News from the Nelson Mandela School

30 Mar 2022
30 Mar 2022

The Nelson Mandela School is pleased to share the first quarter newsletter with you, a place where we share the School’s heartbeat and invite you to journey with us. We have been hard at work in the last twenty-four months refining the School’s five-year strategic framework.

The strategic framework of the School is informed by the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which commits to building an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa driven by its citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena. The Nelson Mandela School is committed to deepening its work as an African centre of excellence and an academy of public governance, policy and programme implementation. To this end, the School launched a research programme on each of its thematic pillars, led by Research Chairs and supported by the Building Bridges programme.  The five thematic pillars of the School are:
•    Democratic Governance
•    The AfCFTA and Developmental Regionalism
•    Climate Change and Sustainable Development
•    Public Policy Implementation
•    Social Inclusion: vaccines and public health

As the School grows, we are grateful to our network of partners who participate in multiple strategic collaborations that contribute to our thematic research pillars.

In this newsletter, we introduce Dr Noncedo Vutula (Chief Research Officer), Dr Mandira Bagwandeen (Senior Researcher), Kirti Naisai (Principal Researcher) and George Awuah (Researcher), who advance the School’s research work.

In other news, the School is part of the newly formed African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Trade and Industrial Development Advisory Council. The Council will advise the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, H.E Wamkele Mene, on matters related to trade and industrial development and the implementation of the AfCFTA.

We are excited about the future of the School. Thank you for being part of our story. Thank you for being part of the legacy to support Africa’s rising generation.

Yours sincerely,
Professor Faizel Ismail
School Director 

H.E. Wamkele Mene, AfCFTA secretary-general, with some staff members and members of the newly inaugurated AfCFTA Trade and Industrial Development Advisory Council. Photo credit: AfCFTA Secretariat

Teaching and learning in 2022

At the start of the 2022 academic year, the School’s teaching and learning commenced with in-person lectures after the pandemic. The School has five cohorts of students currently pursuing either a part-time Master in Development Policy and Practice or a Master in Philosophy.  The cohorts that are running concurrently are: 2020 MDPP part-time students who are completing their research; 2021 Semester 3 MDPP group; 2022 Semester 1 cohort; 2nd year MPhil students that are completing their mini dissertations; and 2022 1st year cohort. The Academic Programme activities are going ahead at full steam and the team is on the ground to offer support to all students. 

Left photo: First-year cohort pictured with the Nelson Mandela School team. Right photo: Some of the Academic Programme team members with second-year MPhil students. Photographer: Andrew Brown


Earlier this year, the Academic Programme was privileged to be included in the Leadership Magazine: Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Special Tribute edition. The School honours the legacy of Archbishop Desmond Tutu who shone a light on the values of ethical leadership, social justice and reconciliation during the darkest days of Apartheid.


 The School welcomes new Faculty members

A warm welcome from all of us, and we look forward to building the School’s legacy together.

Dr Noncedo Vutula is a Chief Research Officer at the Nelson Mandela School. She has worked as a Chief Director for Economic Development Trade and Marketing at the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.  Dr Vutula has a Doctorate in Philosophy from the University of South Africa, an MPhil in Science and Technology Studies and Honours degree in Business Administration from the University of Stellenbosch Business School. 

Dr Mandira Bagwandeen has experience working with think tanks, local and international corporate companies, and lecturing at universities in South Africa. She is a Senior Researcher at the School, where she focuses on Africa's regional integration and industrialisation and Africa-China relations. She also lectures international relations courses at UCT's Political Studies Department. 

Kirti Narsai is a Principal Researcher at the School leading research on pharmaceutical value chains in the context of the AfCFTA. Previously she served as senior director, Government Affairs & Policy, SSA at J&J.

The School successfully delivered a leadership programme for women councillors and officials in local government

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng congratulated the Local Government Women’s Leadership Development Programme's inaugural cohort at the recent graduation ceremony. The much-anticipated celebration was attended by course participants and their families, to acknowledge and celebrate women leaders working in the local government sphere. 

The Nelson Mandela School partnered with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Zenande Leadership Consulting to implement a comprehensive women’s leadership development programme targeting women in middle and senior management across the local government sector in South Africa.

The proposed Nelson Mandela Memorial Centre honours the legacy of Nelson Mandela

UCT’s Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance is privileged to be part of a project that honours the legacy of uTata Nelson Mandela. The proposed Memorial Centre aims to pay tribute to the values which Nelson Mandela upheld. UCT’s commitment to reflect and instil these values to empower a strong, committed core of African leaders, anchors the Memorial Centre.

Advanced progress has been made towards making the Memorial Centre a reality. The Nelson Mandela School has embarked on an ambitious fundraising drive to build a new home for the School, with proposed teaching, research, and academic facilities and a modest conference venue to be housed in an iconic living memorial to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Conceptual urban design plans, location, and feasibility studies are nearing completion, while engagements with proposed project partners the Nelson Mandela Foundation and SANParks are at an advanced stage.

The School invites friends, donors, and alumni to be part of the legacy and help us realise  this living institution that will contribute to Africa’s rising generation. To learn more about the project, contact Mr Haiko Alfeld, Building Legacy Project Manager:

The AfCFTA and Transformative Industrialisation Roundtable series

The School launched a Roundtable series in 2022 as part of the ongoing support for the implementation of the AfCFTA.  The AfCFTA and Transformative Industrialisation Roundtable series brings together policymakers, researchers, and experts from around Africa. In April, the School and its strategic partners will host a second roundtable discussion on active ingredient manufacturing for vaccines.

The upcoming roundtable will focus on the manufacturing processes of the drug substance, shed light on the vaccine manufacturing plans for Morocco and Senegal and explore potential localisation opportunities for both manufacturing and non-manufacturing countries in Africa to contribute towards the development of regional value chains through the provision of production and/or service inputs. We invite you to be part of this ongoing discussion towards structural transformation. 

Date: Wednesday, 13 April 2022
Time: 13:00 – 16:05 (SAST / CET)
Register here to attend. 

Recently published research papers

Media coverage

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