the merger with Durban
Westville was beginning to take place. I hope you and your colleagues
can successfully appeal this ridiculous decision. I hope lots of people
protest. UKZN should not give up the one thing that made it different
from almost every other university in the country. The CCS gave the
university a kind of character that made it better, to my mind, than all
the other major universities.

Dr Lorenzo Fioramonti, Post Doctoral Fellow in International Relations
and EU foreign policy, University of Bologna Department of Politics,
Institutions, History:

The reasons put forward by the UKZN management to shut down the CCS are
profoundly misleading, if not hypocritical. All autonomous research
centres around the world struggle to acquire financial sustainability,
especially when they dedicate their time and passion to cutting edge
research, rather than sell out their souls to philanthro-capitalists and
invasive donor agencies. A truly independent research centre is, by
definition, in constant financial turmoil. This is the only way to
retain one's autonomy in today's world. In 2004, when I was still a
young academic criss-crossing South Africa for a three-year fieldwork, I
visited the CCS for a couple of months. I was amazed at the vibrancy of
the commitment and the passion with which they carried out their work.
The CCS has become a symbol of research and activism all over the world.

Kathleen Diga, Canadian International Development Research Centre, Midrand, South Africa:
As an alumna of the School of Development Studies, I am in support of
your appeal to the university to keep the Centre for Civil Society at
UKZN open. During my time at the university, the CCS encouraged the use
of new methodologies and participatory action research to best
understand civil society; such new and innovative ideas should be
encouraged in the name of the advancement of social research. The
Centre has brought a diverse wave of academia to speak on civil society
issues and the CCS tries innovative Web 2.0 and collaborative forums to
open the discussion beyond the physical space of the centre. In
Information & Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), your
attempts to use such creative methods of civil society participation are
beyond the steps taken or used by other research institutes in Africa.

David Sogge, TransNational Institute, Amsterdam (and author of Atlantic
Philanthropies 5-year review of CCS, 2006):

The Krumm Review Panel report of February 2008 clearly substantiates and
reinforces the positive findings of my 2006 review of CCS. I am
therefore puzzled and disheartened that a university leadership, instead
of expressing enthusiasm for a Centre which available evidence and
informed opinion endorse for its vibrant contributions to scholarship,
learning and activism, would reach a wholly contrary conclusion.

Peter Rorvik, Director, UKZN Centre for Creative Arts:
The Centre for Creative Arts has found the Centre for Civil Society to
be one of its most proactive campus partners and we are disappointed and
alarmed at the prospect of its closure. The CCA deeply appreciates CCS
responsiveness to joint activities engaged in by the two centres, such
as forum discussions, film screenings, and community engagements, both
within and outside the CCA's programme of literary and film festivals,
and as a source of relevant conscientising material. We remain
optimistic that ways be found to secure the continuation of this most
necessary voice.

Giuliano Martiniello, PhD student, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds:
To the University of KwaZulu-Natal authorities,
Many people in South Africa and in the world have already described and
can better describe the role that CCS has played in the academic
panorama of the social sciences on a global scale. As a PhD student and
visiting scholar at CCS in the previous year I can say that without the
support of the centre, in terms of human and material resources, my
research and my field work could have not been completed. The scientific
rigour, the opening of the centre to the communities and social
struggles, the reputation and the active involvement of all its members
make the centre one of the cores of the reseacrh in the social sciences
in Africa. An eye on the continent which is at the same time a social
monitor and a sign of hope. Its loss would be unforgivable.

Rebecca Himlin, Executive Director, Planact:
I was appalled to learn of the possibility that the Centre for Civil Society would be closed by the U- KZN, when what our country needs most is critical debate on real issues that affect the poor, something that the CCS never shies away from. If academic institutions repress this, how much worse is it in the rest of society? I was encouraged by the recent news on the CCS website that a process of consultation with academic departments is now underway. I hope that the resolution is a strengthened, even more independent CCS.

Professor Rex Fyles, University of Ottawa Faculty of Social Sciences:
I would like to add my name to the long list of local and international
intellectuals and activists who are deeply concerned about the future of
UKZN's Centre for Civil Society. I recently (May 2008) collaborated
with the Centre in offering a three week course to a group of
development studies stu

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