About CPS

A twenty two year-old independent voice

The Centre for Policy Studies is an independent policy research institution that produces original and thought-provoking research on South Africa’s, and the rest of Africa’s policies, governance and democratisation challenges.Originally established 22 years ago, as part of the Business School of the University of the Witwatersrand in 1987, CPS’s work still enjoys wide recognition among foreign scholars and research institutions. Engaging with, but remaining independent of all political parties and interest groups, it has established itself as a highly respected influence in South Africa’s key policy debates.


Founding director, sociologist Professor Lawrence Schlemmer, assembled a highly talented team in 1987, which began to produce top-quality research on a range of topical issues.In 1992 CPS began to operate from its own premises in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, with Steven Friedman, then a senior researcher, as director. The Centre quickly secured new funding avenues, and its research and administrative capacity expanded steadily. CPS fast became an organisation committed to unstinting independence whilst engaging all stakeholders.

Also in 1992 CPS entered into an arrangement with the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa’s major statutory social research institution, whereby it became an HSRC project while still remaining autonomous.

In 1995 CPS and the HSRC agreed that the Centre could best fulfil its function by restructuring itself as a completely autonomous, non-profit institution. This decision was implemented early in 1996, and for the first time CPS began to operate as an entirely autonomous organisation, registered as an association not for gain under Section 21 of the South African Companies Act. Since then CPS has consolidated its status as a fully independent research organisation.


CPS is currently engaged in a major expansion programme with a strong emphasis on Africa. Besides a concerted effort to raise enough core funding to sustain a high level of research activity, this programme also entails an increased emphasis on:

• international co-operative research projects,
• efforts to enhance and deepen CPS’s field research,
• a training programme designed to improve CPS research expertise, and
• longer-term projects which will deepen the understanding of South Africa’s policy challenges.

Over the next five years, 2007 – 2012, CPS will focus on a clearly defined niche of policy, governance and democratisation. Its commitment to researching continental African challenges and disseminating them widely will be steadfast.