College of Human Sciences

Inspired to mentor budding researchers

Prof Kealeboga Maphunye, the Chair of the Department of Political Sciences in the College of Human Sciences, has recently been awarded a C2 rating by the National Research Foundation (NRF). The NRF rating system is a key driver in the foundation’s efforts to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is a valuable tool for benchmarking the quality of the country’s researchers against the best in the world. The ratings are allocated based on a researcher’s recent research outputs and impact as perceived by international peer reviewers.

Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa (Vice-Principal: Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation) and Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor) congratulate Prof Kealeboga Maphunye (College of Human Sciences) (centre) on his 2020 NRF C2 rating.

Talking about his rating, Maphunye says: "This award symbolises a great achievement, not only for me, but for our department, college and Unisa as a whole. It also symbolises success, the results of patience and perseverance, and proof that dreams do come true even on an academic journey of life."

Maphunye shares that the rating will benefit his research immensely as it will enable him to train other deserving or promising younger colleagues as researchers. In turn, he says "this will assist me to hand over the baton to future scholars by showing them the ropes. In terms of research, the rating will enable me to undertake a few studies in my areas of expertise in Africa, which I could not pursue previously. It will enhance my career, offer me networking opportunities and further exposure globally, and thus introduce me to like-minded peers."

The rating of individuals is based primarily on the quality and impact of their research outputs over the past eight years, taking into consideration the evaluation made by local and international peers. It identifies researchers who count among the leaders in their fields of expertise and gives recognition to those who constantly produce high quality research outputs.

Focused on democracy, elections and governance

The research of Prof Kealeboga Maphunye (CoD: Political Sciences, CHS) is particularly inspired by the tension-filled, emotion-charged and highly emotive area of elections, voting, campaigning and release of results, which are generally high-stakes matters in many African countries.

Sharing briefly about his research, Maphunye explains that his recent outputs focus on electronic voting and how this affects election management bodies. "I also co-published another article on the political consequences of party funding in South Africa. In addition, much of my recent research outputs have focused on South African and African elections." His body of research closely focuses on issues of democracy, elections, and governance in South Africa, the continent and globally.

A C rating implies that Maphunye is established with a sustained recent record of productivity in the field and that he is recognised by his peers as having produced a body of quality work, the core of which has coherence and attests to ongoing engagement with the field, demonstrates the ability to conceptualise problems and applies research methods to investigating them. 

Explaining what inspires him, Maphunye says: "My research work is particularly inspired by the tension-filled, emotion-charged and highly emotive area of elections, voting, campaigning and release of results, which are generally high-stakes matters in many African countries."

Maphunye’s research has taken him to many countries across the continent, where his role as one of the lecturers and facilitators of Unisa’s Management of Democratic Elections in Africa programme for capacitating election officials, has been highlighted, specifically for the influence of his research on election management bodies and policies. While this is a great achievement, he is determined to do more after this rating. "My short-term goals are to identify budding younger scholars to mentor in my journey of research. My long-term goals are to embark on a continent-wide research project on the significance of election technology for Africa," he explains.

Family support and engagement in the success of individuals is important; in this light Maphunye notes that his nurturing family has played a critical role in his academic success. "I am grateful to my family for their constant and consistent support. Such support enabled me to focus on the tough task of undertaking the research and producing the outputs which helped me to qualify for my NRF award," he concludes.

* By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020-06-25 00:00:00.0