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South African Science Forum to go ahead despite pandemic

Image: GovernmentZA [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

But the conference could end up going virtual, says science minister

The annual Science Forum South Africa will not be cancelled because of the coronavirus epidemic, the minister of higher education, science and technology has said.

The statement is included in the prepared address Blade Nzimande intended to deliver during the Department of Science and Innovation emergency budget debate on 24 July in a virtual sitting of the National Assembly. 

“If need be, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 event will be presented virtually,” the statement said.

However, Nzimande did not include it and a few other parts of the prepared address during the live sitting. The full address was released unaltered, after the sitting, and the DSI confirmed to Research Professional that plans for SFSA were, indeed, going ahead.

Sweeping cuts to South Africa’s science budget have led to the cancellation of other regular events, notably the National Science Week. The SFSA is one of the country’s largest science gatherings and usually takes place in December at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research conference venue in Pretoria.

Nzimande added that preparations for the World Science Forum, which South Africa will host in 2021, are ongoing and have not yet fallen victim to the pandemic.