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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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UFS awarded five South African Research Chairs
2016-09-30

Description: South African Research Chairs Tags: South African Research Chairs

From left to right, Prof Maryke Labuschagne,
Prof Corli Witthuhn (Vice-Rector: Research),
Prof Hendrik Swart and Prof Felicity Burt.

The UFS was awarded five SARChI (South African Research Chairs Initiative) research chairs, the main goal of which is to promote research excellence. In addition, there has been an increase in the rating of the University’s researchers as the result of raised academic standards over the past few years, in line with the UFS’s Academic Project. As of 2016 the UFS has 127 NRF-rated researchers.

The following research chairs have been awarded to the UFS since 2013:

Prof Hendrik Swart from the Department of Physics is the research chair of Solid State Luminescent and Advanced Materials (2013-2017). Prof Swart’s research may assist in reducing vulnerability and contributing to poverty alleviation by providing affordable lighting for people in rural areas through fabricating phosphors and the development of nanophosphors.

Prof Maryke Labuschagne from the Department of Plant Sciences is the research chair of Disease Resistance and Quality in Field Crops (2016-2020). Prof Labuschagne believes that food security is one of the key factors for stability and prosperity on the continent. Her research and that of her students focuses on the genetic improvement of food security crops in Africa, including such staples as maize and cassava.

Research Chairs have been designed, to attract
and retain excellence in research and innovation
at South African universities.

Prof Melanie Walker, from the Department of Higher Education and Human Development, was awarded the research chair from 2013 to 2017. Prof Walker’s research interrogates the role of higher education in order to advance human development and justice in education and society, especially in relation to severe inequalities and poverty. Significantly, it asks what kind of societies we want, what is important in a democratic society, and thus, what kind of higher education is valuable, relevant and desirable.

Prof Felicity Burt from the Department of Medical Microbiology was recently awarded the research chair from 2016 to 2020, to investigate medically significant vector-borne and zoonotic viruses currently; to define associations between these viruses and specific disease manifestations that have previously not been described in our region, to increase awareness of these pathogens; to further our understanding of host immune responses, which should facilitate development of novel treatments or vaccines and drug discovery.

The Humanities without Borders: Trauma, History and Memory research chair was awarded from 2016 to 2020. The Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation will use this research chair to investigate historical trauma within two African contexts – those of South Africa and Rwanda. The research hopes to bring insight into the role that memory plays in the formation of the experience of trauma, and to bring about healing of the trauma.

Research Chairs have been designed by the Department of Science and Technology, together with the National Research Foundation, to attract and retain excellence in research and innovation at South African public universities.

 

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