19 April 2024 | Story Anthony Mthembu | Photo Stephen Collet
CDS Graduates 2024
The six graduates who attained their PhD in Development Studies from the Centre for Development Support at the University of the Free State (UFS). Back Row, from left to right: Dr Elelwani Mmbadi, Dr Margaret Kusambiza-Kiingi and Dr Mavis Mushonga. Front Row: Dr Chimwemwe Phiri, Dr Moffat Machiwenyika, and Dr Eziwe Mutsikiwa.

As the University of the Free State (UFS) celebrates its graduates, the Centre for Development Support (CDS) within the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) proudly acknowledges six individuals who have attained their PhDs in Development Studies. These accomplished graduates will grace the graduation stage on 19 April 2024 at the Callie Human on the UFS Bloemfontein campus.

Prof Lochner Marais, representing the CDS, sees this milestone as a significant stride towards the Centre’s vision of becoming a premier hub for research, training and knowledge dissemination, underlining their commitment to critical and engaged scholarship.

The graduating class

Among the distinguished cohort are Dr Elelwani Mmbadi, currently serving as a Research Analyst in the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), and Dr Chimwemwe Phiri, a Postdoctoral Fellow at UFS. Dr Mmbadi reflects on the broader impact of his achievement, stating, ‘’This is for that boy or girl in a rural setting dreaming about that soft life. Today, I stand before you from that same place, showing you that with dedication and perseverance everything under the sun is possible.” Dr Phiri echoes this sentiment, acknowledging, ‘’ As I prepare to walk across the stage on 19 April 2024, I am keenly aware that this achievement is not mine alone, but the culmination of the collective support and encouragement from my loved ones, mentors, and peers.”

The other graduates from the CDS are Drs Moffat Machiwenyika, Eziwe Mutsikiwa, Margaret Kusambiza and Mavis Mushonga.

Support from the CDS

Both Dr Mmbadi and Dr Phiri recognise the challenges inherent in their PhD journeys and attribute a portion of their success to the support provided by the CDS. Dr Mmbadi extends gratitude to Prof Lochner Marais, affirming, ‘’I would like to give special thanks to Prof Lochner Marais for his continued support and guidance through this PhD process. It is fair to say that without him, this milestone wouldn’t have been realised.”

Dr Mmbadi’s doctoral thesis, titled “The Contribution of Informal Settlements Upgrading to Economic Inclusion of the Poor,” delves into the impact of upgrading initiatives on asset-building, the economic inclusion of the poor, and poverty alleviation. Meanwhile, Dr Phiri’s PhD thesis focuses on “University Community Partnerships for Climate Change Adaptation in Malawi.”

Future endeavours

Looking ahead, both scholars are already contemplating their next endeavours. Dr Phiri expresses his desire to further explore creative research avenues and secure a book contract, remarking, ‘’I thrive on the opportunity to make meaningful contributions and create impactful research solutions, and I look forward to bringing that passion to everything I do moving forward.’’

As the CDS gears to celebrate these graduates, Prof Marais hopes that they will leverage their education to actively engage in their communities and workplaces, fostering positive change. ‘’I wish them all the ability to be open-minded, flexible, critically evaluate their environments and make positive contributions to their working environment and societies,” he shares. 

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