Dr. Sithembile Mbete

Dr. Sithembile Mbete is a lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria where she lecturers international relations and South African politics. She is also an Associate Fellow of the Centre for Governance Innovation (GovInn) at the University of Pretoria. She has a doctorate from the University of Pretoria on the subject of South Africa’s foreign policy during its two elected terms in the United Nations Security Council (2007-2008 and 2011-2012). She has published on the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) in accredited journals. Her research has been funded by the National Institute for Humanities and Social Science (NIHSS), National Research Foundation (NRF), the American Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the Mellon Foundation. In 2014 she was a visiting scholar at the Department of Political Science and Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Sithembile is a 2019 Open Society Foundation Democracy Fellow. She is part of an international study group on the rise of populism across the world.

She comments frequently in the media on a range of issues in South African politics and international politics. She has appeared in local and international media including eNCA, SABC, Kaya FM, BBC, NPR, the Mail and Guardian, The Financial Times and the New York Times.

Sithembile joined the University of Pretoria from The Presidency of South Africa where she was a researcher in the secretariat of the National Planning Commission. She contributed to the drafting of the National Development Plan in the areas of public service reform, anti-corruption policy and community safety. Prior to this she worked as a political researcher at IDASA (Institute for Democracy in Africa) where she was responsible for Parliamentary monitoring and political analysis. While at Idasa she monitored the parliamentary deliberations on the Protection of State Information Bill (POSIB), commenting on and writing about the bill in the media. She served on the provincial and national working groups of the Right2Know Campaign and helped coordinate activism against the legislation.



Selected Publications:


Mbete, S. 2018. “Moving on up? Opposition Parties and Political Change in South Africa.” HBS Perspectives. Heinrich Boll Stiftung.

Mbete, S. 2016. “Assessing the performance of the Economic Freedom Fighters in the 2016 Municipal Election” South African Journal for Public Administration

Mbete, S. 2015. “The Economic Freedom Fighters: South Africa’s turn towards Populism?” Journal of African Elections.

Mbete, S. 2014. “SA Elections 2014: Performance of New Parties”. EISA South Africa Election Updates 2014, Issue 9.

Mbete, S. 2014. “Form over substance? Evaluating the EFF”. Kujenga Amani.

Kariem, A., and Mbete, S. 2012. “Building a Future for South Africa’s Youth”, Transformation Audit 2012, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

Sylvester, J and Mbete, S. 2011. “The 2011 LGE: Separating the Reality from the Spin”, Idasa Politics Brief.


Papers and Conference Presentations:


“Stuck in the Middle? South Africa’s foreign policy in the United Nations Security Council in a changing world order” at the South African Association of Political Studies Conference, October 2018.

“Out with the old, in with the new? The ANC and EFF’s battle to represent the South African ‘people’” at “I Am A People: The Performance and Cross-Regional Praxis of Populism”, University of Oregon, October 2017.

“The politics of global governance and the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture” at the  African Studies Association for Africa Conference 2017, University of Ghana, Legon, October 2017.

“The EFF: Has the party extended beyond personal appeal” at the Redefining The Electoral and scape Colloquium hosted by The Institute For Pan-African Political Thought And Conversation and University of Johannesburg Department of Politics and International Relations, August 2016.

“Youth participation in South African elections”. Paper presented at the Ambassador’s Breakfast, University of Pretoria, July 2016.

“Power and Resistance in the UN Security Council: Lessons from South Africa’s elected terms in the UNSC, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012”. Paper presented at The World Social Science Forum 2015 “Transforming Global Relations for a just World”, September 2015.

“Rethinking South Africa’s Identity” at a workshop hosted by the the University of Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Studies, May 2015.

“Understanding South Africa’s first term on the UNSC.” Paper presented at a symposium on the topic of South Africa in the United Nations hosted by the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria, July 2013.

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2023. All rights reserved.

COVID-19 Corona Virus South African Resource Portal

To contact the University during the COVID-19 lockdown, please send an email to [email protected]

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences