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06 March 2020 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Stephen Collett
Lesetja Kganyago, Governor of the South African Reserve Bank
Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, presented a public lecture at the UFS on 4 March 2020.

With a 7% fiscal deficit on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) projected by the National Treasury for the 2020/21 financial year, it would not take long to arrive at a dangerous level of debt at the rate that South Africa is borrowing. Although the South African Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, does not consider a debt to GDP rate of 60% a disaster, he did express his concern regarding the country’s fiscal deficits being over 6% of the GDP.

Governor Kganyago presented a public lecture at the University of the Free State (UFS) on 4 March 2020, focusing on how we should use macro-economic policy and its role in our economic growth problem.

Unsustainable policies 
South Africa’s fiscal situation is not about tight monetary policy. According to the Governor: “Weak growth is endogenous in our fiscal problems. We cannot keep doing what we are doing and hope that growth will recover and save us. Growth is low, in large part, because of unsustainable policy.”

Avoiding an impending crisis
To address the problem, as a policymaker with more than 20 years’ experience, the Governor suggested that the recommendations made by Minister Tito Mboweni be taken into consideration. “The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, is a man who says things that are true even when they are unpopular. His message is that we have to reduce spending and he is right to put this at the centre of our macro-economic debate,” said Governor Kganyago.

The state needs a radical economic turnaround strategy which is able to diminish the risk of losing market access and being forced to ask the International Monetary Fund for help. Governor Kganyago is positive that such a reformative tactic would go beyond monetary policy and ensure that the interest bill ceases to claim more of South Africa’s scarce resources. 

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nGAP lecturers welcomed by the UFS academic community
2016-06-30

Description: nGAP lecturers group photo Tags: nGAP lecturers group photo

University of the Free State’s newly-appointed nGAP
lecturers. From the left, Neo Mathinya,
Phumudzo Tharaga, and Kelebogile Boleu.

The University of the Free State (UFS) was allocated six positions as part of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP). Four candidates have filled positions in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of the Humanities and the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences – with two positions still vacant.

According to Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, nGAP is part of the Staffing South Africa's Universities Framework, which focuses on the expansion of the size and compilation of academic staff at South African universities, especially with regard to transformation. The focus of the programme is the appointment of black and coloured candidates as well as women.

The Department of Soil, Crop, and Climate Sciences in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences welcomed two nGAP lecturers, Phumudzo Tharaga and Neo Mathinya. The Faculty was allocated four positions. Two positions are filled, while two positions in the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences are almost ready to be filled with exceptional candidates.

Agrometeorologist with his feet on the ground
Phumudzo Tharaga holds an MSc from the UFS, and is currently pursuing a PhD. Tharaga’s research focuses on quantifying the water use efficiency of sweet cherry orchards under different climate conditions in the Eastern Free State. Tharaga will offer his students a wealth of practical experience, which he began accumulating while working at ABSA as an agro-meteorologist, before moving on to become a senior scientist at the South African Weather Service. In 2015, Tharaga became a research technologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and then returned to the UFS as an nGAP candidate at the beginning of 2016.  

Description: Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer  Tags: Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer

Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer
at the Faculty of Heath Sciences
Department of Basic medicine

Motivated scholar turned academic
Neo Mathinya, who hails from Taung in the North West, has made the UFS her home. She received both her undergraduate and honours degrees from the university. Apart from joining the department as a lecturer under the nGAP initiative, she is currently studying for her MSc in Soil Physics. She will continue with this research when she comes to her PhD. Mathinya’s research focuses on soil salinity - the process of increasing salt content - which affects the ability of plants to take up water, a process, known as osmotic stress. She will investigate the effects of irrigation water salinity on the grain yield and quality of malt barley.

Researcher with a passion for crime prevention
Kelebogile Boleu joined the Department of Criminology in the Faculty of Humanities, with a fresh take on diversion and crime prevention. Boleu holds a BA Criminology (Hons) and is now pursuing her Master’s degree. She worked for NICRO a non-profit organisation specialising in social crime prevention and offender reintegration, with programmes that prevent young and first-time offenders from re-offending, thus reducing crime. Boleu said that her practical experience makes her lectures to third-year criminology students exciting. Boleu’s research focuses on analysing the value of pre-sentencing reports in assisting adjudicators to make well-balanced judgments in cases.   

Research with a winning plan for fight against breast cancer
Beynon Abrahams joined the Department of Basic Medical Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Abrahams holds a BSc, BSc (Hons), and MSc in Medical Biosciences from the University of the Western Cape. Abrahams’ Master’s research focused on breast cancer, research on which he is building in his PhD. This doctoral research involves the exploration of P-glycoprotein, a protein expressed on cancer cell and responsible for multi-drug resistance in cancer treatment. The aim of this research is to develop a therapeutic drug treatment strategy that will improve breast cancer patient survival outcomes. Abrahams’s greater vision is to look at conventional cancer therapeutic regimens, to find ways in which they can be improved.

The nGAP initiative offers these young lecturers an opportunity for growth and development as academics, while providing them with opportunities they would have not have been exposed to otherwise.

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