University Council

Prof David Mabunda Chairperson of Council

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Prof David Mabunda is the Managing Director for Halls Properties in Mataffain, Nelspruit. Previously he was the Chief Executive Officer for South African National Parks, and former Director of the Kruger National Park. Prior to his joining SANParks he lectured at various colleges and universities locally and abroad.
He has published extensively in environmental education and educational psychology. In 2004 he joined the Department of Land Affairs as a Director and played a leading role in the land reform and restitution process in Mpumalanga. He is a global conservation management leader who successfully led the business transformation of the agency and increased its revenue from R 23m to R 1,3 billion over 10 years.
An active participation in global conservation agencies, he has served as Chair of the World Protected Areas Leadership Forum from 2001-2012. He has served on various Boards including Nedbank Green Trust, Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism, and the University of Pretoria Alumni. Prof Mabunda has experience in strategic planning, management and leadership with good understanding of Human Resources Capital Management. Prof Mabunda has recently been appointed as Chair of the Interim Council of the University of Mpumalanga and in 2017 Dr Mabunda received the title of Honorary Professor of the Academic Union at Oxford in the UK. David obtained a PhD in Tourism Management from the University of Pretoria.
David is married to Thandi. They have four children, the eldest being a son, followed by three daughters. When not working, David enjoys reading on a wide range of topics, listening to jazz and South African music and watching soccer. David believes a healthy body makes for a healthy mind, and despite his mind-bogglingly busy schedule he ensures he regularly makes time to work out in the gym.

Ms Charmaine Mabuza Deputy Chairperson of Council

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Mrs. Charmaine Mabuza is a business entrepreneur with extensive business and operational management experience. Mrs. Mabuza served on a number of Boards, including Wiphold, the first female owned company to be listed on the JSE.  

Between 1999 and 2008 she was one of the founders of Zamani Holdings, a holding company for various independent companies, including ITHUBA, the National Lottery Operator.

Mrs. Mabuza has occupied several notable leadership positions including Managing Director of Empilweni Payout Services.  She has served as Sheriff of the High Court and Lower Court. She is Chair of the Board of Sheriffs, a regulatory/statutory Board since 2006 and in this capacity  serves on the NEEC Committee, where she spearheaded the transformation of the judiciary. She has served as a trustee for the Unisa Foundation.

She is currently serving as the Deputy Chair of the University of Mpumalanga and she also chairs the Nominations Committee.

Prof Thoko Mayekiso Vice-Chancellor

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Prof Thoko Mayekiso, is the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mpumalanga with effect from 1 November 2014.

She obtained a BA, BA Honours, and MA in Psychology, from the University of Fort Hare. She furthered her studies at the Free University Berlin, in Germany, where she obtained her D. Phil (cum laude) in Psychology. She also holds a Higher Education Diploma (Post Graduate) from the University of South Africa. She is a registered Clinical Psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. In her sterling academic career, Prof Mayekiso has held positions of Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, Professor, Head of Department, and Vice Dean at the then University of Transkei.  She practiced as Honorary Clinical Fellow at the Greenwood Institute of Child Health, University of Leicester and simultaneously served as a Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Medical Psychology, Leicester General Hospital in the United Kingdom.  Being a distinguished scholar, and accomplished academic, Prof Mayekiso attracted a number of scholarships and fellowships. Notable among these are the German Academic Exchange Scholarship (DAAD) and the Commonwealth Fellowship tenable in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, she was awarded a certificate from the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) - in acknowledgement of the contribution made to the Profession of Psychology in South Africa. The South African University Vice-Chancellors Association and the American Council on Education awarded her a fellowship which was tenable at the University of Washington, Seattle. She then joined the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 2001 where she served as Head of School, Deputy Dean, and then Acting Executive Dean in the Faculty of Humanities. She proceeded to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2007, as an Executive Dean in the Faculty of Arts, and then Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Engagement) in 2009.  

She has published in accredited journals - both nationally and internationally. She has also contributed chapters in no less than seven books. The themes on which she published are wide and varied, but the core areas have been in adolescent sexuality, HIV and AIDs prevention programmes and mental health. In terms of student supervision, she has supervised twenty-four (24) Masters Students and twelve (12) Doctoral students. She is a C3 rated scientist by the National Research Foundation and a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

Mr Gay Mokoena Council Appointee

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Mr Gay Moekena matriculated at Khumbula High School, outside White River in the Mpumalanga Province in 1980. He went on to further his studies at the University of Zululand where he obtained his Bachelor of Administration degree in 1983. He was active in the Mass Democratic Movement during the 1980s. He was detained during the 1986 uprising. He led the civic movement during the early 1990s, when he helped the Gutshwa community to fight for access to water and electricity. During the late 1990s, Gay served as a chairperson of the Black Management Forum in the Ehlanzeni Region in Mpumalanga.
Mr Gay Moekena is a Development Economist and he holds a B. Admin (Hons) and a Master of Business Leadership (MBL) degrees from Unisa.  He has worked in the small business development sector for more than 30 years, starting from junior ranks as a business advisor to executive management.  He was on an internship as a Visiting Auditor at the West LB Bank, Düsseldorf, the third largest bank in Germany in 1995. He also participated in the United States- South Africa Leadership Exchange Programme (USSALEP) during which he attended leadership courses at the Washington DC University. He was also an intern at Arthur D Little in Boston, Massachusetts, a leading consulting firm in the USA.
After the historic democratic elections in 1994, Gay joined the Mpumalanga Provincial Government where he assisted with the transformation of the previous apartheid governmental structures. He was later appointed to head the Small Business Desk in the Mpumalanga Government. In this position, Gay was responsible for developing the Small Business Development Strategy for Mpumalanga. He also played a major role in the development of The White Paper on Small Business Strategy in South Africa in 1995.
He left government at the end of 1998 to start Silulu Investment Services, a private company involved in financial and consulting services for the SMME sector. Silulu specializes in deal-making for BEE consortia. In the past, Silulu has facilitated and invested in a number of business deals including, inter alia, the Mpumalanga Equity Fund, the Tourism Enterprise Programme (TEP), the Londoloza Forestry Consortium and York Timbers. Currently, Silulu has investments in Vutsela Investments (farming), Harkem Telecoms, Asithabeni Joint Venture (Tourism) and Olympic Park Properties.
Gay has previously served on the boards of Ntsika (now SEDA), Mpumalanga Economic Empowerment Corporation (now MEGA), the Mpumalanga Gaming Board, the Mpumalanga Housing Finance Company (chairperson for 10 years), the Inkomati Catchment Management Agency, Saw Milling South Africa (inaugural chairperson of the revived SSA), Forestry South Africa and York Timbers Limited (JSE listed).
He is currently a director of the Silulu Group of companies (chairperson), Vutsela Investments, the NAFCOC Investment Company, Unlimited Citrus and the University of Mpumalanga.
Mr Moekena is a member of a number of community organizations. He is a Fellowship Member of the Institute of Directors of South Africa (IoDSA) and he is the Secretary of NAFCOC in the Mpumalanga Province. He is also the Vice-President and currently the Acting CEO of the South African Football Association (SAFA), an organization that controls the sport of football in South Africa.

Prof Selby Ripinga Council Appointee

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Prof Simeon Selby Ripinga is a seasoned educationist, leader, manager and certified executive and career coach. He has more than 20 years of experience in leadership and management of organisations, policy making and legislation, teaching, coaching and mentoring of young people. He has the following qualifications: Doctor of Education, University Education Diploma, Certificate in Coaching Skills, Executive Coach Training Programme.

His areas of expertise are: Leadership and Management Development, Governance, Higher Education, Teacher Education, Policy-making and Legislation. He is a member of the following Professional and Governance organisations: Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA); South African Board of Personnel Practice (SABPP); South African Education Research Association (SAERA); Council on Higher Education (CHE). He has the following awards and honours: MEC Award: Mpumalanga Department of Education, Nelspruit; Nkomazi Municipality Award: Nkomazi Municipality, Malelane; Prof S.S. Ripinga Comprehensive School: KaSibhejane (Block B) Village; and Penryn College, Nelspruit: Co- Founder. 

Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo Council Appointee

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Prof Thandabantu Nhlapo was Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town for ten years, where he had also served as Professor and Head of the Department of Private Law. Prof Nhlapo was a full-time Commissioner on the South African Law Reform Commission, where he was responsible for the development of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, passed by Parliament in 1998. He has also served on the Executive Councils of the International Society of Family Law and the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law. By presidential appointment, Nhlapo was Chair of the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims (“Nhlapo Commission”). He holds a BA (Law) degree from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, an LL.B (Hons) from the University of Glasgow, and a DPhil in Family Laws from Oxford University. Nhlapo was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Glasgow in 2012.

Ms Malebo Ledwaba Council Appointee

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Ms Malabo Ledwaba attended High School at Motse Maria High School. Malabo attended her tertiary education at Setotolwaqne College of education, where she obtained her Secondary Teacher’s Diploma. Malebo furthered her studies at Durban University of Technology and obtained B-Tech Management - Degree.

Malebo is currently completing her MBA with the University of Limpopo. Malebo is a lecturer at Capricorn TVET College, Polokwane Campus.

Malebo is also an entrepreneur at heart and own Brainwave Projects 342 CC t/a Glitter Chemicals CC, a cleaning detergents manufacturing company based at Chebeng, Moletjie in Polokwane.

Mr Oupa Galane Council Appointee

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Mr. Oupa Galane matriculated at Alfred Matshine Commercial School based in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. He holds a Masters’ Degree in Accounting Sciences, BTech in Cost & Management, National Diploma Accounting and Diploma in Information Technology. Mr. Oupa Galane is a seasoned Senior Finance Manager and Corporate Governance Specialist.  He is currently pursuing a PhD in Accounting Sciences under the research topic: Towards a conceptual framework to improve the performance of Major State-Owned Companies in South Africa through performance differentials and drivers.

 Mr. Oupa Galane is a qualified Professional Accountant (SA) and Tax Practitioner, with 14 years of experience in finance within higher education sector. He is also a qualified facilitator at ETDP-SETA and a member of professional bodies such as IoDSA, SAIPA and CRFSA.

Mr. Galane is also engaged in governance and oversight role in various institutions; He serves as Deputy Chairperson of Council at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT). Amongst others, he serves(d) as an independent non-executive director/council member at University of Mpumalanga (UMP), University of South Africa (UNISA), Ekurhuleni East TVET and Convocational College (EEC), Tshwane South TVET and Convocational College (TSC), Polokwane Social Housing (PHA), Service-SETA, UNISA Retirement Fund (UNISARF) and Sagewood Manor Home Association. 

In his participation as independent non-executive director, he chairs(ed) committees such as; Audit and Risk, Governance Finance and Investment, Finance and Investment, Project, Contracts and Property, and Social Ethics Committee. 

Mr Galane is married to Hlezi Galane have two kids, Bokang and Letago Galane.

Mr James Aling Council Appointee

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Mr Aling studied at Stellenbosch (1982-84) where he received a B. Agric Admin degree in agricultural economics and management. Post graduate studies included a BCom Hons at Wits while in Johannesburg at the Development Bank (1986-87) and later a M.Sc. in agricultural economics at Michigan State University in the USA (1990-1991).
He has been involved in the real estate sector for the last 25 years having been the Managing Director of HL Hall and Sons Properties (Pty) Ltd until Feb 2018. James is currently the owner of Spaces Places & Partnerships, an urban management business that manages the Riverside Park mixed use node, which is a vibrant growing precinct on 185 Ha of land, and the Riverside Industrial Park.
He is a strong believer in collective and collaborative initiatives and over the years has been involved in a number of sectors, business and community initiatives. These include:
  • Established the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) Mpumalanga Regional Council and was the first Chair of the Regional Council and member of the national board of SAPOA for the period 2014 to 2018;
  • Involved in the establishment of and first Chair of the board of the Mbombela Economic Development Partnership (MEDP);
  • Involved in the establishment of the Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism and was the second President and member of the board for 10 years;
  • A member of the South African Precinct Management Initiative Consultative Forum
  • Chair of the Mbombela CID Forum;
  • Council member of the University of Mpumalanga and Chair of the Facilities and Infrastructure Planning Committee; and
  • Chair of the Penryn Council, an independent school located in Mbombela.

Prof Phindile Lukhele Olorunju Senate Representative

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Prof P.E. Lukhele-Olorunju is currently the Director of Research Management at the University of Mpumalanga. She has qualifications in Agricultural sciences; BSc Agriculture 1978 (Swaziland), MSc Plant Breeding 1982 (Nigeria) and PhD Plant Breeding/ Virology 1990 (USA). 

She has worked as a researcher in agricultural research institutions and lectured at three renowned universities (Swaziland, Nigeria and South Africa). As a researcher and educator in Nigeria, she released a number of groundnut varieties for the country and West African region and also graduated a number of international students at BSc, MSc and PhD levels. Other experiences include international consulting and management of international agricultural projects, collaborative research projects with CGIAR Institutions and University of Georgia (USA). Phindile managed three research institutions, as Group Executive, at the Agricultural Research Council of South Africa from 2002 to 2008. In January 2009, Phindile joined the University of Venda, South Africa, as Director of Research and Innovation. In July 2010 she moved to the Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) as Director of Research and later Interim CEO of AISA 1 September 2012- 31 March 2014. Phindile has served at Institutional Boards/Councils (Africa Institute of South Africa, Bioversity International and University of Mpumalanga). She is an ASI Fellow. 

Prof Moses Mbewe Senate Representative

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Prof Moses Mbewe originates from the Nkomazi region of the Province of Mpumalanga, in South Africa.  He received his early education in the same area up to high school.  He furthered his education by obtaining his BSc (4 years) in Biology at Texas Southern University, in the USA, graduating with Summa cum Laude status in 1989.  He did his postgraduate studies (Masters and PhD) at the University of Cambridge, Department of Genetics, in the UK from 1991 to 1994 in Microbial Genetics and Molecular Biology.  He went on to become the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Microbiology at the University of Cape Town, South Africa in 1995 to 96.  He worked as senior lecturer teaching Microbiology at the University of the North, which became University of Limpopo from 1996 to 2004 and 2012 to 2015. During the second stint at UL, he served as Head of Department of Water and Sanitation and Acting Director of the School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences.  He also worked at the Northwest University as an Associate Professor and Director of the School of Agricultural Sciences from 2005 to 2011 teaching Microbiology.  He assumed his duties at the University Mpumalanga as Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Sciences at the beginning of 2016.  He has served as Thrust Leader for Biotechnology at the University of Limpopo, as Board member of the Agricultural Research Council, South African Society for Microbiology, Northwest Nguni Cattle Development Trust, Limpopo Agriculture MEC Advisory Council, and ordinary member of the World Economic Forum 2001-2004.  He is currently serving as Chairperson of the National Task Force for the Containment of Polio in Labs (NTF), a ministerial advisory committee for the National Department of Health, and Council on Higher Education (HEQC) as Programme Evaluator.  He is further serving as a Council and EXCO member of the University of Mpumalanga Council.

Dr Thandekile Sabela Academic Staff Representative

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Dr Thandekile Sabela is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Mpumalanga in the School of Commerce and Management, Department of Development Studies. She holds a PhD in the field of Development Studies. She has diverse research areas of interest influenced by diversity inherent in the discipline of Development Studies. She has vast experience in the higher education space, and has presented papers in international and national academic conferences and has published peer reviewed articles in the scholarships of teaching and learning, research and community engagement. 

Prof Tembisa Ngqondi Institutional Forum Representative

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Prof Tembisa Ngqondi is a Head of School of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and a Chairperson of the Institutional Forum. Over the years she has accumulated work experience in academia where she served in different portfolios at the departmental, school, faculty and institutional level. She obtained her PhD in Information Systems at the University of Fort Hare. Her research interest is on Information and Communication Technology with the specific focus on Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) and Information Technology Governance (ITG). Prof Ngqondi is an active community member who participate on diverse community engagement projects at an individual to national level. Her ambition is to contribute towards human capacity development.

Mr James Thrush Support Staff Representative

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Mr James Thrush began his career as an aircraft mechanic with SAA and upon passing the voluntary free trade test he resigned, going back to university to become an engineer. Graduating in 1989 from UCT his thesis was on the attenuation of sound generated by a Roots air blower at a water treatment plant near a residential area in the Greater Cape Town area.  In May 1996, he was registered as a Professional Engineer in terms of the Engineering Profession of South Africa Act, 1990. In October 1996 he addressed a seminar arranged by the Institute for International Research. The topic was “Incorporating Preventative and Corrective Maintenance Into Your Production Process in Order to Prevent Future Break Downs Which Cause a Slow Down in Productivity and Profitability. In October 1996 he was elected to the grade of Member of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering. Whilst employed by Sappi Kraft he completed an MBA through the Wits Business School,  graduating in 2000. 

His research report was titled “Social Networks Underpinning Productivity Improvement Initiatives”. This considered four social characteristics and the impact that they have collectively on the successful implementation of change initiatives designed to improve productivity. In October 2012 he joined the National Institute for Higher Education in Mpumalanga and in 2015 was appointed and the Director: Infrastructure and Maintenance at the University of Mpumalanga.

Mr Muzi Khoza Convocation Representative

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Mr Khoza completed his first degree in Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management at the University of Mpumalanga. Muzi Khoza founded the 1st branch of the newly established EFF Students Command and rose through its ranks until he was elected the Secretary-General in July 2019.

Muzi Khoza is a former CRC president at the University of Mpumalanga and current President of Convocation. Mr Khoza is also a member of the University of Mpumalanga Council.

Mr Muzi also gained a lot of experience in Student governance at the University of Mpumalanga.

Mr Mxolisi Nkosi Convocation Representative

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Mr Mxolisi Nkosi was born at Msogwaba on 3 January 1988 and later moved to Newscom where he started school at Mthunzi primary school. He then went to Mthombo Senior Secondary school where he matriculated in 2006. In 2009 he started working for an organization called New Youth Development as a Youth Mentor where he provided career guidance to young people of Msogwaba until the year 2012 when he became a member of the Advisory Board from 2017 to date.

He hold two qualifications: National Diploma in Agriculture and an Advanced Diploma in Agricultural Extension, during his years at UMP, he was involved in student politics and became the first branch secretary of the campus in 2012. The following period, 2013/14, he became SRC member and Public relation officer (PRO).

In the year 2016 after graduation he was elected as branch chairperson of the YCLSA Young Communist League and a member of SACP. He is currently a Director and a Board secretary of Buhle Bemvelo farms and he is employed by the DARDLEA as Agricultural Advisor.

Mr Yondela Mzanywa

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Ms Caroline Magagula SRC Representative

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Ms Vuyelwa Carol Magagula is currently doing her 2nd year at UMP studying towards a Bachelor of Development Studies degree. Ms Magagula is holding the position of Secretary General on both the Student Representative Council (SRC) and the Mbombela Campus Representative Council (CRC). She is also the Deputy Chairperson of the Progressive Blacks in Information Computer Technology (Mpumalanga Provincial Executive). Ms Magagula is also the Administration Officer of the Mpumalanga TV 2019/2020. She one of the partners of the "She Means Business" Organisation where she runs a program on Digital skills training for women.

Ms Magagula is a young woman who believes that female leaders possess tremendous abilities that can shape the current generation into one filled with endless possibilities and, therefore, strives to explore every angle of female leadership and fully represent young women with ambitions and dreams.