Thabi Leoka's PhD: South African President Ramaphosa Removes Adviser

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has removed a prominent economist from an advisory panel amidst questions about her PhD.

Thabi Leoka claimed to have received her PhD from the London School of Economics (LSE), but journalists from Business Day and Daily Maverick were unable to verify this. Last week, Ms. Leoka denied any misrepresentation regarding her qualifications. However, on Monday, she resigned from the boards of two prominent companies.

Anglo American Platinum Limited, a mining firm, announced Ms. Leoka’s resignation from her non-executive director position, citing her need to focus on her health and address questions about her academic credentials. Similarly, mobile phone company MTN SA released a statement echoing these sentiments.

On the same day, Vincent Magwenya, spokesperson for President Ramaphosa, informed Ms. Leoka of her immediate termination from the Presidential Economic Advisory Council. He clarified that membership in the council does not require formal vetting and that its role is to advise on policies for inclusive economic growth.

In response to inquiries from the Daily Maverick, Ms. Leoka explained that she had been preoccupied and had not had the opportunity to obtain her degree certificate due to her health issues. She also mentioned that her name on her degrees differed from her current name, having changed it from Bathabile in 2018, as reported by South Africa’s News24 website.

When approached by press, the LSE stated that they could not find any record of Thabi or Bathabile Leoka being awarded a PhD from their institution. Ms. Leoka, who has gained recognition as a commentator and economist in South Africa, has been involved in advising the government and serving on multiple boards.

Piers Potter


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