PhD student in Development Studies, Ms Nonkululeko Zondo recently presented her research at the 10th Annual Sustainable Development in the Minerals Industry (SDIMI) Conference held in Africa for the first time in Windhoek, Namibia.
The conference examined and discussed a range of critical issues facing the extractive sector, including mining in sensitive areas, water and energy scarcity, active artisanal and small-scale mining, the need for capacity building, fair trade practices, and opportunities for value-added production.
Zondo’s research is informed by critical development research methodologies and ‘seeks to document the lived realities of small-scale and artisanal mining communities. It further interrogates issues around mineral resource governance for both mining communities and mining-affected communities and the gendered and racialised dynamics of land and mineral resource struggles in South Africa’.
Zondo has contributed to several strategic documents at a provincial and national level, such as the KwaZulu-Natal Digital Transformation Strategy (2020-2025). She has worked with the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and contributed to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), focusing on land reform and other important governance issues in the country.
In 2019, Zondo was part of the Bergen Summer Research School (BSRS) in Norway. The programme was composed of researchers from all over the world participating in six parallel disciplinary courses with focus on critical global challenges including climate change and mobility; governance and inequality; economic experiments in developing countries; higher education and the arts; food security; and gender, justice and environmental crises.
She regards her latest feat as an important milestone in her research career as it was not only her first international experience, but also capacitated her with fundamental skills to align her research with global challenges and helped stimulate her wider thinking.
Zondo has also worked as a Youth Advisory Panellist for the United Nations Population Fund. She currently serves as a Research Practitioner (independent contractor) for the Moses Kotane Institute, a research entity under the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.