Discussion Series




Discussions on Service delivery in South Africa

Discussions on Load Shedding

Discussions on 4IR

Discussions on POPIA



Call for commentaries for a discussion series arrow icon

Service delivery in South Africa: Scientific understandings and solutions

Even before South Africa became a democracy in 1994, there were major concerns about service delivery in the country, and it was not long into the post-apartheid era before service delivery was described as a ‘crisis’1. At that time, service delivery challenges were primarily understood as problems related to the provision of electricity, water, and refuse removal services.

Over the years, the South African Journal of Science has published a number of articles and commentaries on service delivery, and, in 2023, we hosted a Discussion Series on interdisciplinary perspectives on load shedding (https://www.sajs.co.za/sajs-discussion-series#load-shedding). Thirty years into our country’s democracy, a key issue for political parties is the question of service delivery. If anything, the notion of there being a ‘crisis’ of service delivery has increased, with increasing concern nationally over crumbling infrastructure and challenges in a wide range of sectors affecting all of society, and all scientists. For example, 30 years ago there was less discussion about potholes, water cut-offs, polluted water, and sewerage issues in major urban areas, including wealthy areas, and of the impact of major challenges in parastatals (including in the transport sectors and the postal system, amongst others) on livelihoods, work, education, health care, public health, governance, and the practice of science.

Clearly, all these issues of service delivery and what to do about it are central to the future of our country, and of concern to scientists and researchers across a very wide range of disciplines. We at the South African Journal of Science are calling for a series of evidence-based and provocative commentaries on service delivery, in order to shape discussion and collaboration in this important overarching field. We welcome pieces of approximately 2000–3000 words on any aspect of scientific thinking and/or action around service delivery. We hope to receive a wide variety of submissions ranging from the most technical (for example, on the question of what the best and most effective and environmentally appropriate ways there may be to fix existing potholes) to more broad-ranging interdisciplinary discussions (for example, on the question of how various tiers of government can maximise the chances that services improve).

Closing date for submissions: 20 May 2024

All submissions will be considered subject to the usual assessment processes of the Journal. Please direct any enquiries about the series to sajs.editor@assaf.org.za

1McDonald DA, Pape J, editors. Cost recovery and the crisis of service delivery in South Africa. London: Zed Books; 2002



Discussions on Load Shedding arrow icon

Load shedding as a result of failures at the political-technological interface (Muller, Sep/Oct 2023)

Load shedding in South Africa: Another nail in income inequality? (Inglesi-Lotz, Sep/Oct 2023)

Liquified petroleum gas provides a technically viable and financially feasible means to reduce Eskom’s diesel cost burden by 30% to 40% (Clark & McGregor, Sep/Oct 2023)

The impact of the increasing residential battery backup systems on load shedding (Ritchie et al., Sep/Oct 2023)

Some real but mostly unconsidered costs hiding in the dark corners of load shedding (Booysen et al., Sep/Oct 2023)

Data gaps will leave scientists ‘in the dark’: How load shedding is obscuring our understanding of air quality (Wright et al., Sep/Oct 2023)

Resilience is not enough: The mental health impact of the ongoing energy crisis in South Africa (Marchetti-Mercer, Sep/Oct 2023)

Load shedding and mental health in South Africa: Methodological challenges of establishing causal links (Bantjes & Swartz, Sep/Oct 2023)

[Discussion closed]



Discussions on 4IR arrow icon

Why there is no technological revolution, let alone a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (Moll, Jan/Feb 2023) 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived. Comments on Moll (S Afr J Sci. 2023;119(1/2), Art. #12916) (Marwala, Jan/Feb 2023)

Defining the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Comments on Moll (S Afr J Sci. 2023;119(1/2), Art. #12916) (Ntlatlapa, Jan/Feb 2023)

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Conceptual paradox or catalyst for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals? (Mbiza & Sinha, Jul/Aug 2023)

Revisiting how scientific research drives technological change: The Fifth Industrial Revolution (Callaghan, Jul/Aug 2023)

[Discussion closed]



Discussions on POPIA arrow icon

Protecting personal information in research: Is a code of conduct the solution? (Thaldar et al., Mar/Apr 2021)

POPIA Code of Conduct for Research (Adams et al., May/Jun 2021)

Drafting a Code of Conduct for Research under the Protection of Personal Information Act No. 4 of 2013 (Adams et al., May/Jun 2021)

The Protection of Personal Information Act and data de-identification (Swales, Jul/Aug 2021)

Why POPIA does not apply to DNA (Thaldar, Jul/Aug 2021))

Seven essential instruments for POPIA compliance in research involving children and adolescents in South Africa (Hertzog et al., Sep/Oct 2021)

Why research institutions should indemnify researchers against POPIA civil liability (Swales et al., Mar/Apr 2022)

Research and the meaning of ‘public interest’ in POPIA (Thaldar, Mar/Apr 2022)

[Discussion closed]