The searchlight on South Africa’s affairs recently saw ‘withdrawal’ from Africa by two of its most prominent scientists
Two of Africa’s Covid experts are leaving the continent. Is this a brain drain or gain for Africa?
The searchlight on South Africa’s affairs recently saw “withdrawal” from Africa by two of its most prominent scientists.
And this is not the first time the Nobel laureate, Professor Desmond Tutu, has been reduced to comical bestiality by government’s bumbling.
In December scientists at six European Union institutions stepped down amid a standoff over proposed structural reforms.
In October, two South African medical professors – Desmond Basanez and Robert Chauranga – announced their departure, six months after Rotterdam-based Achim Steiner, head of the UN environmental programme, called for his resignation.
Their emphatic stance against government’s refusal to cut budget cuts at universities and health institutions has deepened a long-held divergence between the state of the science sector in Africa and Europe.
In 2015 Tutu himself wrote an open letter to the International Conference of Mayors in Johannesburg, asking how it was that there were scientific facilities in Britain, Norway and Sweden – not to mention the US – capable of sustaining a population of 14 million in Swaziland while the nation was hamstrung with an abnormally high student population of 4 million.
“Our own mathematics and economics and technology education needs more than enough resources to sustain and educate the one-quarter of our population without having to borrow resources from within the country,” Tutu told the conference.
Now the South African science sector is bracing itself for more departures.
According to the South African institute of Biomedical Sciences, the country needs 1,000 more researchers per annum to increase from an estimated 36 to 50 scientists for every 100,000 people to a global standard of 70 scientists per 100,000 people.
This is what Tutu called an “ordinariness” – coming from a man who, given his glorious testimony to Nelson Mandela’s humanity, would have expected nothing less.