The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Cape Town, South Africa

New Director to Spearhead SALDRU’s Mission of Tackling Inequalities

Michael Hawthorne

In a significant development for the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), Reza Daniels has assumed the role of Director, succeeding Murray Leibbrandt, who stepped down in December 2023. With a firm commitment to challenging inequalities through policy-relevant academic research, Daniels brings a wealth of experience and a vision for fostering continuous methodological innovation within the research landscape.

Daniels, who has been an integral part of the University of Cape Town (UCT) since 2005 and joined SALDRU in 2010, envisions the research unit as a space where innovation is the norm in generating and curating data. His goal is to ensure that all staff members are deeply invested in their work, emphasizing that no task is too small or insignificant.

“It is important to note that SALDRU is a soft-funded organization, meaning that we raise all our own funding. To achieve this vision and carry out our mission, we therefore have to ensure that we are financially sustainable, and that means we must continue to provide relevant and innovative research and data products to the world,” Daniels emphasized.

One key aspect of SALDRU’s approach is its commitment to open-source publication, with Daniels stating that their value system revolves around making research and data widely accessible. He highlighted that even emerging researchers can benefit from the open sharing of code used in their work, promoting transparency and knowledge dissemination.

While acknowledging the challenges of working with secure data, Daniels assured that SALDRU adheres strictly to legal confidentiality rights. This commitment has built trust with stakeholders and paved the way for unique training courses for government and civil society.

Daniels, passionate about economics and its interdisciplinary connections, expressed his motivation to realize the idealistic tenets of the South African Constitution through his work. Leading a team of 66 individuals, including researchers, associates, and support staff, Daniels aims to continue the impactful work that has contributed to UCT’s recognition as the 12th-ranked institution worldwide in Development Studies in 2023.

Born in Alice, Eastern Cape, in 1974, Daniels holds degrees from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, the University of Michigan, and a PhD in Economics from UCT. As the newly appointed director, he looks forward to steering SALDRU towards new heights in addressing societal inequalities through rigorous research and innovation.


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