Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) was founded in 2010, by a group of South Africans with experience in research, academia, policy-making and governance who saw the need to create a platform of engagement around strategic issues facing South Africa. In the Nine (9) years of its existence, a period which has seen remarkable growth in the work and reach of the organisation. The central focus of the institute is in-depth, strategic research, as well as retreats and roundtables bringing together leaders from various sectors of South African society to explore the country’s challenges.
Current developments in South Africa and across the globe cry out for deep, dispassionate, strategic and long-term thinking about the challenges facing our society and humanity at large. MISTRA is a think-tank that, both by conception and practice, precisely provides this kind of analysis, thinking and engagement. MISTRA combines research and rigorous discourse with an array of partners, the Institute seeks to deepen debate and broaden avenues of enquiry on a plethora of issues, including economics, governance, history, art, culture and natural sciences. MISTRA is built on a long-held and deeply entrenched passion among Africans to deliberate socio-political issues that have both a local impact and a global resonance. MISTRA endeavours to provide platforms for dialogue and forge partnerships for intellectual exploration that both bolster a fledgling democracy.
The aim is to deepen the nation’s understanding of our macro-social dynamics and propose courses of action that will take the country onto a higher trajectory of development. MISTRA has completed sixteen (16) priority research projects and is currently undertaking a further seven (7) such projects to be completed within the next three years.
Our vision as an institute for research and reflection on domestic and global dynamics with a bearing on the advancement of South African society. Our Mission is to advance South Africa’s development by addressing the complex challenges that straddle issues of nation-formation, economic growth, social equity, science and technology and positioning in a globalised world. Our objectives include; A progressive Institute broadly informed by the ideals of our Constitution, to: Develop and advance South Africa’s paradigm of thinking and reservoir of knowledge in a wide variety of disciplines, Advance the all-round development of South African society for the attainment of an improving quality of life, Deepen South African democracy, Promote African development and democracy, Advance Africa’s global interests in pursuit of peace and equitable development. Finally, to contribute to the mobilisation of society around a common vision.
The institute is a non-profit organisation, reliant largely on donor funding to ensure its work is driven by an independent, objective analysis of the country’s challenges, rather than the need to solely generate income. The current economic climate has impacted negatively on ’MISTRA's funding base, and has resulted in a financial challenge. MISTRA has been forced to implement measures to reduce expenditure, including non-renewing of staff contracts and a delay in our key research projects.
The Institute consists of three Faculties to provide focus to its research:
• Political Economy: This faculty deals with socio-economic issues and their intersection with the social structure of South African society and politics.
• Knowledge Economy and Scientific Advancement (KESA): This faculty deals with the logics of natural sciences and their relevance for social development, including such issues as discovery, invention and innovation, incubation, adaptation, appropriation and quantitative analysis.
• Humanity: This faculty interrogates history, arts and culture and broad issues such as ideology and religion – in relation to societal development.
Integrated with these will be cross-cutting undertakings including Prospective and Longitudinal Studies