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Our team

Professor Imraan Valodia, Director: Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, and Pro Vice-Chancellor: Climate Sustainability and Inequality

Professor Imraan Valodia, an economist, is Pro Vice-Chancellor for Climate, Sustainability and Inequality, and Director of the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits). His research interests include inequality, competition policy, employment, the informal economy, gender and economic policy, and industrial development. Imraan has played a central role in establishing and leading Wits University’s Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS). The SCIS is a multi-disciplinary, cross-country initiative to promote research and policy change to promote greater equality in the Global South. Imraan has led and participated in a number of large national and international studies. He is recognised nationally and internationally for his research expertise in economic development. Imraan is a part-time member of the Competition Tribunal in South Africa. He is also a commissioner of the National Minimum Wage Commission and a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (Assaf) Standing Committee on Science for the Reduction of Poverty and Inequality. In August 2016 Professor Valodia was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to chair the Advisory Panel on the National Minimum Wage. This led to the introduction of a National Minimum Wage in South Africa.  In early 2018, he was appointed to a Panel to advise the Minister of Economic Development on amendments to the Competition Act, which were introduced into law in 2019. He was also appointed by the Minister of Finance to a Panel of Experts to advise on Value-Added Taxes.

Professor Edward Webster, Distinguished Research Professor

Edward Webster is the Distinguished Research Professor at the Southern Centre of Inequality Studies and the founder and past director of the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand. He is the author of seven books and over one hundred and twenty academic articles. He was a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and the first Ela Bhatt Professor at the International Centre for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) at Kassel University in Germany.

His co-authored volume, Grounding Globalisation: Labour in the Age of Insecurity, was awarded the American Sociological Association award for the best scholarly monograph published on labour. In May 2017, he published an edited volume, Crossing the Divide: Precarious Work and the Future of Labour locating the changing dynamics of work in a comparative context through research in India, Ghana and South Africa. In 2019 his co-edited volume, The Unresolved National Question: Left Thought Under Apartheid was shortlisted for the annual National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) non-fiction award. His current research interests are on the production and reproduction of inequality in the workplace and the use of labour power as a strategy for reducing this inequality. 

David Francis, Deputy Director

David Francis is the Deputy Director at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies and a PhD candidate in Economics at Wits University. His research interests focus on labour market economics, the informal economy, and inequality. He was the researcher for the Advisory Panel on the minimum wage in South Africa. He has previously worked as a development consultant, and a policy and budget analyst at South Africa’s National Treasury, where he worked in health and social policy. He has an MA in development studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a bachelor of social sciences in economics and history from the University of Cape Town.

Stacey-Leigh Joseph, Head of Operations

Stacey-Leigh Joseph is Head of Operations at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. She is the former Executive Manager for Programmes at the South African Cities Network where she was responsible for leading a team of researchers developing content to support improved urban governance and management in South African cities. Her specific research focus areas over the past 15 years have been on issues related to land, human settlements, and urban development. She also has experience working in government and civil society and holds a Master of Social Science degree in International Relations from Rhodes University. 

Dr Ruth Castel-Branco, Research Manager: Future of Work

Ruth Castel-Branco is the Research Manager on the Future of Work Project. She has a BA in Geography and African Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2005), an MA in Development Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2012) and a PhD in Sociology from the University of the Witwatersrand (2021). Previously, Ruth worked at the International Labour Office in Mozambique on social and maternity protection. She first became interested in questions of labour as a student activist, eventually cutting her teeth as a labour organiser at DC Jobs with Justice. Ruth is an alumnus of the International Centre for Development and Decent Work and a fellow of the Open Society Foundations’ Inequality Fellowship. Her research interests include agrarian transformation and the changing nature of work, (informal) workers’ rights and organization, the redistributive role of the state and social protection.

Aroop Chatterjee, Research Manager: Wealth Inequality

Aroop Chatterjee leads the research agenda on wealth inequality at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. Aroop is currently developing a strategy to bring disparate streams of related research across disciplines and countries under the lens of wealth inequality. He is also focused on using new and existing data to develop wealth distribution in South Africa. Previously he was the senior economist on labour issues at the National Treasury of South Africa and was intimately involved in policymaking and analysis of the labour market, including the Employment Tax Incentive, and the National Minimum Wage. He has an MSc Development Economics with distinction from the School of Oriental and African Studies, a BSc Economics from the University College London. He is also a Chartered Accountant.

Professor Michael Sachs, Adjunct Professor: Public Economy

Michael Sachs has worked for over twenty-five years in public policy, politics and government in South Africa. He is former head of National Treasury’s budget office. He spent nine years at the national headquarters of the African National Congress, where he coordinated economic policy and led the party’s research agenda. He holds an MSc in Economics from the University of London (SOAS) and a Masters in Public Admin (International Development) from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Dr Hannah Dawson, Senior Researcher: Future of Work

Hannah Dawson is a Senior Researcher at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. Her research interests include youth marginality and unemployment, informal and precarious work, inequality, the future of work, and new forms of social protection in the Global South. Hannah has a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Oxford and is currently a (non-resident) fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. She is working on a book manuscript that traces the lives, livelihoods and struggles of young men to examine how mass joblessness is engendering new forms of social, economic and political life in South Africa. This research builds upon her earlier scholarship on the political subjectivities of unemployed youth and the complex ecology of patronage politics. At SCIS, she will focus her research energies on two projects: the ‘future of work(ers)’ project alongside another project that takes the welfare responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and the renewed calls for basic income as an entry point to examine the political and institutional drivers of social policy in South Africa. Hannah has previously worked in policy research, analysis and advocacy in the fields of development, socio-economic rights, and poverty and inequality in both research and civil society organisations.  

Arabo Ewinyu, Research Manager: Pre-Distribution and Ownership

Arabo Ewinyu is a Research Manager on the Pre-Distribution and Ownership project at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. Arabo has a Master of Commerce in Economics Degree from the University of Witwatersrand. Her research interests include Labour economics, poverty and inequality studies, Competition and Regulatory Economics. Prior to joining SCIS, Arabo worked as a consultant for over ten years where she gained experience in collecting, evaluating and analysing data and qualitative economic information for clients across diverse sectors of the economy.

Kitso Kgaboesele, Researcher: Communication and Engagement

Kitso Kgaboesele is a Communication and Engagement Researcher at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. She holds an MA in African Studies from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and is currently pursuing an MA in Media Studies at the Wits School of Journalism. Kitso has more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industry. She spent 11 years at the SABC where she worked as a news researcher and radio current affairs national copy editor.

Julia Taylor, Researcher: Climate and Inequality

Julia Taylor is a Researcher on Climate and Inequality at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. Previously, she was Researcher and Climate Policy Lead at the Institute for Economic Justice where she worked with labour unions on a vision for a Just Transition. Julia has previously worked at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator on impact and research, sustainability consulting, and eco-education. She holds a BCom from the University of Cape Town, a PGD in Sustainable Development from Stellenbosch University, and an MSc in Environment and Development from Edinburgh University. Julia recently completed a Master’s in Applied Development Economics at Wits University.

Thokozile Madonko, Research Manager: Public Economy

Thokozile Madonko is a researcher with the Public Economy Project. She is a Rhodes University alumna. Using her Master's in political theory, she has worked in the areas of climate justice, development cooperation, public finance with a focus on health financing and gender-responsive budgeting, national, subnational, and parliamentary governance, transparency, and accountability. 

Comfort Molefinyana, Associate Researcher: Wealth Inequality

Comfort Molefinyana is an Associate Researcher on the Wealth Inequality project. She holds a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Previously, she worked as a consultant conducting applied research in the public sector. She has contributed to implementation and impact evaluations including government management systems, public procurement, municipal tariffs, public employment programmes, agriculture, and health. Comfort has co-authored published work in public procurement (BBBEE) and the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG). She has a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree in Politics and Public Policy, and an honours degree in International Relations, both from the University of Cape Town. Her research interests include social and gender policy, inequality, and social protection.

Seipati Mokhema, Associate Researcher: Future of Work

Seipati Bianca Mokhema is an Associate Researcher with the Future of Work(ers). She holds a BSocSc in Development Studies and an MSc in Sociology, both from the North-West University. Seipati’s research interests lie in higher education and employment trends for young people, technological innovation’s impact on the future of work, cultural studies as well as emancipatory social sciences research methodologies. Before joining the SCIS, she worked as a junior researcher for the Human Sciences Research Council. She has published a book chapter on the #FeesMustFall student protest movement and an opinion piece on the poor leadership in South Africa.

Pauline Dhlamini, Research Coordinator

Pauline Dhlamini is a Research Coordinator at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. She has a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resources Management and an Advanced Diploma in Project Management. Pauline has extensive experience working in Human Resources, Operations, Finance, and Project Management. She previously worked for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), where she provided project management support for five years. She is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management at Cranefield College.

Siviwe Mhlana, Researcher: Inequality Studies

Siviwe Mhlana is a Researcher at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. She completed her MA in Social Policy and Labour Studies at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at Rhodes University. Her MA research explored the changing nature of labour-intensive production in post-Apartheid South Africa and the gendered individualisation of risk associated with non-standard, informal and precarious employment. In addition, Siviwe holds a Bachelor of Economics and a Bachelor of Economics Honours from Rhodes University. She has worked as a consultant for organisations such as the International Women's Health Coalition (IWHC) and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing. Currently, Siviwe serves on the board of the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ). She is also associated with the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU) at Rhodes University. Her research interests include international development, labour economics, social policy and gender. 

Dr Ujithra Ponniah, Post-Doctoral Fellow

Ujithra Ponniah is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS). She has a doctorate in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi (2018) and a Masters in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. She has taught papers in the sociology of caste, gender, labor, development and social movements at undergraduate and masters levels. She has also worked with national and international research organizations and state governments on issues of food and nutritional security of indigenous groups, agrarian land relations and Dalit political leadership. Her research interests include economic elites and inequalities of caste and gender. At SCIS, she will be working on her book manuscript and developing the sociological elite lens to understand wealth inequality in South Africa.     

Sky Konrad, Finance Accountant

Sky Konrad is a Finance Accountant at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. Driven by a passion for people, numbers, and systems, she works strategically with the goal of improving workplace systems and increasing efficiency in operations. Through her work, she provides deep insights that aid good governance and corporate citizenry for improved decision-making in organisations. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting Sciences (Unisa) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration (Wits Business School). Sky also has a keen interest in Monitoring & Evaluation.

Nthabiseng Mofokeng, Administrative Officer

Nthabiseng Mofokeng is an Administration Officer for the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS) in the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at Wits University. She has a BA Media Studies degree from Wits and worked in the media industry for more than six years. She started working for the university in 2016, at the Faculty of CLM finance department, as the personal assistant to the Business Manager. She is currently an occasional student, studying sociology.

Jabulane Mulambo, Communications Officer

Jabulane Mulambo is a Communications Officer at the Southern Centre For Inequality Studies. He is a Chevening alumnus and holds a Masters of Arts in New Media from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. Prior to joining SCIS, Jabulane worked for the Centre for Learning on Evaluation and Results- Anglophone Africa as a Communications Associate. Before that, he served as a Media and External Communications Officer at the National Treasury of South Africa. 

Katrina Lehmann-Grube, Associate Researcher: Climate and Inequality

Katrina Lehmann-Grube is an Associate Researcher on the Climate Change and Inequality Project at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. She holds a BSc in Applied Biology, Ecology and Evolution from the University of Cape Town, and an MSc in Environment, Politics and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). She has also recently started a Ph.D. at the Environmental Humanities South research unit at the University of Cape Town. She has worked in a range of civil society and research roles at the intersection of environment and social justice, including at the Wild Law Institute, the Institute for Economic Justice, and the Independent Redress Mechanism of the Green Climate Fund.

Nina Layton, Personal Assistant

Nina Layton is appointed Personal Assistant to the Director of SCIS, Prof Imraan Valodia.  She has extensive experience in administration in government and is striving to ensure that the office is providing efficient services to all its stakeholders.

Niall Reddy, Researcher: Pre-Distribution and Ownership

Niall Reddy is a Researcher on the Pre-Distribution and Ownership Project. He has a BSc in Economics from the University of Cape Town, a Master's in Political Economy from Kingston University and Paris13. In addition to this, he holds a Master's Degree in Sociology from New York University, and he is completing a Ph.D. dissertation in the same department. Prior to undertaking graduate studies, Niall worked as a researcher and educator for the Alternative Information Development Centre in Cape Town. He has worked on a diverse range of topics in the field of political economy including financialization, growth models and demand regimes and the politics of elites. His work has appeared in Socio-Economic Review, The Review of Keynesian Economics, Jacobin Magazine, among others.

Dr Buntu Siwisa, Senior Researcher

Buntu Siwisa is a Senior Researcher at the Southern Centre for Inequality Studies. With a D. Phil. In Politics and International Relations from the University of Oxford (St. Peter’s College), he has varied work experiences in academia (Politics and International relations), civil service (Foreign relations in southern Africa), and civil society (Peace and Security in Africa; conflict analysis and management). He has also specialised in BRICS in relation to peace, security, and development in southern Africa. More recently, he has ventured into the history of non-racial sports in South Africa, publishing Rugby, Resistance and Politics: How Dan Qeqe Helped Shape the History of Port Elizabeth, (2022 November; Jacana Media, Johannesburg). He is also co-editing a book on the histories of black rugby in South Africa, Making Rugby an Afrikan Game: Decolonial Narratives on the Origins, Cultures and Politics, 1886 – 1996. His current research interests are on border security management in South Africa and the sub-region – the interface between illicit activities in border areas, and fragile state institutions, and the types of violence, conflicts, instabilities, and inequalities that emerge out of these interactions.