College of Law

Dr Phumudzo Munyai is his only competition right now

Dr Phumudzo Munyai (Senior Lecturer in Competition, Trade Marks & International Trade Law at Unisa’s Department of Mercantile Law) hopes his achievement will position Unisa as a leader in competition law.

Unisa Law academic, Dr Phumudzo Munyai, has become the first South African (black or white) to obtain a PhD in Competition Law in the country.

A senior lecturer in Competition, Trade Marks & International Trade Law at Unisa’s Department of Mercantile Law, Munyai said he feels absolutely proud right now. “Most academics take pride in their contribution to the body of knowledge in their field and to society at large. I am also the same. But the joy and excitement is perhaps greater when the research or contribution is ground-breaking or has some milestone attached to it. While I am someone who, by nature, is not inclined to dwell on an achievement, because there is always more to be done, I also appreciate what my achievement means to my family, especially my mother, who raised me while working as a domestic worker,” he said.

So why did he choose competition law as his area of specialty? Munyai explained that even though he loves law, he is unashamedly a closet economist. “Competition law offers a good combination of both as it is 45% law and 55% economics. Working as a lecturer and researcher in competition law, I have never felt, at any point, that I have had to ‘make it through my day’. Instead, I enjoy what I do and I am deeply immersed in it,” Munyai shared.

With Unisa intent on shaping futures, Munyai is proud that this achievement is adding to the betterment of this university. Additionally, his future too is being shaped by this achievement. He pointed out that universities thrive on the quality of the works of their academics in teaching, research and community engagement. “I hope my achievement can position Unisa as a leader in competition law. Personally, I also hope that I can count on the university’s support in developing a fully-fledged competition law master’s degree, which we currently don’t have, and establishing a Competition Law Unit, both of which will help position Unisa as a leader in this field.”

Munyai felt it was appropriate to note that competition policy and law is assuming central importance in government’s plans for economic development. “It is the only field of law identified in the National Development Plan 2030 as ‘central’ for our country’s economic development. Universities like Unisa should be able to respond appropriately by providing training and producing research that responds to this important national need,” he urged.

Munyai believes his journey and achievements are not his alone. “I would like to thank my promoter, Prof Roshana Kelbrick, whose dedication and commitment to my work and vision was not only outstanding, but perhaps also exemplary. The calibre of postgraduate supervision influences a university’s success rate in postgraduate throughput and the quality of the research report itself. It is in this sense that the impending retirement of Professor Kelbrick this year will be a great loss for Unisa,” he said.

Hardin Ratshisusu, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Competition Commission of South Africa, has expressed his excitement at Munyai’s achievement and support too. “His current position as a university academic is of great strategic significance for the propaganda of competition law knowledge and skills in South Africa,  and it will enable him to supervise more master’s and doctoral students in competition law. A number of our staff members have already expressed their interest in registering for their master’s and doctoral degrees in competition law, under his supervision, which we greatly encourage and will provide the necessary support, where appropriate,” said Ratshisusu.

As a student, Munyai received various awards and recognition for outstanding performances from the various universities he studied at including the University of Venda’s Vice-Chancellor’s Merit award for two years running (2001 and 2002) and the University of Pretoria’s Dean’s List of Merit (2003). Despite his youth, Munyai has published extensively in the fields of competition, consumer and international trade laws. He has played an important role in the development of the body of knowledge in his main area of expertise, which is competition law. His PhD thesis has been described as a ‘seminal work’ in abuse of dominance law. He has also advised foreign governments and has spoken at various international forums across the globe.

*By Kirosha Naicker

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