Prof Mzikazi Nduna joins the Presidential Technical Reference Team for the Review of Discriminatory Laws in Africa

Read time: 4 mins

Prof Mzikazi Nduna, University of Fort Hare incoming Dean for the Faculty of Health Sciences, is one of eight experts from different African countries that have been selected to serve on the Presidential Technical Reference Team for the Review of Gender Discriminatory Laws in Africa.

Prof Nduna, who has extensive continent-wide experience in the field of health and human rights and advocacy towards the realization of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights for all, said she is honoured by the President’s invitation to serve on the team.

“I look forward to serving the team with humility, diligence, and commitment. This is a big task, not only for me but for the South African community as well as the Faculty of Health Sciences at Fort Hare. I have always been committed to justice for all.  This role is going to keep me very busy in 2022 and I look forward to the challenge, the opportunity to learn and to make a difference.”

 She will serve alongside the following experts:

  1. Professor Rashida Manjoo  (South Africa)  - University of Cape Town (Previous Special UN Rapporteur on Violence Against Women)
  2. Meskerem Geset – (Ethiopia) - Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  3. Honourable Madame Bineta Diop (Senegal) – Africa Union
  4. Honourable Maria Teresa Manuela (Angola) - African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
  5. Memory Kachambwa (Regional representative from Kenya) FEMNET, also called the African Women's Development and Communication Network
  6. Dr Eleanor Nwadinobi (Nigeria) - Every Woman Counts
  7. Emma Mogaka (Kenya) - Akili Dada, an international award-winning leadership incubator.

According to Prof Nduna, the law plays a critical role in health justice. “We see this in the catalytic role played by anti-stigma, anti-discrimination, Ending Violence Against Women and Girls, abortion laws and many others. Evidence suggests that the legacy of colonial laws in Africa still prevents many men, women, and gender non-binary people from adequate access to services, in an array of areas.”

“These laws need to be repealed and replaced with anti-discriminatory legal tools. Most African states are signatories to global and continental tools such as the Maputo Protocol that are aimed at addressing gender discrimination. Ratifying these tools is a first and important step that needs to be followed up with timely, continuous, and informed advocacy to support the transformation of the judiciary and align it with the aspirations as expressed in the tools.”

She further indicates that President Cyril Ramaphosa plays a very important role in supporting political advocacy to facilitate and usher a new dawn of anti-discriminatory laws across the continent.  “To this effect, President Ramaphosa recognized the identification and repealing of gender discriminatory laws that perpetuate violence against women as one of the high levels actions he took forward over his AU Chairship in 2020.”

The Team is to provide technical guidance and oversight of the review of discriminatory laws in Africa. It will provide technical oversight to the Centre for Human Rights which is undertaking research, to provide the evidence, and make recommendations that the President and other key role players will use to take this agenda forward. The research will be used in political advocacy for legal regime change.

Prof Nduna brings to the Team a feminist analytical lens and research expertise. She has worked in the field of health justice for 25 years. She is a household name in the South African context as a regular guest lecturer at the South African Judiciary Education Institute (SAJEI) and at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, amongst others. She is a research partner with a number of academic institutions in the Southern Africa region as well as with civil society.

Prof Nduna was a member of the national interim committee which worked on the very first National GBVF Strategic Plan for the country. Her recent research work in the area of health justice is with the AIDS Foundation of South Africa’s Sex Rights Africa Network and the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre. She currently serves in two other high-level task teams: SANAC’s Prevention Task Team and the UNAIDS’s Gender Assessment task team.

Prof Nduna will officially assume duties at UFH on 1 January 2022.