Science system’s Covid-19 interventions ‘well appreciated’ by holders of nation’s purse strings
South Africa’s embattled science system may be able to look forward to a silver lining in the economic recovery plan being put together for the country.
Higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande is drafting a submission to the recovery plan, according to Phil Mjwara, director-general of the Department of Science and Innovation of the ministry.
The economic recovery plan is being prepared by the country’s economic cluster coordinated by the ministers of energy and tourism. It will try to breathe life into South Africa’s ravaged economy, which was under strain even before the pandemic struck.
“The Covid-19 interventions, and what we have done as a science system [to combat the crisis] have been well appreciated, and there’s opportunities for us to take this forward,” Mjwara told the science and technology portfolio committee of Parliament in a virtual hearing on 26 August.
Responding to a question about whether there were any efforts underway to reverse the cuts made to the department’s 2020/21 budget as a result of the pandemic, Mjwara said he and his colleagues felt “encouraged” by the interest shown in science by other departments.
“There’s a general feeling in most of the engagement that perhaps this budget should not have been cut, and possibly that it should be increased to support the work of the department for research to support the broader reindustrialisation,” he said.
“The minister [Nzimande] has agreed we should put together a presentation […] as a submission to the economic recovery document that’s being developed by the economic cluster. That encourages us,” he added.