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14 May 2019 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Tsepo Moeketsi
Prof Ashafa
Prof Ashafa’s research documents plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments.

The Phytomedicine and Phytopharmacology Research Programme (PPRP) in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Qwaqwa Campus researches the biological effects of medicinal plants used in the folkloric medicine of the Eastern Free State, particularly to explore the values and contribution of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) towards broader scientific research. This is according to the programme’s principal investigator and researcher, NRF C2-rated researcher, Professor Anofi Ashafa. 

 “Our research is mainly aimed at documenting plants used by the Basotho in the management of different ailments and to further discover, isolate, and purify active phytoconstituents that are responsible for disease curation or amelioration, thereby assisting in the global promotion of accessible and affordable medication in developing countries,” said Prof Ashafa. 

Since 2012, the PPRP has worked extensively on Basotho medicinal plants (BMP) used as antimicrobials, antioxidants, antidiabetics, antitubercular, anticancer, anthelmintic, and antidiarrheal agents, starting from biological activities up to the  evaluation of the toxicity of these plants for the kidney, liver, and heart functions in order to establish safe dosage parameters. These activities have led to the discovery of four potent antidiabetic biomolecules that are awaiting the processes of patency and commercialisation. Additional outputs include 104 published peer-reviewed articles , 7 postdoctoral fellows, 6 PhDs, 9 master’s, and 16 honours graduates. 

“Our research informs teaching and the development of expertise in ethnobotany, 
phytomedicine, and phytopharmacology in order to contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) through human capacity development, skills, and knowledge transfer.

The group is also investigating some medicinal plants on the endangered red list of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), through micropropagation and field trials as well as proposing conservation strategies to preserve these valuable species.

The PPRP consists of postdoctoral fellows, PhD, master’s, and honours students and research is done in collaboration with several local and international universities as well as the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa. 


News Archive

Guest lecture: Mr Pretorius, CEO of McCarthy Limited
2004-11-05

The challenges facing business leaders in a rapidly changing South Africa

“The world we used to know does not exist anymore. Leaders are continually dealing with crisis and opportunities, in a high-pressure environment,” said Mr Brand Pretorius, honorary professor from the University of the Free State , delivering his 13th guest lecture on the challenges facing business leaders in a rapidly changing South Africa .

Mr Pretorius, CEO of McCarthy Limited, identified certain trends which are responsible for changes to the South African business environment. He said the South African business environment is ever-changing, fast moving, complex and unpredictable. “As business people we have to deal with the impact,” he said.

“Years ago we were globally isolated. Now we live in a shrinking borderless world with crumbling trade barriers. Globilisation of our economy is accelerating. For South African business leaders this creates a sea of export opportunities,” he said.

Although there are ongoing demands for substantial profit growth from shareholders, the days of focussing only on their interests are gone, said Mr Pretorius. Stakeholder commitment now enjoys high priority and business leaders have to deal with the challenges accompanying black economic empowerment and employment equity.

Customers are also well-informed and demanding. Business leaders could easily loose the loyalty of their customers because of a hyper-competitive environment with an oversupply of goods and services.

Mr Pretorius stated that staff want to be involved and are looking for meaning in their workplace. Employers also have to deal with HIV/Aids in their workplaces. Trauma, absenteeism and financial implications could have a great effect on the viability of a business.

Against these changes Mr Pretorius pointed out the challenges business leaders are facing. In doing so a number of questions arise. The external business climate is characterised by turbulence and change. Internally there is a need for stability and meaning. How do we handle both challenges effectively?

Because of changes strategy decay is taking place and past strategies become irrelevant. Mr Pretorius said that business leaders need to modify their business models to prevent the downfall of their companies.

It is important for leaders to know what is happening in their world. “Continuous innovation is a critical success factor. The reality is that innovation is the only insurance against irrelevance,” he said.

Because of a changed environment leaders must perform and transform, simultaneously. How do we strike a balance between focused transformation and the achievement of world class performance, asked Mr Pretorius? “We need to bring about meaningful and sustainable empowerment, in order to create an inclusive economy and society. Leadership and management profiles should reflect the diversity of our teams, however at the same time every effort should be made to stop the brain drain and retain the expertise of experienced white managers.”

He also stated that leaders have an important role to play in terms of employment creation and corporate caring. “Sustainable stability and prosperity will not materialise without efforts in this regard.”

Mr Pretorius said that above challenges could be addressed by developing the ability to focus on creating a better future, rather than defending the past, a long-term vision, facing new realities, enhancing the value of brands and mobilising IT and the Internet to serve the business and customers better.

Retaining a positive vision of the future, embracing change and transformation, building your business according to the right principles and values and aspiring to be the best are some of the guidelines, according to Mr Brand, for future business success. He stated that creating a value advantage above one’s competitors, customer satisfaction and retention and inspirational leadership will add to the success of one’s business.

“We are indeed living in the era of the ultimate challenges, but also the ultimate opportunities. Let me clearly state that I have hope – in my view the tide has turned. Every day I experience small miracles inspired by ordinary people making an extraordinary difference,” said Mr Pretorius.

 

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Media Representative
Tel: (051) 401-2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@mail.uovs.ac.za
5 November 2004

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