Stellenbosch University | Political Science

Current PhD candidates (in alphabetical order)

Monique Bennett (Supervisor: Dr Guy Lamb)

The Fragility of Post-Conflict Peacebuilding – examining Renamo’s return to armed conflict two decades after the General Peace Agreement

Monique Bennett works as a researcher for an NGO based in Johannesburg covering topics relating to governance, human security, environmental issues and peacebuilding within the African context. She holds a Master’s degree in International Relations with a particular focus on quantitative research methods from the University of Witwatersrand. She is the recipient of the DISARM PhD scholarship from the Peace Research Institute of Oslo in Norway to be completed with Stellenbosch University under the supervision of Dr Guy Lamb. Outside the library, she enjoys teaching yoga and pilates, traveling and cooking.

Chikondi Chidzanja (Supervisor: Dr Guy Lamb; Co-Supervisor: Prof. Janis van der Westhuizen)

A Comparative analysis of multilateral counter-terrorism responses in the Southern African Development Community and the Economic Community of West African States

Chikondi Chidzanja is an accomplished author who has published a bestseller in Malawi titled ‘Kamuzu Academy; Critical perspectives [from] past, [to] present and future of the Eton of Africa’, and is a consultant on International Relations, Political Economy and Development, Foreign Policy and SADC integration. He has also taught Law and History in Malawi. Chikondi holds an MA in International Relations and World Order from the University of Leicester. Currently, he is a PhD candidate at Stellenbosch where he is focusing on multilateral counter-terrorism responses in SADC and ECOWAS.

Thamsanqa Mahlobo (Supervisor: Prof Scarlett Cornelissen)

Critical Geopolitics of International Education: An Investigation of the Role of Public Diplomacy in International Education Exchange Programmes among African participants in China and Japan

Thami Mahlobo is the coordinator of internationalization support at Stellenbosch University International. He is an ABE Initiative alumnus from Hiroshima University in Japan and graduated with a MA degree in International Cooperation Studies in 2019. In 2016, he lectured on a course in Environmental Sustainability at the Durban University of Technology. Before studying at Hiroshima University, he pursued a MEcon degree in Applied Economics at Hunan University in China, where he graduated in 2015. That same year, he spent a month in Vietnam as an intern at the Centre for Water Management and Climate Change at the Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh City. His PhD research seeks to take a qualitative approach by investigating the role of public diplomacy in international education exchange programmes among African participants in China and Japan using the critical geopolitics of international education as a theoretical framework.

Mullerene (Mulla) Maree (Supervisor: Prof. Nicola De Jager)

The 21st Century’s Identity Crisis – The United States of America’s Fractured Democracy (Identity Politics and its Role in Challenging Unity and Democratic Values).

Mulla obtained her graduate and post-graduate degrees at Stellenbosch University (BA Social Dynamics; Hons Political Science; MA Political Science). Her MA thesis, under the supervision of Prof. Collette Schulz-Herzenberg, took a quantitative approach, looking into the youth of South Africa and what political attitudes drive political behaviour. She was a junior lecturer for a first year module – Introduction to South African Politics (April/May 2023). Furthermore, she assists at the Departmental Seminar Series. She has been a teaching assistant for four years at the University in the Department of Political Science, where she has also been head teaching assistant. Her PhD study seeks to take a quantitative approach by measuring how identity politics undermines democracy by challenging democratic values and fracturing unity. She will look into the United States as her case study. Outside of the University she has been, and currently is, a Parliamentary meeting monitor at the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG). Her political interests range from youth and democratic participation; political attitudes and behaviour; democratic governance; and identity and identity politics. 


Bathromeu Mavhura (Supervisor: Dr Guy Lamb)

A critical analysis of how counterterrorism actions influence conflict dynamics: The case of armed conflict in northern Mozambique

Bathromeu Mavhura was born and raised in Zimbabwe and migrated to South Africa after completing his Advanced level studies in History, English Literature, and Divinity. He is a diligent individual who obtained a BA in International Relations and Diplomacy in 2015 and Honours International Politics in 2018 at the University of South Africa. He proceeded to do an MA in Political Sciences in 2020 at Stellenbosch University. Bathromeu has a long and demonstrable interest in peace, conflict, and security issues, with a research background in state failure and terrorism in Africa. His Master’s thesis was on “The emergence of Boko Haram in Nigeria, using state failure and relative deprivation theories.” He is currently a Doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Sciences at Stellenbosch University. Mavhura is looking at the implications of labeling or classifying certain armed conflicts as ‘terrorism’ on decision-making and policy-making by governments and non-governmental organizations, using the ongoing conflict in northern Mozambique as an illustrative example. His vision is to contribute ideas and evidence to comprehend the root causes of armed conflict and conflict recurrences.

Ijeoma Opara (Supervisor: Prof. Amanda Gouws)

A Study of Slay Queenism: A Thematic Analysis of Black Femme Postfeminist Subjectivities in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Ijeoma Opara is currently a PhD Candidate in Political Science at Stellenbosch University, under the auspices of the SARChi Chair in Gender Politics. Her PhD project looks into the construction of black femme postfeminist identity in South Africa. After being awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in 2017, she went on to complete her Masters in International Relations at the University of Cape Town. She is also a freelance creative writer and research consultant with a keen interest in African politics, migration and feminist studies. Her creative writing pursuits centre around topics that relate to her own conceptualisation of being a foreign black woman that has grown up and lived in Stellenbosch, South Africa, while connecting to larger themes that deal with identity, belonging, the African Diaspora and feminism.

Chumile Samson (Supervisor: Dr Guy Lamb)

A critical analysis of the South African government’s response to undocumented migrants in post-apartheid South Africa

Chumile Samson is a passionate human rights activist and International Relations scholar with M.A. in Political Sciences. He is of the view that interdisciplinary and intergovernmental approaches are essential to finding solutions to complex and interlocking global challenges such as the refugee crises, which is why he is pursuing his PhD in Political Sciences with a focus on international migration, public policy and foreign policy analysis. Chumile was awarded in 2021 by Mail and Guardian as one of the top 200 most influential young people for his instrumental roles in higher education transformation, youth development and international diplomacy. He is currently the Head of Communication for South African Youth in International Diplomacy (SAYID) and a co-founder and Board Chair of Youth Inspired Developmental Initiatives ( YIDI). Within the academic space, Chumile has had the honour of being awarded some of the sought-after accolades, namely the Cannon Collin scholarship, BRICS Project 2.0 Capacity Development Fellowship and the National Research Fund Scholarship.

Marion Stevens (Supervisor: Prof. Amanda Gouws)

A policy analysis: from population control to the construction of sexual and reproductive health post-apartheid, 1994-2021

Marion Stevens has an academic background as a midwife, in medical anthropology and in public and development management and has worked in sexual and reproductive justice for over 30 years. Her work has included conducting participatory research, policy analysis and development, project management and governance and advocacy. She is the outgoing founding director of the Sexual and Reproductive Justice Coalition in South Africa and currently sits on the Gender Advisory Panel of the World Health Organisation. She is a recipient of the Sol Plaatje Canon Collins Scholarship.

Rui Tyitende (Supervisor: Dr Guy Lamb)

Vignettes of Manufacturing Discontent and Populist Ideology of Elites: A Comparative Analysis of Namibia under Nujoma, Pohamba and Geingob (1990-2024)

Rui Tyitende teaches politics at the University of Namibia, Windhoek. For more than a decade as an academic, his academic interests include political ideologies, politics of the state, public policy analysis, the political economy of China, political behaviour, social movements, political violence and terrorism studies. Rui is also associated with the Centre for Chinese Studies based at Stellenbosch University, South Africa and an associate of the transnational organisation, Democracy Without Borders. Rui holds a Master of Arts in Political Science from Stellenbosch University, a Masters in Public Administration and BA (Hons) in Public Administration from the University of Namibia. He is a highly sought after political commentator in Namibia and was instrumental in the drafting of Namibia’s National Policy and Strategy on Anti-Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Combating the Financing of Proliferation. He is deeply involved in community projects that seeks to promote food security and alleviate poverty amongst the marginalised and downtrodden in society. His current research is on the populist ideology of elites and social cohesion in Namibia under the reigns of Namibia’s two former heads of state and the incumbent.

Kgalalelo Nganje (Superviser: Prof Collette Schulz-Hersenberg)
Localising Electoral Democracy? An Analysis of Domestic Election Observation in the SADC Region 
Kgalalelo Nganje is a PhD Candidate in Political Science at Stellenbosch University, and a recipient of the Lisa Maskell Scholarship. She holds a Master of Arts in Politics from the University of Johannesburg. She has worked in the peacebuilding, think tank and electoral management sectors in South Africa and Botswana. Her research interests include elections, democratic governance and peacebuilding. In 2023, she was a Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Scholar in the Africa Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington DC.

Recent graduates

Dr Omomayowa Abati (Supervisor: Associate Professor Collette Schulz-Herzenberg)

Beyond #NotTooYoungToRun: Party Candidacy, Political Representation and Legislative Effectiveness of Young Politicians in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic

This study examines Nigeria’s Age Reduction Law on youth representation through party candidacy and legislative representation and effectiveness in national and subnational parliaments. The study finds that while the reform resulted in an increase in young party candidates, the unwillingness of political parties to nominate large numbers of young candidates reduced the reform’s effect on youth representation in national and subnational parliaments. The study concludes that young people are politically competitive and interested in pursuing candidacy positions in political parties. Further, party selection bias recognises electorally competitive young aspirants. However, being a young legislator reduces the chance of legislative effectiveness.

Landi Kotze (Supervisor: Prof. Pieter Fourie; Co-Supervisor: Dr Cindy Steenekamp)

There will be blood: Menstrual Politics in the Dwarsriver Valley

Landi grew up in Paarl, and after school she completed her graduate and post-graduate degrees at Stellenbosch University (BA Humanities, Hons International Relation Cum Laude, MA International Relations Cum Laude). She is passionate about people and their environment, consequently devoting most of her studies to sustainable development. Whilst completing her post-graduate degrees, Landi represented South Africa at various international conferences, including the Youth Agricultural Summit in Brussels and the UN Youth Assembly in New York. After completing her MA study “Curse or Cure: the relation between food aid and food security in sub-Saharan Africa”, she decided to shift her focus from the international to local context. Her doctoral study considers menstrual politics in the Dwarsriver Valley just outside of Stellenbosch. Landi intends for this study to contribute to progressive policy making and development.

Helen Macdonald (Supervisor: Prof. Collette Schulz-Herzenberg)

Populism, Nativism and Voting Behaviour: A Global Perspective

Helen is a senior research analyst who works in different sectors (NGO, academia, corporate) conducting quantitative and qualitative research for a range of clients. She has previously worked for the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) as a political analyst and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) as an analyst and head of research. As part of a team at IJR, she was instrumental in founding the South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB), a longitudinal survey research project mapping attitudes towards justice and reconciliation in South Africa. Helen has also lectured political behavior and social science research methodology to undergrads and postgrads in the Department of Political Science at Stellenbosch University (SU) and managed an internship programme in the South African parliament. She holds an MA in Political Science from SU. Her PhD focusses on voting behavior and more specifically how anti-immigrant nativism influences populist voting. It is a quantitative study using data from the Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) and includes seven country cases in the global North and South.

Ngqapheli Mchunu (Supervisor: Prof. Nicola de Jager)

Challenges facing anti-corruption mechanisms in a dominant party democratic state: A case study of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, 2004-2019.

Ngqapheli Mchunu is a Social Sciences researcher with a keen interest in the academic research areas of corruption, governance, public opinion, and service delivery.  He is competent in qualitative social sciences research methods including questionnaire design, data collection and analysis and has developed competencies in quantitative social sciences research as well .   Mchunu holds a Master of Social Sciences degree in Political Science from the University of KwaZulu. Currently, he is enrolled for a Doctoral degree  in Political Science at Stellenbosch University looking at challenges facing  corruption fighting institutions  in dominant party systems.

Batlang Seabo (Supervisor: Prof. Collette Schulz-Herzenberg)

Ritual partisans or rational voters? Voting behaviour in Botswana’s electoral democracy: 2008-2019

Batlang Seabo is a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Botswana. He holds an MA degree in Political Science from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary and completed his PhD in Political Science at Stellenbosch University in 2023. He is also a researcher and a member of the Afrobarometer Survey Network for Botswana. His research interests include voting behaviour, political communication, political parties and party systems, political elites and network analysis. He has co-authored and published articles in local and international journals.

Annemie Parkin (Supervisor: Prof. Nicola de Jager)

Parties of Pressure: Opposition parties in the dominant-party systems of Botswana and South Africa

Dr. Annemie Parkin is a Stellenbosch University alumnus. She did her undergraduate (BA Humanities) and postgraduate studies (Honours, MA, PhD) at US. Her research interests include the following: democratization, democratic consolidation, dominant-party systems, party politics in Southern Africa, Southern African and African politics. She is currently working in the higher education industry as an Academic Manager for a private higher education institution.