Graduate’s Research Explores Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Working World

Graduate’s Research Explores Impact of Artificial Intelligence on the Working World
PhD graduate, Dr Nikhal Kumar.

Human Resource (HR) Management PhD graduate Dr Nikhal Kumar’s exploratory research titled: Taking the “Human” Out of Human Resources in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?, examines the impact Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technological advancement have on the HR function.

‘This is a fast-growing topic with many developments in recent times hence I found it intriguing to fathom how technology is going to disrupt HR and possibly replace some of the activities performed by humans,’ said Kumar.

He added that the findings from the study, supervised by Professor S Brijball Parumasur, would benefit organisations as they prepared to transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

‘It concluded that although there is a great detail of automation and technological advancement taking place, there still is a need for humans with the right skill set to drive these processes to obtain maximum efficiencies.’

The challenges of balancing his studies with the pressures of working as a business manager (Global Banking & CMB) at HSBC Bank’s Johannesburg branch had been overwhelming at times.

‘I actually took a year off my studies,’ said Kumar. ‘Working for an international bank can be very demanding with long hours and a high-pressure environment. Fortunately, my supervisor was very accommodating and understanding of my work schedule and we tried to navigate around this as much as possible.’

Kumar was determined to graduate not only for his career development, but due to a bet he had with his father, retired eThekwini Municipality Chief Financial Officer, Dr Krish Kumar.

‘I enjoy a very competitive relationship with my dad and we had a friendly wager on who could complete their PhD first. He beat me to it, graduating from UKZN in 2017.

‘I got a lot of support from my family, friends, and my partner, which I think is critical. They always encouraged me to persevere when I wanted to give up and pushed me right up until the end,’ said Kumar.

With plans to tie the knot in October, celebrating the culmination of his PhD journey ahead of his nuptials is the cherry on top.

‘I am very excited about completing my PhD ahead of my wedding! My fiancé is a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria, so I am holding thumbs for her to finish her PhD soon as well.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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PhD Study Explores Factors behind SA’s Slow Adoption of Digital Terrestrial TV

PhD Study Explores Factors behind SA’s Slow Adoption of Digital Terrestrial TV
PhD in Management graduate, Dr Brian Mabaso.

The continual long delays of South Africa’s transition from analogue broadcasting to digital terrestrial television set to have concluded across all nine provinces by the end of January motivated PhD in Management graduate Dr Brian Mabaso to examine possible reasons for the slow adoption of digital terrestrial television (DTT) and the intention to adopt DTT in eThekwini Municipality.

The study supervised by Professor Brian McArthur and Dr Karunagaran Naidoo aims to shed light on factors that are contributing towards the adoption of household technology like set-top boxes.

‘The study focused on three areas: firstly, it set to establish possible reasons for the slow adoption of digital terrestrial television in eThekwini Municipality - the biggest municipality in KZN. Secondly, it was to measure appetite (adoption intention) for DTT from the citizens of eThekwini Municipality, and lastly to develop a framework for DTT adoption,’ explained Mabaso.

The study’s findings revealed that policy inconsistencies, leadership instability at senior government level, poor awareness campaigns, political interference, budget and stakeholder engagement amongst other reasons as the possible reasons for the slow adoption of DTT.

 ‘It also found that the intention to adopt DTT by citizens of eThekwini municipality was significant thus implying that the city’s residents were willing to adopt it. Furthermore, the research has successfully developed a framework for DTT adoption,’ added Mabaso.

With this qualification, Mabaso plans to pursue an academic career as a researcher or lecturer.

‘Possessing a PhD as a Black person creates endless opportunities! I can develop policies for government or even go the route of consulting for big corporates. My experience was made easy by the fact that I had a strong and supportive team of supervisors whose assistance, patience and guidance I am grateful for.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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MBA Research Explores COVID-Induced Challenges Impacting UKZN’s Fundraising Efforts

MBA Research Explores COVID-Induced Challenges Impacting UKZN’s Fundraising Efforts
UKZN Foundation’s Donor Relationship Manager, Mr Tebelo Kokoropo graduated with an MBA.

UKZN Foundation’s Donor Relationship Manager and Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate Mr Tebelo Kokoropo hopes to use insights gathered from his research to strengthen the University’s fundraising initiatives, which are critical for the development of opportunities for students.

Kokoropo’s MBA study titled: Investigating the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the University of KwaZulu-Natal Foundation’s Fundraising Efforts, was supervised by Dr Nomkhosi Luthuli. It focused on the Higher Education fundraising landscape, in the context of UKZN, in relation to COVID-19, to establish challenges and opportunities created by the pandemic.

‘The study identified possible opportunities and ways in which UKZN can generate more revenue to support its strategic programmes. Therefore, it has both a community and societal appeal to it since it aims to identify how the University can generate more revenue, particularly on how we can secure more funds for bursaries for our students,’ said Kokoropo.

With extensive business development and fundraising experience having worked as a fundraiser in the United Kingdom for charities including the British Red Cross, Shelter, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, and Amnesty International, Kokoropo is excited about using his newly acquired critical thinking and leadership skills to enhance his career.

‘The more revenue we generate the more revenue for our students meaning more of our youth will be educated, trained, and skilled to ultimately contribute to the development of our communities and our country,’ he said.

‘I’m very passionate about youth development, entrepreneurship and community development hence my research encompasses these critical areas and assists with strategies to advance in them. An MBA empowers one with skills to use to grow and sustain organisations. I would recommend it to anyone who intends to one day run a business or an organisation.’

Individuals or organisations that would like to donate to the UKZN Foundation should email Mr Tebelo Kokoropo at kokoropot@ukzn.ac.za or visit https://foundation.ukzn.ac.za/  for more information.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Supplied


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65-Year-Old Graduate Believes in Life-Long Learning

65-Year-Old Graduate Believes in Life-Long Learning
Dr Delani Mthembu whose research explored the challenges and impact of school leadership.

I can proudly say, it’s done…accomplished at the age of 65!

These were the words of PhD graduate, educationist and leadership expert Dr Delani Mthembu at the culmination of his doctoral journey.

With age being nothing but a number for Mthembu when it comes to education, achieving a doctorate in leadership studies at a senior stage in his life was an important milestone not only in his role as the former Director for Leadership Development at N2Growth Africa - consistently ranked by Forbes as a top executive search firm and now Executive Chairperson, DelaniM International - but also in his work as an educator and tutor.

‘I was motivated for this hard and challenging journey by my students,’ said Mthembu. ‘I have tutored and delivered presentations at various prestige universities and my students and others continue to call me Dr or Professor. In my inner being, I vowed never to disappoint the respect and honour they give me and quietly continued to study.

‘The doctoral degree stimulates me to make further contributions to the knowledge space and conversations about leadership and provide support to school leaders who struggle to perform,’ he said.

In his research titled: School Leadership in South Africa: Towards Embedding Presence for Principals for the Creation of Societal Value, Mthembu explores the challenges and impact of school leadership. The study, supervised by Professor Bibi Zaheenah Chummun, argues for the need to support principals in South Africa’s post-democratic dispensation.

‘What was really rewarding in the research I did was to see school leaders excited and inspired as they achieved school improvement, and turnaround achievements. In my research I had to accept that I was not an expert in every field and that many younger people within family and outside could be my mentors, especially in technical research areas,’ said Mthembu.

He aims to contribute to South Africa’s continual search for solutions and frameworks to improve schooling.

‘The leadership framework that I have provided is in a three-legged pot shape that is cyclical rather than linear. It represents an African form of exploration, expression and design that show strength of collective and collaborative partnership. My qualification is not the end of the journey but the foundation for further dialogue, conversation, inquiry, and application in a transformative and developmental South African society. In my engagements with a selected principal and a sample of NGOs working in schooling, I was thrilled to realise that our South African Constitutional principles and values dominate what defines a school.’

Mthembu thanked his supervisor, Chummun, for her continued support, mentorship, and guidance, his family for understanding when his studies forced him to sacrifice spending time with them, and God for all the blessings.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan
 


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Doctoral Study Examines Effect of Twitter on Corporate Reputation Management

Doctoral Study Examines Effect of Twitter on Corporate Reputation Management
MISA Regional Secretariat Director and Executive Director of its Zimbabwe region, Dr Tabani Moyo.

The effect of Twitter - as a social blog - on corporate reputation management in the telecommunication industry in Zimbabwe, was the focus of research completed by the Regional Secretariat Director of the Media Institute of South Africa (MISA) and Executive Director of the Institute’s Zimbabwe region, Dr Tabani Moyo.

Moyo earned a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree from UKZN for his study which aimed to determine how Twitter can be used as a social blog to improve the corporate reputation of organisations operating in Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry.

This was undertaken guided by the broader objective of developing insights on how the telecommunications industry is responding to shifts from traditional to contemporary approaches in corporate reputation being driven by social blogs.

The study examined whether social blogs contributed to social capital and new perspectives in the management of corporate reputation in the Zimbabwean telecommunications industry. The study revealed that social blogs direct traditional approaches to reputation management in the industry towards new perspectives. A framework on the effect of social blog platforms on reputation management was developed to respond to these disruptions.

Moyo’s research was guided by experts Professor Cecile Proches (Leadership); Professor Emmanuel Mutambara (Management), and Dr Upasana Singh (Information Technology).

Understanding that acceptance into doctoral studies is also dependent on supervision capacity, Moyo says he was pleasantly surprised when he was accepted at UKZN and three supervisors were assigned to guide him which made the University his institution of choice. ‘When I applied I initially had one prospective supervisor but ended up having three, which shows you how meaningful and value-adding the process is. Above all, UKZN is a competitive institution, highly positioned and indeed a global forum for knowledge reproduction.’

Moyo juggled studies with a demanding job at MISA in Zimbabwe where he leads the team dual roles as being its country director and regional director - the regional network has a presence in eight southern African countries. He is tasked with providing strategic leadership in the development and implementation of MISA’s Southern Africa Regional Strategy (2021 – 2025), including leading and managing regional programmes.

Acquiring the DBA degree anchored his approach towards gearing MISA to attend to complex realities facing the telecommunications industry and remain ahead with a clearly defined strategy that leverages on collaboration and solidarity with the entire ecosystem that supports strategic thematic areas. Moyo says the DBA has been a transformational force upon which MISA strategy is anchored.

The new qualification has given Moyo a competitive edge over his peers as he now has expertise in communications, marketing, business administration and academia. He holds qualifications in Journalism and Communications, Marketing Management, Media Studies and Business Administration. He is also a certified Chartered Marketer of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and Fellow of the CIM-UK.

Moyo sits on regional, continental and international boards which allows MISA to connect the dots from its national chapters to global spaces. He also served on the Southern African Internet Governance Forum (SAIGF); and is the Vice-Chair of the Pan African access to the information network, the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC); IFEX, a global network of more than 100 institutions defending expression; and the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), an international network of more than 200 organisations defending media and journalism at a global scale.

His main interest now is to embark on meaningful research that impacts positive change in moving humanity forward.

Moyo has started sharing the findings of his research with the telecommunications industry in southern Africa through publishing in reputable journals.

His three supervisors congratulated him on his achievement, they said: ‘Dr Tabani Moyo, you are a perfect example that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve anything. It was such an interesting academic journey mentoring you. We congratulate you on earning this doctoral degree and for setting a new direction for the southern African Media Fraternity.’

Moyo, a karate enthusiast, says he is indebted to his supervisors and grateful to his wife and two sons for their unwavering support during his doctoral journey.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan



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Support Employees Suffering from Depression in the Workplace - Researcher Advocates

Support Employees Suffering from Depression in the Workplace - Researcher Advocates
Master of Laws graduate, Ms Pamella Mlonzi.

As a former social worker turned lawyer, Master of Laws graduate, Ms Pamella Mlonzi is using both her expertise and experience in these areas to focus on the prevalence of depression as a mental health issue affecting employees in the workplace.

The Director of her own Law firm, Pam and Partners Inc, who has 10 years’ working experience at the Department of Social Development, is using her research study to advocate for employers and all relevant stakeholders to work together in supporting employees suffering from depression by applying reasonable accommodation in accordance with labour laws. 

‘Pandemics such as COVID-19, and loss of lives and incomes further contributed to declining economic activities and drastically affected the mental wellness of the majority of workers. This means employers are directly affected and are expected to make certain adjustments to accommodate employees who are suffering from depression,’ said Mlonzi.

The study is titled: Effects of Depression in the Workplace and Retainability of Employees through Reasonable Accommodation. It highlights that there has been a surge in depression diagnosis and the World Health Organization has acknowledged it as a disability likely to affect individuals holistically for different reasons, including workplace pressures. The research study was supervised by Ms Nicci Whitear-Nel.

‘Mental illnesses, like depression, are more prevalent these days than in the past and it is certainly costing the employers productivity either through absenteeism or presentism (which is caused by attending work while unwell and yielding no profitable results). The balance of focusing on the interests of the employers and that of employees is a difficult one yet it remains very critical. Mental health issues ought to be addressed with sensitivity to eliminate stigmatization and discrimination,’ said Mlonzi.

While she had to extend her studies by an extra six months due to the pressures of being a candidate attorney, a wife and a mother of three while studying during a pandemic, Mlonzi is proud she persevered.

‘When I decided to enrol for my master’s, I knew it would be a stretch for my family to sacrifice another two to three years for my studies,’ she said. ‘During this time, I also gave birth to my last born, which meant doing studies and nursing an infant. I can’t thank my supportive husband enough for helping to hold the fort all these years and ensuring that our children’s homework was done while I was attending evening classes. I’m also grateful to my supportive wider family and friends.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Design Thinking will Help Boost KZN Tourism Sector - Finds Research

Design Thinking will Help Boost KZN Tourism Sector - Finds Research
A proud moment for Dr Zahir Sayed.

Tourism was one of the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization - and the South African industry was not spared the hardships! This motivated Dr Zahir Sayed to embark on a research journey which earned him a Doctor of Philosophy degree.

The title of his study was: Design Thinking as a Strategic Lever in Promoting Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal.  Sayed was supervised by Professor Cecile Proches and Dr Simon Taylor of the Graduate School of Business and Leadership and Dr Abdulla Kader, UKZN adjunct lecturer from Nedbank in Durban.

Sayed’s study explored the contribution of design thinking - an approach intended for practical and creative problem-solving - as a strategic lever within the tourism sector in KwaZulu-Natal.

The study showed that design thinking can be established within this sector to promote tourism with various strategic outcomes. Sayed has subsequently developed a design thinking framework model aimed at enabling the tourism sector and its leadership to confront their challenges strategically through the effective implementation and use of design thinking. 

The information obtained from this study offered sufficient justification for the development of a design thinking model given the current difficulties facing the tourism industry. The study recommended that once the tourism industry collaborates and engages with key stakeholders within their own circle and surroundings, the design thinking model developed from this study should be applied with various customised strategies.

Sayed says his investigations demonstrate the power of action research in solving real business and societal problems.

In his job as a regional production planning and scheduling specialist for the KZN region of the South African Revenue Services, Sayed supports operational management teams to schedule their users according to a specific published production plan, and to monitor the regional adherence to this process. His role additionally involves the capacity management of branch office resources for virtual and office appointments. 

He plans to engage with the tourism industry more rigorously in an attempt to make inroads into presenting the model at a government level as well as in the private sector. ‘My study found that collaboration, which is a key ingredient for this sector, was missing. I am hopeful that my study and its related outcomes serve as a catalyst and stimulate better synergy between all key stakeholders,’ he said. 

Reflecting on his achievement he said: ‘All praise is due to almighty ALLAH for blessing me with this opportunity and for granting me the strength and determination to successfully complete the study.’ He explained that he felt a sense of accomplishment, especially since the journey involved its fair share of “turbulences”, ranging from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sector which directly affected his research study, to the loss of a loved one. ‘It has been emotional on many levels and I am really humbled by my achievement.’

‘I was fortunate to have three excellent supervisors. I have previously worked with Professor Proches and Dr Kader who both bring unique perspectives to the table - Proches from an academic angle while Kader always provides industry’s viewpoint. The experience was really encouraging and inspiring for a doctoral student,’ he said. ‘It was my first experience with Dr Taylor and his expertise really guided me.’

He says the supervisors allowed him to express himself freely and make a valuable contribution while keeping him aligned in terms of doctoral level research requirements.

Said Dr Kader in response: ‘As supervisors and being on this journey with you, it gives us all great pleasure to see you achieve this milestone in your academic journey. Your hard work, resilience and attitude have been admirable. The manner in which you accepted constructive feedback will hold you in good stead. You are bound to do great things in the world. It is our wish that you build a field of virtue that will transform your life and light up our world.’

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Mother Studies Through COVID-19 Infection to Graduate

Mother Studies Through COVID-19 Infection to Graduate
Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management graduate, Ms Crizanne van Wyk.

COVID-19 took its toll on postgraduate student Ms Crizanne van Wyk but with super-charged support from home and UKZN as well as benefitting from online lectures she graduated - with distinction - earning a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management.

During her studies van Wyk also had to balance her responsibilities as a babe-in-arms mom with that of career demands as a Human Resources Practitioner at KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

‘I got COVID-19 during the “third wave” while pregnant with my second baby.  This was a stressful time but having classes online helped me navigate through the challenge,’ said van Wyk.

All these difficulties could easily have led to her halting her studies but she persevered with strong support from her husband and UKZN staff.

‘Running a home with a husband, a four-year-old son and a six-month-old daughter combined with work and studying was daunting, especially with the “new normal” of online learning. The last semester kicked off the week I gave birth but I managed to liaise with my administrator and lecturers and they provided great support to make sure I did not miss out on the first two weeks,’ said van Wyk.

Whilst working and studying from home and recovering from COVID was challenging, she said it opened up opportunities for her to bond with her family.

‘I pushed myself beyond every boundary! Even when it meant working at odd hours to ensure that I kept to my deadlines and all my submissions.

‘I attended class some nights with my baby right next to me - that’s where online learning helped and worked for me,’ she said.

‘It was an interesting journey that required a lot of discipline, dedication, and diligence. I sometimes doubted I would stay the course but, in the end, it was worth all the hard work and late nights.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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No Holding Back This Young Doctoral Graduate!

No Holding Back This Young Doctoral Graduate!
Dr Tamlyn McKenzie whose research was fuelled by her passion for children and adults with disabilities.

For UKZN School of Accounting, Economics and Finance academic Dr Tamlyn McKenzie completing her PhD as a mom with a new-born son as well as a young daughter was not easy but definitely worth it!

‘I had both my children while pursuing my PhD. My four-year-old daughter was born in the early years of my study and I had to take a break to manage being a first-time mom in a new job at UKZN,’ said McKenzie.

Her son was born in August of this year. ‘I was pregnant whilst completing my thesis - the whole experience highlighted for me the significant challenges women, in particular, face in their pursuit of Higher Education. Balancing your time between your family and children and your thesis is very difficult and results in sacrifices. Time sacrifices are sometimes frustrating because it usually results in taking longer to graduate.’

McKenzie’s research was fuelled by her passion for children and adults with disabilities and their access to education.

Her thesis titled: Childhood and Adult Disability: Impacts on Education and the Labour Market in South Africa, constructs nationally representative measures of disability, and quantifies disability gaps experienced by children in education and by adults in the labour market.

The study was supervised by Dr Jill Hanass-Hancock and Dr Claire Vermaak.

‘My PhD thesis is deeply personal. I watched my late grandfather become a paraplegic after a surgical mistake and the difficulties he faced in the days following. He had financial reources and family support whereas many people in similar situations do not,’ said McKenzie.

She added that her personal experience with a close friend whose child has Down syndrome and their endless struggles in gaining access to the education system despite South Africa’s policy for inclusive education, also motivated her research.

‘My friend has financial resources and strong social networks and yet the family still has difficulties accessing schooling. It made me increasingly concerned about people who don’t have the means or the knowledge to support themselves or their own children with disabilities.’

McKenzie’s research found that if children with disabilities are given equitable access to education, then as adults their labour market prospects (employment and earnings) are better.

‘Education is therefore a key driver of better socioeconomic outcomes for people with disabilities yet children with disabilities are disproportionately out of school,’ she said. ‘Policymakers should focus their attention on ensuring equitable educational opportunities for people with disabilities.

‘In addition, my study offers a novel contribution to the literature by using a variety of measures of disability to capture the experiences of as many people with disabilities as possible. The results demonstrate that children and adults with severe or multiple disabilities are impacted the most overall.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Love for Maritime Studies the Driving Force for Master’s Graduate

Love for Maritime Studies the Driving Force for Master’s Graduate
Student Support Service Administrative Officer, Ms Nomathemba Makhathini.

College of Law and Management Studies Student Support Service Administrative Officer Ms Nomathemba Makhathini’s love for maritime studies helped her weather all storms and get her master’s degree.

Well informed with an undergraduate qualification in Bachelor of  Commerce in Economics and Supply Chain and an honours degree in supply chain management, Makhathini was aware that commodities arrive from all over the world via shipment but curiosity about the entire process is what motivated her to pursue a master’s degree.

‘In 2016 there was an article on offshores by a UKZN professor and that led to me reading up on processes and regulations entailing shipping and container transportation. I wanted to be involved so I registered for a Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies degree and the rest is history,’ she said

Her research, supervised by Dr Sanele Gumede, was titled: Assessing the Media Performance on Container Terminal Turnaround Time: Lesson for the Port of Durban which assessed how the facility conforms with media perspectives on similar ‘economically-related ports’ as well as leading global ports in terms of productivity.

‘The findings revealed that container terminals are moving towards the use of smart solutions that could help optimise turnaround time, propagate performance, and decrease shipping costs - all without requiring substantial infrastructure and equipment expenditures,’ said Makhathini.

‘It was further determined that performance at a container terminal cannot be judged only on the basis of a single value or measure. The study concluded that there is still a long way to go before South Africa’s largest freight gateway is completely operational on an international turnaround time standard.’

Her academic journey was not without its challenges - she had to suspend her studies for two years due to work pressures. ‘I had to take on extra duties due to a work colleague leaving. That stressed me out but as soon as I adjusted, I continued working on my research and dissertation

‘I am the first child in the family to get a master’s degree so everyone is excited and proud. My mother said her wish now is for me to get a PhD and wear the red gown.’

 Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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UKZN Staffer Follows Example of Colleagues and Completes Master’s Degree

UKZN Staffer Follows Example of Colleagues and Completes Master’s Degree
School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Principal Administrative Officer, Ms Smangele Ninela.

Working in an environment where academic and support staff regularly further their studies spurred UKZN employee Ms Smangele Ninela to do a master’s degree.

It’s now all done and dusted and the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Principal Administrative Officer has qualified for a Master of Commerce in Leadership Studies degree.

‘My colleagues from the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance are continuously engaged in self-development, be it furthering their studies or climbing the academic ladder,’ said Ninela. ‘This culture of “learning” is deeply instilled by the Dean and Head of School Professor Mabutho Sibanda. Hence, a year before I registered for my master’s degree, I got a call from Professor Bomi Nomlala questioning why my name was not on the Graduation programme, suggesting that I should get that right in the near future. So I completed the application form that very day and the rest is history,’ she said.

Her research study titled: The Role of Theory U in Developing Leadership Skills to Navigate Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity in the University of KwaZulu-Natal, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, was supervised by Professor Cecile Gerwel Proches and inspired by the late Professor Kriben Pillay.

The aim of the study was to identify leadership challenges emanating from COVID-19 in the School and to examine how Theory U could be incorporated into the decision-making process in order to assist leaders navigate through these challenges. 

‘Theory U has been globally recognised as an exceptionally embracing, broad-minded school of thought that surpasses the conventional literature on leadership theories,’ said Ninela.

‘Literature proposes that Theory U deals with issues of disruptive change from an individual-oriented approach.  It encourages individuals to suspend their judgments which are informed by encounters and old mind-sets, encouraging them to be open to the newness that is emerging. That personal transition generates correlated and parallel change at the larger organisational or societal level,’ she added.

With this qualification, Ninela has aspirations of growing her career, publishing journal articles and ultimately pursuing a PhD.

‘This qualification is a stepping stone in my career,’ she said. ‘The knowledge and skills acquired helped me to understand the intricacy of leadership, the importance of maintaining stakeholder relationships and the value of pursuing a common goal. They also taught me how to diversify my thinking approach, sharpen my ability to adapt, and prepared me for a management role.

‘I dedicate this achievement to my maternal grandmother who raised me. She unfortunately passed away last year.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Researcher Aims to Contribute to Maritime SMME Knowledge Chest

Researcher Aims to Contribute to Maritime SMME Knowledge Chest
Seasoned entrepreneur, qualified mariner and seafarer, Dr Clive Zulu.

A lack of maritime research focusing on ocean economy Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) motivated seasoned entrepreneur, qualified mariner and seafarer, Dr Clive Zulu to contribute to the field.

‘This area of study has produced only about five PhD graduates in South Africa,’ said Zulu.

Through his doctoral research study titled: An Economic Development Policy Implementation Approach to the Creation of Sustainable Maritime SMMEs in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Zulu - Chief Executive Officer at the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone - decided to explore the implementation of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy (CMTP).

Supervised by Dr Bonginkosi Zondi and Dr Tony Ngwenya, Zulu investigated pioneering the concept of a sector specific special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the development and sustainability of ocean economy SMMEs in KZN.

‘The study offers a paradigm shift in exploring optimal and available sources for developmental approaches and investments for initiatives from both the public and private sectors in the country,’ said Zulu.

‘The SPV model aims to provide new ventures and SMMEs within the ocean economy with various sources of funding and investments. The study developed an SPV model which is significant and applicable to all sectors of the Transport Maritime Sector in South Africa.’

With a career in South Africa’s maritime sector spanning over two decades, Zulu has extensive experience in various executive positions, so his PhD was the next step in his professional development.

Studying at UKZN gave me an opportunity to participate in research and academic workshops, seminars and conferences locally and internationally,’ he said. ‘I gained valuable insights and managed to build connections with other researchers and experts.

‘I plan to ensure that investment and funding initiatives help open up the sector’s career and entrepreneurial opportunities. The maritime transport sector must be regarded as an employer of choice with attractive study, career and entrepreneurial opportunities,’ he added.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Public Governance Expert Graduates Three Master’s Degree Candidates

Public Governance Expert Graduates Three Master’s Degree Candidates
Celebrating academic excellence are (from left): Ms Lindiwe Bhengu, Professor Mogie Subban, and Ms Khayakazi Mhatu. Insert: Mr Nelisile Xolo.

Public Governance expert Professor Mogie Subban has successfully supervised and graduated three Master of Public Administration (MPA) candidates - Ms Lindiwe Bhengu, Ms Khayakazi Mhatu, and Mr Nelisile Xolo.

Bhengu is the Assistant Director: Marketing and Communication at the Thekwini Technical Vocational Education and Training College. The title of her dissertation was: Policy Perspectives of the Marketing and Communication Policy of Thekwini Technical and Vocational Education and Training College.

The study has given Bhengu new confidence in executing marketing and communication activities starting with the development of policies, strategy, operational plans and its implementation.

Said Bhengu: ‘The study will assist in developing a policy that the College will be able to implement successfully and also help align its policy with the National Department of Higher Education and Training policies and other relevant government communication policies.’

She found group studies and sharing work experiences with classmates enriching. ‘Support from classmates and my supervisor played a major role in my success during difficult COVID times. Professor Subban held my hand throughout this journey,’ said Bhengu, who did not let suffering with the COVID-19 virus deter her from completing her studies.

Said Subban: ‘Her unwavering commitment shone through, as she was determined to not give up. We have walked the road together towards her academic success today. Congratulations Lindiwe, I am so proud of your dedication towards your studies and to have witnessed you receiving your well-deserved reward.’

Sport and Recreation Officer at the Harry Gwala District Municipality, Khayakazi Mhatu’s dissertation was titled: An Exploration of Strategic Leadership and Resource Allocation for Effective Municipal Performance: The Case of Harry Gwala District Municipality.

Pleased with her academic achievement, Mhatu said: ‘I have learnt about many leadership and management skills required for effective service delivery in the public sector. I have a detailed critical understanding of public policies and their impact on service delivery, and on the livelihoods of local communities through the importance of epistemology and research.’

Subban is extremely proud of Mhatu who completed her dissertation despite experiencing several challenges and having fallen ill while doing her research. Given that resources are not always adequate in the face of competing priorities, Mhatu’s research emphasises, amongst others, that legislation guides municipal leadership on how financial resources should be allocated and utilised.

Mr Nelisile Xolo, Senior Manager responsible for Corporate Services at Mt Ayliff in the Eastern Cape, assessed the digital divide and adoption of e-participation at the Matatiele Local Municipality.

Xolo juggled studies and a demanding job where he is responsible for the development and implementation of Institutional Transformation and Development policies and procedures used to guide the recruitment of personnel, training and development, payroll management, provision of ICT and Auxiliary services. Proud of his achievement, he said: ‘The research enhanced my leadership skills to influence policy development processes, and to contribute to the extent of effectiveness and efficiency in the public service as a dedicated public official.’

Armed with the MPA, Xolo is looking forward to influencing transformation in local government and the broader public service in a democratic South Africa. He has started the conversations with his supervisor for further studies towards a PhD in the new year.

Subban, who commended Xolo for his excellent work ethic, said she was extremely proud of his diligence for having completed his dissertation within the requisite one-year timeline - ‘It was a pleasure supervising his work!’ 

Subban, who lectures at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the Discipline of Public Governance at UKZN, and serves as Academic Programme Co-ordinator in the College of Law and Management Studies, has vast experience in academia, and the public and corporate sectors.

As the current Chairperson of the Association of Southern African Schools and Departments of Public Administration and Management, she is preparing to host the annual conference of the Association from 23 - 25 November at the Riverside Hotel, in Durban under the theme: Disruptive Learning and the Future of Public Administration Education and Research.

The trio is grateful to Subban for meticulously guiding them through their academic journey. Subban says she looks forward to future research collaborations with her students as she encouraged them to contribute the knowledge gained in their studies to their current careers in the public service.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photographs: Abhi Indrarajan


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Research by UKZN Law Graduates Contributing Useful Knowledge for Businesses

Research by UKZN Law Graduates Contributing Useful Knowledge for Businesses
Master of Laws in Labour Studies graduate, Ms Nqobile Nkosi with PhD in Law graduate, Dr Simphiwe Phungula and Master of Laws in Business Law graduate, Ms Lusanda Mthembu.

With many South African businesses considering or undergoing business rescue due to tough economic times - especially during and in the wake of COVID-19 - UKZN’s Law graduates are playing a role to assist those in need by contributing knowledge for business rescue statutory regimes and labour relations processes.

An example is Dr Simphiwe Phungula’s PhD research study supervised by Professor Robert Williams titled: The Evolution of an Effective Business Rescue Statutory Regime in South Africa 1926 - 2021.

It is a critical study of the evolution of the statutory regime for so-called “business rescue” in South Africa, approached from the angle of historical influences, judicial contributions and legislative developments in South Africa from the Companies Act of 1926 to the present day.

‘The thesis discusses whether the current business rescue provisions of the Companies Act 71 of 2008 are achieving their policy and commercial objectives while identifying issues of current concern. It also pinpoints residual weaknesses in the legislation and unresolved issues in case law, making recommendations about how to address deficiencies and uncertainties,’ said Phungula.

Having started his academic career at UKZN’s School of Law which inspired his PhD journey, Phungula aims to use this qualification as a stepping stone towards a professorship.

‘This PhD is going to help me reach that goal,’ he said. ‘It has already started to enhance my career because I am now a senior lecturer at the School of Law’s Department of Commercial Law at the University of Cape Town (UCT). I have also published articles based on my PhD research and believe that getting the qualification as a Black man will improve my intellectual status given the fact there are so few Black doctoral graduates in South Africa.’

Another example of knowledge contribution is research by Master of Laws in Labour Studies graduates Ms Nqobile Nkosi and Master of Laws in Business Law Ms Lusanda Mthembu - both supervised by Dr Darren Subramanien.

Nkosi investigated procedural fairness in large-scale retrenchments during business rescue proceedings while Mthembu delved into a South African perspective of business rescue abuse.

Nkosi’s research questioned whether business rescue practitioners should first publish the rescue plan before issuing the S189 (3) notice of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995.

‘I actually thought of my topic before I applied to do a master’s degree. I was listening to the news on the radio when a discussion came on about SAA’s business rescue proceedings and retrenchment issues. The debate piqued my interest and I decided to explore the rights and obligations of employers and employees resulting from pieces of legislation that govern these processes,’ said Nkosi.

She added that COVID-19 had impacted many South African businesses adversely leading to some plummeting into business rescue proceedings and retrenchments. Hence, as an Industrial Relations specialist for a manufacturing company, expanding literature to existing knowledge is important for her. ‘The research will help business rescue practitioners understand what is expected of them should they want to retrench as part of the business rescue process,’ said Nkosi. ‘Having a good understanding of labour law is important in my role - the master’s has made me more knowledgeable, enabling me to achieve career growth within the labour law field.’

Mthembu’s research was titled: A South African Perspective of Business Rescue Abuse: Protecting the Sanctity of the Business Rescue Process Without Losing Sight of its Purpose.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph:  Abhi Indrarajan


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Umdoni Municipality HR Manager Earns Doctoral Degree

Umdoni Municipality HR Manager Earns Doctoral Degree
Dr Bongiwe Mbatha celebrating her epic achievement with her sister, Ms Nokuthula Bavu (left) and her aunt, Mrs Sibongile Maphumulo.

‘I’m overwhelmed - I still cannot believe I made it. It was through the grace of God as it is only Him who makes things possible.’

So said Dr Bongiwe Mbatha - Human Resources (HR) Manager at the Umdoni Local Municipality in the Ugu Municipal District south of Durban - who was awarded a Doctor of Business Administration degree during UKZN’s Spring Graduation ceremonies.

Mbatha’s thesis was titled: The Role of Stakeholders Regarding Policy-Making in the Localised Sphere of Government in KwaZulu-Natal.

She was supervised by public governance expert Professor Thokozani Nzimakwe of the School of Management, IT and Governance, and a leadership and management expert from the Graduate School of Business and Leadership, Professor Emmanuel Mutambara.

Mbatha’s study, which examined the role of stakeholders regarding policymaking in the localised sphere of government in KwaZulu-Natal, found there was significant policy formulation influence on socio-economic development and that policymaking activities had an impact on service delivery.

The findings also revealed that policymaking activities in South African municipalities were hampered by several factors, including finance, stakeholders’ roles regarding policies, criticism from the opposition, lack of understanding of the policies, non-alignment of policies with the national legislation, lack of resources and political interference.

The study recommends adequate budgetary allocations; stakeholder participation; a strong political will; and alignment of policies with the national legislation.

With vast experience as a generalist in HR, Mbatha holds a National Diploma in HR, a Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety, a Bachelor of Technology in HR degree, an honours degree in Labour Relations as well a master’s degree in HR. Since joining the municipality in 2014 after 10 years’ service in the Department of Labour, she has managed to improve the working conditions of employees, and improved communication between the management, stakeholders and employees.

Mbatha has implemented policies and procedures in the Municipality and other critical aspects of HR, including wellness programmes, health and safety and organisational development.

Mbatha is confident her study will contribute towards the drafting of policies and aligning them with legislation and the Constitution of the country. She has started sharing her findings with local municipalities through holding workshops aimed at assisting officials with the drafting of policies.

Said Mbatha, who completed her doctoral studies during the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘This was not an easy journey - while I had the support of my supervisors I found myself spending a lot of time on my own, sometimes neglecting family.’

She advises executives thinking about starting the PhD journey to stay motivated and to focus on their long-term goal - this is what kept her on the right path!

Her future plans include advising young people on how to conduct research and assisting academics with supervision and guest lecturing.

Referring to her supervisors she said: ‘They were superb, I was very lucky to have them. Both are highly experienced - if I continue with research I will definitely collaborate with them.’

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Economics Lecturer Graduates with PhD

Economics Lecturer Graduates with PhD
UKZN academic, Dr Malibongwe Nyathi.

The difficulties Dr Malibongwe Nyathi experienced trying to get a supervisor for his master’s degree motivated him to pursue doctoral studies to launch his career as an economics lecturer…and possibly a student supervisor!

‘When I registered for my masters, I struggled to get a supervisor because students coming from a business science background are not perceived to be able to do research as they work mainly with numbers. I wanted to debunk that notion,’ said Nyathi.

His PhD study titled: Towards Coordination of Macroprudential and Monetary Policies in South Africa, explored the interactions and possibility of Macroprudential and Monetary Policy co-ordination in South Africa. The findings of the study, supervised by Dr Christian Tipoy and Professor Paul-Francois Muzindutsi, contribute to macroeconomic policy co-ordination in South Africa and address current concerns with regards to macro-financial linkages.

‘The study proposed a modified version of the South African financial cycle, which could be used as a supervisory and a monitoring tool for financial stability,’ said Nyathi. ‘The study further proposed a new method of studying macro-financial linkages in South Africa. To challenge a presiding policy that has been there for years is one of the hardest things to do. Hence, I came across several challenges trying to convince people of my way of thinking, which they seem not to appreciate. Conducting this study took effort, persistence, strength and undying hope to stay on track and to remain focused,’ he said.

As an executive member of UKZN’s Macroeconomics Research Unit (MRU), Nyathi has published several working papers on financial stability issues, monetary economics theory and practice and international trade theory. As well as contributing to the Unit’s collaboration with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry and eThekwini Municipality for development of the Durban Business Confidence Index. Nyathi was also part of a research group trying to develop a framework that will enable the quantification of the economic impact of coastal and marine tourism in South Africa.

‘Having a PhD opens doors you couldn’t with any other qualification,’ he said.

‘It trains you to be an independent researcher and to master your area of specialisation. Most importantly it gives you the confidence to be able to share experiences and knowledge about your specific area of research, which is beneficial to other people who might have the same interests. You gain popularity and collaboration opportunities and work with the best in the field. It actually grows you in every aspect of life.’

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Young Academic Supervises Five Master’s Students and a Doctoral Candidate

Young Academic Supervises Five Master’s Students and a Doctoral Candidate
From left: Ms Helvy Ndlovu, Mr Sandile Khomo, Professor Pfano Mashau, Ms Salisha Govender, Ms Khuthala Kakaza and Dr Sepele Matlala.

School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic Professor Pfano Mashau (32) celebrated supervising five master’s students and a PhD candidate to great academic success which was rewarded at UKZN’s 2022 Spring Graduation ceremony.

The PhD in Leadership Studies graduate is Dr Sepele Matlala, while the master’s graduates are Business Administration’s Ms Helvy Ndlovu and Ms Salisha Govender, and Commerce in Leadership Studies’ Ms Khuthala Kakaza, Mr Sandile Khomo and Ms Boniwe Zungu.

‘I have supervised a few dissertations to date but what makes this group important is that they were all researching problems they have observed at their workplace,’ said Mashau. ‘I am glad to have been part of their research. As a young academic, it was an excellent opportunity to get a deep understanding of organisational issues and be part of the process of finding solutions.’

Matlala’s research, titled: Developing an Investor Aftercare Model for Promotion of the Agro-Processing Sector: The Case of Limpopo Province, led to the launch of Viwe Development Council, a socio-economic development agency to look after the interests of investors with the ultimate aim of addressing the high rate of unemployment in South Africa and beyond.

The agency was created out of the recommendations of his thesis for the institutional review of investor aftercare, and the implementation of an experiential investor aftercare model developed from the study for promoting the province’s agro-processing sector. 

With 13 years’ experience in the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), Ndlovu understands the importance of continued re-skilling and up-skilling. Hence, her thesis was titled:  Exploring the Role of Learnership Programmes in Reducing Unemployment: A Case Study of Ubucubu Home Industries.

‘I decided to conduct my study on one of the learning programmes,’ said Ndlovu. ‘I am hoping my former employer will consider implementing the recommendation because I have now discovered that they actually make a huge difference for learners and the quality of the training they receive. My new employer ensures me that the theory is balanced with work placement. This qualification has expanded my level of thinking and helped me develop management and leadership skills at a different level. I’ve become more innovative and strategic in my work.’

For Govender the diversification of her role as a Brewery Microbiologist and Food Safety Specialist at Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) required expertise other than her technical capabilities. This led to her pursuing an MBA through research titled: The Impact of Flexible Work Hours on Employee Performance: A Case Study of AB InBev.

‘The demographics of the workforce are constantly changing, especially where maintaining a healthy work-life balance is concerned,’ said Govender. ‘Improving and sustaining employee performance has become a growing concern and a challenge for organisations across the world. Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) organisations, which operate around the clock, see low points of employee performance, job satisfaction, plus high levels of absenteeism,’ she said.

Among the primary objectives of the research was determining the influence of flexible work hours on employee performance at AB InBev, whilst understanding the factors that impact this relationship.

‘The research was the first of its kind to be undertaken in AB InBev, with a specific focus on management level performance. The outcome of the research was positively received, especially when working from home became the “new normal” during the global pandemic. These insights provided the organisation with useful information to create effective solutions to enhance the performance of employees at AB InBev,’ said Govender.

Having been in her current leadership position at the Road Accident Fund for four years and more than 15 years in leadership, Kakaza wanted to gain a better understanding of people’s views/opinions about their employers which she achieved through her research titled: The Contribution of Job Satisfaction to Employee Commitment and Retention at the Road Accident Fund, KwaZulu-Natal.

‘This was my first full research study, focused on establishing the core aspects contributing to the commitment of employees to their employers, which positively influence employee retention. The findings were an eye-opener that employees are not just working for money but have other positive/good intentions for being employees in an organisation. This qualification has motivated me to study further towards a PhD and other post-doctoral degrees,’ said Kakaza.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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Doctoral Study Explores Challenges Faced by Women in the Petroleum Sector

Doctoral Study Explores Challenges Faced by Women in the Petroleum Sector
Dynamic Durban businesswoman, Dr Thandi Ngxongo appreciating a special moment with her husband, Mr Menzisi Ngxongo.

Frustrated by gender-based inequalities and injustices in the South African petroleum sector, dynamic Durban businesswoman Dr Thandi Ngxongo delved into the ‘skewed situation’ doing research which secured her a Doctor of Business Administration degree from UKZN.

Women at the Top: Unlocking the Full Potential of Women in Leadership in the Petroleum Industry, was the title of her dissertation which was supervised by Professor Emmanuel Mutambara of the Graduate School of Business and Leadership.

Ngxongo’s doctoral thesis evolved from her Master of Business Administration dissertation which earned her cum laude success in 2018.

Her PhD study investigated the challenges faced by women in their endeavours to progress to managerial and leadership positions in the petroleum industry in South Africa. ‘I wanted to get lived experiences of women in leadership positions, understand the challenges they go through, and identify factors that affect their progress in the industry,’ she said. ‘I was also keen to correlate personal attributes, skills and experiences of women in relation to personal attributes, skills, and experiences in executive positions, and come up with a model of how women can unleash their full potential in leadership positions.’

The study compared women as mothers with those as leaders in executive managerial positions, and from findings found motherhood could be a wonderful training ground for the development of abilities that would be useful in their careers while they climb the corporate ladder. These include traits such as being supportive, transparency, participatory, multitasking, trustworthiness, fairness and being pacesetters. Indications from the research are that it is not necessary for women to develop a different set of traits but rather they can leverage from the traits of mothers in society. Mentoring and coaching were identified as key aspects in accelerating the full potential of women in leadership.

A work-family interface model to assist women unleash their full potential was created from the study.

Ngxongo was an ideal candidate to explore the topic having begun her working life as chemical engineer, later venturing into the restaurant industry. A church leader and philanthropist, she is now the proud owner of the BP Moore Road fuel station in Glenwood, Durban, while raising a family with her supportive husband, Mr Menzisi Ngxongo.

‘It is a reality that women representation in key leadership positions is still very low in the petroleum industry. The inspiration to explore the issue is really based on first-hand experience being a person who climbed the corporate ladder wearing many hats – as a woman, a wife, a mother, a leader in society and a businesswoman.’

In between her busy schedule, Ngxongo is the founder of uThandekile Foundation - an organisation she uses for community development projects aimed at uplifting and empowering women and the youth in South Africa.

Her life moto to never stop learning has seen her enrolling for an international business leadership programme. ‘I believe in empowering myself and contributing to the body of knowledge. If I am to remain relevant as a businesswoman I need to keep learning every day,’ she said.

On her academic achievement, Ngxongo said: ‘I have this overwhelming deep gratitude and a sense of accomplishment. I embarked on this journey for self-fulfillment and to contribute to a body of knowledge.’

Ngxongo acknowledged the critical role played by her supervisor Professor Mutambara: ‘The guidance and inspiration I got from him enabled me to complete my studies within the prescribed duration. His immense support in shaping this project helped me to build self-belief that it was possible to stay focused and complete this project despite the many challenges in our country and a project of this magnitude.’

Congratulating Ngxongo, Mutambara said: ‘You worked so hard from the onset to achieve this milestone - I can't think of anyone who deserves it more. Mentoring you on this academic journey was interesting, and a lot easier because of your commitment. You set an amazing example for others, and in particular all women in business.’

Indebted to her supportive family she said: ‘My husband was my pillar of strength as I went through various emotions - he was my sounding board.’

She also recalled how her mother cried tears of joy after hearing the good news and also how her son, Siyaphila, told her he was inspired by her academic success.

Her plans include using her new qualification to make an impact through her uThandekile Foundation and assisting academia through guest lectureship and providing mentorship and coaching to postgraduate students.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Asante Solutions


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eThekwini Municipality’s Chief Financial Officer Awarded Doctoral Degree

eThekwini Municipality’s Chief Financial Officer Awarded Doctoral Degree
CFO of eThekwini Municipality, Dr Sandile Mnguni with his supervisor, Professor Mogie Subban.

Chief Financial Officer of eThekwini Municipality Dr Sandile Mnguni has been awarded a Doctor of Administration degree with a thesis titled: An Analysis of Best Practices for Achieving and Sustaining Clean Audit Outcomes in Selected SA Metropolitan Municipalities.

Mnguni was supervised by public governance expert Professor Mogie Subban, who is a member of the public sector committee of the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).

Mnguni’s study was completed against the background of the release of the Auditor-General’s 2020/2021 municipal audit outcomes report which revealed that only 41 municipalities out of 257 in South Africa had achieved clean audits.

The study found that having key policies in place is insufficient in itself because what is critical and non-negotiable are vigorous implementation and oversight measures through effective governance structures.

Mnguni advocates the promotion of good governance and strict enforcement of consequence management processes where breaches are noted are key in instilling a strong culture of accountability.

His responsibilities as the CFO include providing strategic guidance to the eThekwini Municipality in the area of financial planning and budgeting as well as strategic financial management through implementation of financial strategies that respond to service delivery plans while promoting a culture of good governance. His doctoral research will thus significantly contribute to his work as the best practices identified would enhance how he and his team handle day-to-day activities.

Mnguni, a qualified Chartered Accountant, decided to pursue a PhD in Public Administration to enhance his research skills and understanding of public sector dynamics while contributing with possible solutions to meeting challenges facing local government in particular and the developmental state in general. ‘I had a lot of opportunities after qualifying as a CA, however, now is the time for me to give back through sharing my learned and lived professional experiences, including scientific and research knowledge gained specifically during my PhD journey,’ he said.

Despite difficulties brought on by COVID-19, ongoing unrest and the devastation of the recent floods, he is grateful he was able to forge ahead with his studies.

He says striking a healthy balance between work and study was a big challenge as the study required many intense hours, but he is grateful to his supervisor and employer for their support. ‘Professor Subban steadfastly guided me throughout which made the study journey all the more worthwhile. In addition, my employer was also very supportive in terms of study leave during specific on-demand timelines.

‘I could not have asked for a more dedicated and learned yet humble supervisor - the University is fortunate to have such loyal staff of her calibre,’ he added.

Subban expressed her immense joy at the Graduation as she is extremely proud of Mnguni for having taken the academic plunge despite his onerous work as a senior official. ‘His work makes a worthy contribution to address many of the pathologies faced in local financial governance relating to audit outcomes. He has already published two articles in the Department of Higher Education and Training accredited journals, and we are engaged in further research into this very significant area of local government in the country,’ said Subban.

Having qualified as a Chartered Accountant through UKZN, Mnguni felt it was right to end his academic studies at his alma mater. ‘I’m pleased and proud I chose UKZN to achieve my doctoral qualification as the University really does inspire greatness! I also fully support the University’s REACHT (Respect, Excellence, Accountability, Client Orientation, Honesty and Trust) principles.’

Conscious of governance and service delivery challenges facing the public sector, Mnguni is ready to contribute to addressing these through evidence-based research and analytical approaches as well as contributing to educational or capacity building programmes for eThekwini.

Mnguni says his family is overjoyed about his academic success and his children have been inspired to follow in his footsteps.

An avid sportsman, he looks forward to getting back to playing tennis and indoor soccer for relaxation after a hard day at work.

Words: Hazel Langa

Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan


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