Support for Zimbabwean Science Investigated

Scientists in the Zimbabwean diaspora with the state of science in that country at heart will meet with South African and Zimbabwean national academies this week to explore avenues of intervention and support for the Zimbabwean science community.

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), supported by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, is joining forces with the Zimbabwe Academy of Science (ZAS) and the Zimbabwe Young Academy of Science (ZIMYAS) on 14 September 2016 to identify ways to mobilise expatriates to contribute towards science and technology development in Zimbabwe.

The economic decline in Zimbabwe over the last 20 years has led to increased emigration of professional Zimbabwean nationals who would have made a contribution to the country’s social-economic advancement.

The Zimbabwe science community, for many years a thriving and leading group of researchers in Africa, has largely left the country with the vast majority relocating to the Republic of South Africa. The migration of these professionals has placed a large burden on the remaining members of the ZAS, most of whom are retired and who had to fill the gaps within research institutions, while simultaneously participating in academy activities without adequate support. Since ZAS was established in October 2004, the academy has operated through voluntary contributions from its membership and has relied on small capacity building grants from the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC). However, ZAS continues to struggle to function and implement activities under the current adverse economic conditions in Zimbabwe.

It is envisaged that possible future support would range from volunteering for secretariat duties, monetary contributions and contributing as visiting scholars to institutions in Zimbabwe.

Some 35 scientists representing all science disciplines ranging from natural to social sciences and from academies of science, young academies of science and academia will attend. Mr Trevor Ncube, Deputy Chairperson of the Mail and Guardian and prominent Zimbabwean-born business man will be the guest speaker.

Issued by the Academy of Science of South Africa.
The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) celebrates its 20th year as official academy of South Africa this year. ASSAf was inaugurated in May 1996. It was formed in response to the need for an Academy of Science consonant with the dawn of democracy in South Africa: activist in its mission of using science and scholarship for the benefit of society, with a mandate encompassing all scholarly disciplines that use an open-minded and evidence-based approach to build knowledge.

ASSAf thus adopted in its name the term 'science' in the singular as reflecting a common way of enquiring rather than an aggregation of different disciplines. Its Members are elected on the basis of a combination of two principal criteria, academic excellence and significant contributions to society.

The Parliament of South Africa passed the Academy of Science of South Africa Act (Act 67 of 2001), which came into force on 15 May 2002. This made ASSAf the only academy of science in South Africa officially recognised by government and representing the country in the international community of science academies and elsewhere.

For more on the history of ASSAf

Patricia Scholtz
Communication Manager
Tel: +27 12 349 6618
Cell: +27 82 550 0757

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