Mark John Heywood

Welcome to my website! I am a human rights and social justice activist whose ‘career’ reaches back into the years before the end of apartheid in South Africa and hopefully will continue for a few more, until we win a world that fulfiull’s everyone’s rights to dignity, equality and human rights. Over the years I have written hundreds of articles about these issues and about my own experiences and learnings from decades of activism on the frontlines of different struggles: HIV, education, anti-corruption, Covid-19. This website tries to pull these writings together and make them accessible. It is divided between past and present articles I have written on politics, civil society and human rights; longer “peer reviewed” articles and book chapters; and then Bits, Bobs, Blogs, Poetry, and books I recommend, that are self-explanatory. I hope that you find it useful, motivating and even enjoy it! Feel free to contact me if you have questions, ideas or think I might be able to help. 

Mark Heywood is a South African human rights and social justice activist based in Johannesburg. He studied English language and literature at Balliol College, Oxford University and later African literature at the University of the Witwatersrand.

His political activism commenced in the early 1980s in England as a member of the Militant Tendency and continued in South Africa as a leader of the Marxist Workers Tendency of the ANC. After South Africa achieved its liberation in 1994 he joined the AIDS Law Project alongside justice Edwin Cameron and Zackie Achmat.

His activism in civil society spans the whole of the democratic period in South Africa. Between 1997 and 2010 he was the head of the AIDS Law Project. Later he co-founded SECTION27 which incorporated the ALP in 2010. He was also one of the founders of the Treatment Action Campaign in 1998, the AIDS and Rights Alliance of Souther Africa (ARASA), Corruption Watch and Save South Africa.

He has extensive experience of constitutional litigation to realise rights, including the Hoffman, TAC and Dudley Lee cases, as well as in all TAC’s early cases challenging the lawfulness of  excessive pricing by pharmaceutical companies.

He has published extensively on HIV, human rights, the law and politics in both academic and popular media. His memoirs, Get Up! Stand Up! Personal Journeys Towards Social Justice were published in 2017.

Mark stepped down as Executive Director of SECTION27 in May 2017. He is now dividing his time between a position as the founding co-editor of Maverick Citizen, a new civil society/social justice segment of the South Africa’s most widely read online news source, the Daily Maverick and research on activism and strategies to ensure the enforceability of socio-economic rights and the alignment of economic policy with state duties to realise these rights.

In Michaelmas term 2019 he was a visiting researcher at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, University of Oxford. In September 2020 he was appointed as an Adjunct Professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Governance at the University of Cape Town.

Updated 20 October 2020