Professor Tawana Kupe is the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Pretoria since January 2019. He holds a BA Honours and Masters degree in English from the University of Zimbabwe, and a DPhil in Media Studies from University of Oslo, Norway. Prof Kupe is the Africa Co-Chair of the Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN) since 2019 and an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities was bestowed on him by Michigan State University in December 2019. Prof Kupe has a notable publication record, having authored journal articles, books and book chapters in his main discipline, Media Studies and Journalism. Over the years, Prof Kupe has played a key role in the establishment of select new innovative initiatives at Wits, of which the latest in 2018 the Africa Centre for the Study of the United States. He is an active member of several Civil Society Organisations, including the AmaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and is Chairman of the Board of Media Monitoring Africa since 2005. He has been a judge and convenor of multiple major journalism awards in South Africa. He is also the Co-Chairperson of the Kifra Prize Selections Committee and member of the Kifra Prize Board of Governors, coordinated by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Rwanda from 2020. He also serves on the board of a major private company and is an International Council Member of the International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR). Professor Kupe is a popular invited speaker, academic expert and regular commentator on issues of media performance on radio, television and the print media in South Africa for local and international media. He has also been a columnist for several newspapers and magazines in South Africa.
Victoria Graham is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria and the Executive Director of the Consortium for Regional Integration and Social Cohesion-Social Elevation (RISC-RISE). She was a former Extraordinary Senior Research Fellow at Monash SA and Adjunct Associate Professor (Research) at Monash University, Australia. She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Comparative Politics and the Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics. Prof Graham holds a PhD in Political Studies from the University of Johannesburg. She specialises in democracy studies, African Small Island Developing states, diplomacy studies, active citizenship and comparative politics. Prof Graham’s teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels focuses on aspects of political science and international relations such as quality of democracy studies, political policy analysis, the developing world, migration studies and South African democracy and development. In 2015, her book entitled Pass of Fail? Assessing the Quality of South Africa’s Democracy in South Africa was published.
Thula Simpson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria and also a member of the editorial board of the South African Historical Journal and the executive committee of the Southern African Historical Society. He has held visiting lectureships and fellowships at institutions including Georgia State University, Sciences Po (Lyon) and Oxford University. He completed his DPhil at Birkbeck College, University of London in 2007, on the history of the armed struggle waged by the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe. He has since published extensively on that topic in a number of leading academic journals, including the African Historical Review, African Studies, the Journal of Southern African Studies and Social Dynamics. He is also author of Umkhonto we Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle which was published by Penguin in 2016. He is presently completing a history of South Africa from the Anglo-Boer War to the Covid-19 crisis which is scheduled to be published by Penguin Random House in August 2021, and which features extensive discussion of Cuba’s role in the war for Namibia. His research for the project has been supported by a number of funding bodies, including the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the National Research Fund, the Oppenheimer Fund and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
Dr Sithembile Mbete is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria where she teaches international relations and South African politics. She is a visiting researcher at the African Leadership Centre at King’s College London. Sithembile also serves on the council of the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSiRA) and is a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on the Electoral System. Her research has been funded by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Science (NIHSS), National Research Foundation (NRF), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Mellon Foundation. She is primary investigator in a Ford Foundation funded project on the Politics of Inequality in Southern Africa and a researcher in a Swedish Research Council funded project on the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the United Nations Security Council. In 2019, she was an OSF-SA Democracy Fellow for research on the South African electoral system. She comments frequently on a range of political issues in South African and international media including Al Jazeera, BBC World News, eNCA, Voice of America, SABC, the New York Times, the Mail and Guardian and others.