The Chief Executive Officer of the HSRC, Prof Olive Sishana The Deputy CEO of the HSRC, Dr Themba Masilela The Chairperson of the HSRC Board The outgoing board of the HSRC Ambassadors Members of the media Ladies and Gentlemen It is an honour to be addressing this gathering today, especially at the time when South Africa is reflecting on the 20 years since the first democratic elections of this country in 1994. It is thus befitting that the HSRC has chosen the theme, 20 years of democracy and research excellence’ to celebrate the transformation and achievements of the ‘new’ council since the advent of democracy. It is now proper to recall the origins of this organisation, which has played a very meaningful role in the country, conducting research to inform government’s policies to develop this country for the better. The HSRC was established in 1968, purposefully to justify race-based policies of the apartheid regime. However, today we are talking about a different, a much better and a developmental organisation that the HSRC has become. The council is dedicated to conducting research focusing on national development priorities, encompassing education, poverty eradication, economic development, skills development and the elimination of discrimination and inequality in the country. Thus, this annual report contains a dedicated chapter on the HSRC’s efforts over the last 20 years, reflecting on the strategic site2016s over these two decades and the review of the research conducted in the context of the Council’s motto ‘social science that makes a difference’. The Department of Science and Technology has to thank this organisation for the meaningful contribution its research and surveys and rich data have made to policy and practice in the country. These include South Africa’s HIV/AIDS Behavioural Risks, Sero-Status and Media Impact Survey, South African Social Attitudes Survey, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Studies, and more recently the South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. All these are very important subjects; we cannot forget the how critical maths and science education are in this country, especially at the time when knowledge generation through research and development has been identified the world over as most critical to economic growth. We cannot also forget to mention the role the council plays in community development. For example, the various community-based projects in areas such as Sweetwaters in KwaZulu-Natal, work around sustainable water service delivery, mostly informed by interaction and community members in the Eastern Cape, research dealing with rural development in areas such as the Cofimvaba in the Eastern Cape, to review the impact science and technology can have in the development of a rural community. As a think tank and knowledge producer, the HSRC produces and promotes policy dialogues, seminars, workshops and publications. Perhaps the most important to mention is the council’s involvement in the strategies informing government’s decisions in areas such as the national health insurance, child-care and old age grants, national HIV and STI strategy and skills development among others. I also have to congratulate the HSRC for its continued excellence in corporate governance, receiving sustained clean audits on its financial and performance reports. This is something the Department of Science and Technology and all its entities are increasingly being recognised for – judging by the top position the Department received in the review of government departments’ performance announced recently by Minister Collins Chabane in the Presidency. We are extremely proud of this and without doubt – this trend will continue unwaveringly – for the generations to come. For this I have to say we are grateful to the leadership of this organisation and most recently the outgoing board whose four-year term terminated on 31 October. Former chairperson Mrs Nzimande - the country is very grateful to people like you and you deserve a special mention and will go down in history for having led a board that provided outstanding service to the HSRC and the country. Thanks also to the late chairperson Prof Jake Gerwel and also to Prof Edward Webster, including Profs Rashid Hassan, Pamela Naiddo and Akaligpa Sawyer – you have served us well. To Prof Olive Shisana, thank you as well and we congratulate you for the prestigious Science for Society Golden Award you recently received from the Academy of Science South Africa. May I also wish this council well as the Africa Institute of South Africa is incorporated into the HSRC as of 1 April 2014. We are all well aware of the development priorities of this country and the meaningful role you can play in addressing challenges this country is currently grappling with. In the context of the National Development Plan, we urge the Council to continue its support for this country in its endeavour to develop new sustainable growth plans, and inform government’s priorities nationally, regionally and globally through research. As a social science and humanities partner, the HSRC collaboration with industry, academia and government is highly important in dealing with these priorities and also in the context of the decisions made at the recent Science, Technology and Innovation Summit in Polokwane. In conclusion, I welcome the new board led by Ms Nasima Badsha appointed as of 1 November 2013, and the reappointment of Dr Botlhale Tema and the Profs Lulama Qalinge, Abedayo Olukoshi, Amanda Lourens and Enrico Uliana. The Department of Science and Technology has no doubt that you will continue the objectives of this organisation not only to inform policy but to stimulate debate in the public because it is the public’s voices government must listen to, to be able to inform how best we can work together to deal with challenges such as disease, unemployment and sustainable growth in our communities. In addition, as you take on the AISA, we are relying on you to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences in the country and elsewhere in Africa. Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you.