Nelson Mandela Foundation

Dialogue & Advocacy Fellowship offered with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation

“Sadly, it is quite possible that when we meet again we will be no better placed to face the unequal world in which we live. Yet it need not go that way. A concern with equity in crisis management would lessen suffering in many countries now, and offer new ideas to inspire us to build a less unequal world in the future. Since we are less than half way into the crisis, dare we hope this can still happen?” Amartya Sen (2020)


Covid-19 is inflicting health, economic and social upheaval the world over. Economies have been brought to a standstill and economic and social activities dramatically curbed as governments attempt to ‘flatten the curve’. The South Africa government, like many countries, have tried to cushion the pandemic’s effects on citizens by introducing an array of relief measures with communities, organisations and philanthropists also playing a supporting role.

While Covid-19 itself does not wholly discriminate, the economic impact it has brought on certainly does. Many have argued that the failures of the global economic order have been laid bare by the pandemic. Although some people have been able to work remotely with continued pay, have access to government relief measures or have been able to lean on financial reserves, many have not been this fortunate. While the knowledge that we live in one of the most unequal countries in the world never escaped us, the reality of this in a time of crisis has been revealing with haunting pictures of thousands of people lined up for food parcels being emblematic of this.

We believe that we can use this as an opportunity for reflection, planning and advocacy for the kind of communities and country we want to live and thrive in as well as the type of economy and society that needs to be actualised in order to realise this. We believe that we are not too deep in the economic spell we have caste for ourselves to make the most of the pandemic, such that we realise better outcomes for the most vulnerable. This stems from the conviction that life should not go back to normal and that we must be moved to action in ways that can change our economic and social trajectory. In particular, we can use this time to reflect on how we can restructure our economy to care for people who are too poor to be part of ‘the system’ and those whose livelihoods are so vulnerable that a month without income cripples them. 

To help realise what we believe the moment calls for, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is recruiting a Dialogue & Advocacy Fellow which will be based at the Foundation until the end of 2021. It is envisioned that this Fellow will contribute towards thought leadership through written outputs, public engagements as well as convening relevant stakeholders.


The Nelson Mandela Foundation aims to recruit a Fellow that will be based within the Dialogue and Advocacy unit. We envision this person as being someone who not only contributes towards public discourse but who also sees research as a verb in that they are committed towards actualising their proposals into tangible outcomes. We are looking for someone who can take initiative, network and engage with stakeholders in a meaningful way. Where possible, they must use relevant empirical evidence from both South Africa and elsewhere in the world. Any interventions or initiatives they propose must be possible in our local context. 

Interested candidates can submit applications in line with either one of these focus areas: 

a) The uneasy task ahead: The Economy

As we grapple with the notion of building back better and what that means for us in a local context, there are proposals such as universal basic income that are being proposed as possible mechanisms for easing the burden of the country’s poor. It is envisioned that the Fellow selected would help the Foundation shape its economic positions, have an understanding of economic debates and research and also contribute to the public discourse in these areas. Moreover, the Fellow selected should also be willing to apply their mind to issues of sustainability and the mainstreaming thereof, as well as creating public awareness about the need to be deliberate about our development path as a country. Moreover, international approaches need to also be considered so as to locate South Africa within the global context. Applicants should outline what research, dialogue convenings and other initiatives they would want to undertake while at the Foundation as part of what they hope to achieve – this should be done in Appendix A.

b) A place to call our own: Urban land and housing

The issue of land reform is central to realising a more just and equitable future. Beyond mere rhetoric, there is a need to consider and action proposals that can realise this. We believe that the issue of land reform can be used as a yard stick to measure progress and redress as a country, and while much of the focus has been on rural land, there is a need to focus on urban land in the context of urbanisation. Housing is linked to the issue of land, especially when speaking to the urban context. The selected Fellow should help to advance the discourse on this important issue. More specifically, applications submitted should outline what research, dialogue convenings and other initiatives they would want to undertake while at the Foundation as part of what they hope to achieve - this should be done in Appendix A.

Fellowship Selection and Application Criteria

To be considered for the Fellowship, the Fellow needs to:

  • Have at least a Masters degree or be studying towards one
  • Must be able to write for a popular audience and show proof of ability to do so
  • Must be comfortable with public speaking and stakeholder engagement
  • Must be able to take initiative, work with little supervision and be self-motivated
  • Must be able to convene dialogues and be willing to support the Dialogue and Advocacy team with work that is related to their chosen focus area
  • Must be willing to meet deadlines and be hardworking
  • Preference may be given to candidates that are Gauteng based

To apply:

  • Prospective Fellows will need to complete the application form ie. Appendix A, which must be sent along with their CV to 
  • The closing date for applications is the 21st of May 2021, and the expected start date is the 1st of June 2021.

The position:

  • This position is full time, until the end of 2021 
  • The position will be a combination of working remotely as well as on site at the Nelson Mandela Foundation offices in Johannesburg
  • The remuneration for this position is R30 000 a month, with a R1 000 data and airtime allowance 
  • The Nelson Mandela Foundation reserves the right to terminate the Fellowship, at any point, if output does not meet agreed upon targets 
  • The Fellowship will incorporate a leadership development component

Appendix A