Change the world


Struggle veteran and strategist, Joel Netshitenzhe, will be lauded with an honorary doctorate during Nelson Mandela University’s summer graduation next week for, among others, his contribution to the abolishment of apartheid and the subsequent nation-building project of South Africa.

Netshitenzhe, who is currently Vice-Chairperson and Executive Director of the transdisciplinary research institute Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflections (MISTRA), will be among 171 graduands – 128 masters and 43 doctorates – being capped on 14 and 15 December 2021.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 regulations, the University took a decision to hold small in-person graduation ceremonies for postgraduate students – masters and doctorates – to ensure careful management and adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols.

With two guests permitted per graduand, others wishing to be part of the celebrations can tune in via livestream on the University’s YouTube channel. Ceremonies go live at 10:00 on those days.

Born in Sibasa, Limpopo, his formal qualifications include a Diploma in Political Science from the Institute of Social Sciences, Moscow (1984), a Postgraduate Diploma in Economics Principles from the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS (1996) and a Master of Science degree in Financial Economics from the same university (1999).

Netshitenzhe, who will accept his honorary doctorate via video link, was part of the efforts to dislodge the apartheid system in our country, including as a member of the African National Congress (ANC) in exile, and was involved in the negotiation processes that led to the democratic elections in 1994.

Through his contributions to the processes that led to the transfer of power from the National Party government to the democratically elected ANC government, he was recruited to serve in President Nelson Mandela’s office as part of a new cohort of civil servants. Thereafter, he occupied various senior management government positions with his last assignment heading the ground breaking Policy Co-ordination and Advisory Services (PCAS).

His contribution to the struggle for democracy in South Africa and his subsequent career in government includes serving as Head of Communication in the Presidency of Nelson Mandela in 1994, Chief Executive Officer of Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) from 1998 to 2006, Head of Policy Co-ordination and Advisory Services (PCAS) from 2001 to 2009 and Member of the National Planning Commission from 2010 to 2015.

In his work, he has guided policy development and the transformation of South Africa along the road to becoming a truly non-racial, non-sexist, unitary, democratic and prosperous society.

The postgraduate students being capped next week include #FeesMustFall activist and former Mandela University SRC president, Pedro Mzileni, who will be getting his PhD in sociology, under the supervision of Professors Shirley-Ann Tait and Nomalanga Mkhize. His thesis looked into post-apartheid geographies of studentification at Nelson Mandela University.

The graduands have done some very interesting research into a number of topics impacting our society today. These include guidelines for the detection of text-based fake news, the views of amakrwala on the meaning of umqombothi and commercial alcohol use during the initiation ceremonies, the extraction of gold nanoparticles for the treatment of colon cancer, student entrepreneurship support at South African universities and a framework for transmitting and entrenching values in indigenous Black South African family businesses.

For his Master’s in Information Technology – which he obtained Cum Laude – Cape Town-based software engineer, Okuhle Ngada, addressed the problem of online misinformation, commonly referred to as ‘fake news’ by using technological approaches, such as machine learning and deep learning technology.

Master of Social Work graduand, Mzoli Mavimbela looked into the significant but different roles that commercial alcohol and umqombothi play during the amaXhosa initiation ceremonies, which many households are presently preparing for.

In his Business Management doctoral thesis, Welcome Kupangwa posits that business values in indigenous black South African family businesses are influenced and shaped by their African culture, and the philosophy of Ubuntu, and parents are the most influential familial socialisation agents.

Mandela University congratulates all its graduates, who have shown a great deal of resilience in their academic pursuits, particularly in the last two years.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777