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Robert van Niekerk

Wits School of Governance's Chair in Public Governance, University of the Witwatersrand

Professor Robert Van Niekerk Van Niekerk holds a BA (English) & BA Hons (Industrial Sociology) from the University of Cape Town, an MSc (Social Policy) from the London School of Economics (LSE) and an MPhil and DPhil (Comparative Social Policy) from the University of Oxford. He was a holder of the LSE Students Union Anti-Apartheid Scholarship.

Van Niekerk’s current research projects in development for funding include a comparative international research project on ‘Cultures of Social Solidarity and the Public Good’ with scholars based at the University of Havana, Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo and the Catholic University of Luanda and an international comparative research project on ‘Re-imagining the Ethos of an Efficient and Capable Public Service in South Africa’ focused on the health service.

He will also look at the evolution of policy thinking in South Africa on social democracy and the establishment of a re-distributive welfare state that can lock the middle-class into the provision of public goods such as a national health service and a single, comprehensive system of education.

He has secured research grants (and been invited to participate in research projects funded by) from institutions including the Department for International Development, the Economic and Social Research Council (UK), the Mellon Foundation and the World Health Organisation.

He has co-edited special issues and published (and co-authored) journal articles in Social Policy and Administration, the South African Medical Journal; Health Policy and Planning; Transformation and the Journal of African American Historyas well as co-edited volumes on the politics of South African health care reform and authored articles on social democracy, social citizenship and the African National Congress. A co-authored book with Prof Vishnu Padayachee , ‘ Shadows of Liberation: Contestation and Compromise in the Economic and Social Policy of the African National Congress, 1943–1996’ is due for publication in October 2019 by Wits University Press.


  • –present
    Wits School of Governance's Chair in Public Governance, University of the Witwatersrand