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Jana Frey | 28.09.2018 | 397 Aufrufe | Interviews

Itai Makone: A Critical Assessment of the Conceptualization of Political Risk Analysis for Hybrid Regimes: The Case of Zimbabwe

Lisa Maskell Fellowships at Stellenbosch University, South Africa

In 2014, the Gerda Henkel Foundation initiated a scholarship programme supporting young humanities scholars from Africa and Southeast Asia in honour of the foundation's founder, Lisa Maskell. It is the largest international support programme for PhD students in the history of the Foundation. The Lisa Maskell Fellowships aim to strengthen universities in the partner countries, to counter the outflow of qualified young scholars and to ensure the doctoral students enjoy excellent academic training.

In the following months, L.I.S.A. will publish interviews with the Lisa Maskell Fellows from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, in which they will talk about their research projects as well as their experiences during their academic career and the Lisa Maskell fellowship.

This week, we welcome Itai Makone from Zimbabwe. After graduating from the University of Zimbabwe, she started her PhD in Political Science with the thesis A Critical Assessment of the Conceptualization of Political Risk Analysis for Hybrid Regimes: The Case of Zimbabwe at Stellenbosch University in 2017.

Itai Makone from Zimbabwe

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L.I.S.A.: What is the status of the humanities in Zimbabwe, your home country?

Itai Makone: The Humanities as represented by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Zimbabwe usually account for the highest number of students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree every year. This is the same for most state-owned universities. The Humanities absorb the largest number of students enrolling at the advanced level.

"A mammoth task to conduct research and to publish in reputable journals"

L.I.S.A.: Have you ever encountered problems in the realization of your academic career?

Itai Makone: The greatest challenge so far has been that of funding. Access to funding for academic projects in Zimbabwe has been constrained over the last 10 years hence making it a mammoth task to conduct research and to publish in reputable journals.

The other challenge perhaps has been that I had not created a wide pool of networks and synergies with other accomplished and polished researchers. This compromises the quality of any individuals’ potential research output. Creating networks and synergies helps polish and sharpen research output and ideas.

"What has changed, and what is continuing to change with regards to political risk analysis"

L.I.S.A.: What is your PhD project about and what got you interested in the chosen topic to begin with?

Itail Makone: My research is primarily about analysing how political risk analysis is conceptualised in hybrid regimes. My study focuses on Zimbabwe as the hybrid case study. My study critically accesses what hybrid regimes are, their make up and it creates a conceptual framework to analyse the hybrid regime. It also critically assesses the literature on political risk analyses, it takes a historical lens at analysing political risk and prescribes what has changed, and what is continuing to change with regards to political risk analysis. The study then combines the two concepts and analyses if political risk analysis in hybrid regimes has changed or whether the perceptions of political risk analysis in hybrid are still the same. I got interested in political risk when I interacted with my current supervisor. This steered an interest in me to investigate this topic.

"The social interaction has given me a glimpse of the world"

L.I.S.A.: What has your experience at Stellenbosch been like? Have there been any differences to the University of Zimbabwe and possibly other institutions you have previously attended?

Itai Makone: I have had a wonderful experience at Stellenbosch University and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a student at there.

Stellenbosch has an office that assists Master’s and Doctoral students as well as staff members called the Postgraduate Office. The greatest advantage that I have immensely benefitted from are the programmes and activities that have been organised by the postgraduate centre. When I leave Stellenbosch, I will not only have acquired my doctoral degree, but I will have increased my capacity in many soft skills. Some of the programmes and trainings that I have benefitted from are, MS WORD, MS PowerPoint, Mendeley training, increasing my research output, scientific writing among many trainings offered every month by the Postgraduate Office.

Secondly, Stellenbosch University has a huge drive to expose the students to as much exposure as possible. In almost every department, weekly departmental seminars are held. This is almost the same with the university I previously attended, the major difference is that Stellenbosch University will ensure that they bring the experts of the subject matter to the university. In the department of Political Science we are exposed to as many top-notch academics and experts as possible each week. This has also helped me to create networks and synergies with other academics.

Thirdly, Stellenbosch emphasises on research output and they have put in place structures, funding, trainings to ensure that students publish in reputable journals.

Fourthly, Stellenbosch university is home to many cultures. I am not well travelled outside Southern Africa. But because Stellenbosch University attracts people from all over the world, I can say the social interaction has given me a glimpse of the world in general. When I do travel, I have many people to visit across the globe.

"[In Zimbabwe] only a few people across different disciplines pursue PhDs using local universities"

L.I.S.A.: What are the opportunities in Zimbabwe to pursue different degree options (BA/MA/PhD)?

Itai Makone: There are ten state universities and seven private universities in Zimbabwe, this means education is widely accessible if one has the finances. A Bachelor’s degree is easier to attain, a Master’s degree is more competitive to acquire than a Bachelors. The universities have the capacity to impart knowledge and skills for Bachelor’s and Master’s level. To attain a PhD is more challenging because the institutions experience human capital constraints and funding challenges. Hence only a few people across different disciplines pursue PhDs using local universities.

"I endeavour to go back to Zimbabwe"

L.I.S.A.: What are your plans concerning your future career once you have obtained your PhD?

Itai Makone: I endeavour to go back to Zimbabwe; my first option would be to develop a career path in academia if the institutions in Zimbabwe can absorb me. I enjoy teaching and imparting knowledge and skills. My second option is to be a researcher at a research institute. The PhD process has enhanced my research skills and it would be a pleasure to use the skills I have acquired to earn a living. Thirdly, I can work at any Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) or development agency.

Itai Makone has answered the questions in written form.

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