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Professor Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu

UKZN Town Planning lecturer Professor Hangwelani Magidimisha-Chipungu has been appointed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as a member of the National Planning Commission (NPC) for the next five years.

The Commission is expected to initiate ideas and provide insight into a long-term plan to advance growth and development in South Africa.

Magidimisha-Chipungu joins 28 other new members of the commission who include doctors, professors and specialists in the technology, political and financial sectors.  Minister in the Presidency Mr Mondli Gungubele was named as chairperson of the NPC for the next five years.

Discussing her appointment, Magidimisha-Chipungu said: “I am humbled by the recognition. It has always been my dream to serve my country at the highest level so I am really grateful to UKZN for providing me with a platform to be recognised for the task.

‘What’s interesting is that my appointment was made in the aftermath of the successful hosting last month of the 56th and 57th International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP) congresses in Doha where I was a co-General Rapporteur and received the society’s Bronze Award on behalf of UKZN. I feel that recognition indicates I am capable and more than prepared to successfully serve at whatever level I am mandated to do so. I am honoured by the appointment on the NPC where I will always put the interests of my country first,’ she said.

The new NPC will operate against the challenging backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic with economic and social recovery and reconstruction the priorities on the path towards building momentum for the achievement of the National Development Plan’s 2030 goals.

Magidimisha-Chipungu is the youngest ever SARChI Chair in Inclusive Cities. The Chair, funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and South African City Networks, supports research into spatial, economic and social inclusion within South African cities.

She is an avid researcher evidenced by her study and publications history which includes being the author and co-author of a variety of chapters in books as well as peer-reviewed journal articles. She  published a book this year titled: Urban Inclusivity in Southern Africa, which is part of her on-going research into urban inclusivity which falls under the ambit of  her SARChI Chair research mandate.

She is also the founder and Chief Editor of the Journal for Inclusive Cities and the Built Environment published out of UKZN and received the 2020 Vice-Chancellor’s Research Award last year.

Magidimisha-Chipungu has served on the City Planning Commission for the eThekwini Municipality tasked with a strategic responsibility of advising the municipality’s Executive Committee and councillors.

She has also served on the advisory committee of the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA-KZN) association with a focus on spatial equity in the province, and is a board member of SACPLAN – a national professional body that governs the teaching and practice of town planning in South Africa. As a professional town planner, she has been on the KwaZulu-Natal Tribunal which was mandated to resolve town planning disputes in the province. 

Magidimisha-Chipungu is internationally recognised. Emerging from a position of Chairperson of a local organising committee for Young Professional Planners, she completed a two-year appointment as a co-General Rapporteur for the 56th and 57th ISOCARP congresses. 

The Planner, a magazine published by the Royal Institute of Town Planning in the United Kingdom, recognised her as a Woman of Influence in 2020 after which she was invited by the of University of Politecnico di Milan DAStU in Florence, Italy, to participate in the research on spatial planning and a 24-hour city.

Magidimisha- Chipungu, who was recently appointed to the Board of Pan – African Scholars-Practitioners chaired by Professor Patrick Lumumba, adds that she sees her appointment as not only a milestone for the University but also as inspiration for the younger generation.

Words: Melissa Mungroo