’A career in Economics never crossed my mind when I was in high school’

Dr Nemushongwa – Lecturer – Department of Economics – Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law

While many fields remain male-dominated, including economics, Dr Azwifaneli Nemushungwa, who is passionate about empowering women through education, encourages women to fill these roles as they are equally capable. 

“It takes one to simply put their mind to something and when they do this, the world becomes full of great opportunities”, she said. Globally, the field of Economics postgraduate studies remains highly male-dominated. This can be partly attributed to limited exposure for women in economics-related professions and few role models available to them. The field has, however, witnessed several South African women taking courageous steps forward recently. One such individual is Dr Azwifaneli Nemushungwa. 

Dr Nemushungwa was born in Pimville, Soweto where she spent her early years, and started her schooling journey at Ha-Mutsha primary school, then proceeded to Matshele Higher Primary School. She then completed her Matric studies at Lwamondo Secondary school. Dr Nemushongwa is currently working as a lecturer in the Department of Economics, under the Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law, at the University of Venda, since 2007. 

Prior to joining the University of Venda, she was a high school educator under the Department of Education, where she taught Economics amongst several other subjects, ‘’A career in economics never crossed my mind when I was in high school. Neither did I know what I wanted to study owing to lack of formal career guidance when I arrived at the University. Randomly, I chose to do a Bachelor of Commerce degree and in retrospect, I think this decision was one of the best I ever made. After completion of my undergraduate degree, my passion for economics had already been ignited,’’ Nemushungwa said. 

‘’As a black woman who was previously disadvantaged, I am proud to have obtained a master’s degree in Economics in the early 2000s. This was during the period when it was rare to find a black woman, especially from a rural area, pursuing a higher degree in Economics ‘’ she added. In 2021, she obtained her PhD degree in Economics from Nelson Mandela University. The attainment of this degree will help to change the mindset, especially amongst some, that a PhD in Economics, particularly in the branch of econometrics, is not a space for women. “I, therefore, believe that this will inspire other women to follow in my footsteps.’’ 

“I have always found Economics fascinating as a social subject that deals with daily topical issues. Growing up, I was very inquisitive as to how the world works and how the different parts fit together. Economics has therefore helped me to better understand that”, says Doctor Nemushungwa. 

Due to her deep passion of Economics, Dr Nemushungwa has dedicated herself to educating and empowering the nation through analysing economic issues. Since 2018, she has been a voice to the nation as she analyses issues in almost all radio stations. In 2020, she became the voice of the nation as she would be interviewed for more than 5 times a day and as people were confined in their homes, the message managed to reach multitudes. 

Being the only woman analyst in a male-dominated environment, this portrays that there is a gap in analysis space that needs to be filled. “I have always strived to be a continuous learner with a deep passion for economics, especially within the South African context and its effects on the everyday life of ordinary South Africans.’’ She 

continued to explain that, with the platform she has as an analyst, this has allowed her to provide insightful commentary to a wide variety of audiences. 

She advises those wishing to be future analysts to understand what needs to be analysed. That is, the problem that needs to be addressed, the objectives, or the questions that need to be answered. ‘’Knowing your audience and key facts they need to know is crucial.’’, she stated 

She highlighted that a good analyst should have critical thinking skills; the ability to see both sides of the argument by making a balanced argument; the ability to constantly learn and try to acquire more knowledge of your discipline and from other disciplines, since disciplines are often interconnected, and the ability to present information in a simple and coherent way. 

As a way of fostering the University’s strategic thrust of transforming into an entrepreneurial University (through using of the strategic mechanism of inculcating an entrepreneurial culture, to strengthen the University’s involvement in local and regional development as well as to promote enterprise development, amongst others), Nemushungwa is fully involved in entrepreneurial activities led by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Robert Martin, the Director Community Engagement, Professor Vhonani Netshandama and the Director Institute for Rural Development, Professor Joseph Francis. 

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 25 August 2022 

Skip to content