Dr Nokukhanya Jili’s PhD study focused on the issue of pro-poor local economic development (LED) through a case study of King Cetshwayo District Municipality (KCD).
Supervised by Professor Thokozani Nzimakwe, it investigated how the implementation and sustainability of LED initiatives is organised, assessed, and reviewed in KCD. This research was founded on the theoretical framework of the World Bank Local Economic Development model that involves several stages of LED strategic planning.
Jili interviewed municipal officials including the mayor, the municipal manager and LED officials in two local municipalities in the district. She also interviewed community members and community organisations.
The findings show that LED in KCD is conceptualised as a form of partnership or coalition between the key actors in a local municipality and involves co-operation between the private sector, government and civil society.
A three-year delay did not deter Jili from completing her study. The original plan was to start in 2013 but she was unable to find a supervisor until 2016, when she finally registered.
Jili said that, although she travelled a long and stressful road, the journey was made bearable by the constant guidance of her supervisor and the support of her family and community in Ixopo who are extremely proud of her achievement.
‘This qualification will open more doors for me as a young emerging lecturer. It will also assist me to grow as an academic as it qualifies me to apply for senior positions,’ she added.
The 33-year-old is currently the Acting Head of the Department of Public Administration at the University of Zululand and has published numerous articles in accredited journals. She is currently supervising nine masters and three PhD students.
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga
Photograph: Abhi Indrarajan