Prof S Mnwana

Head of Department
Sociology & Anthropology
Contact Details: 
043-704 7175

Professor  Sonwabile Mnwana is Associate Professor of Sociology and Head of Department at the University of Fort Hare. He is the former deputy director of the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP), University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Johannesburg. He is also a research associate at SWOP (Wits). He holds a PhD in Social Sciences. He also held a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town. Broadly, his research focuses on meanings of land, large scale natural resource extraction and rural social change. For many years he has led the execution of a detailed study which investigated the multiple impacts of platinum mining on rural communities in the North West and Limpopo provinces. This research has been published in various academic and public platforms. He has also taught several sociology and education modules at the University of Fort Hare University, University of Cape Town and Wits University. He is a former President of the South African Sociological Association (2016-2017).

Research Interests: 

Land, mining and rural social change. He is also leading a project in Mineral Wealth and Politics of Distribution on the Platinum Belt, Land, Natural Resources and Distributive Struggles in South Africa’s Rural Extractive Frontiers


Theories of Industrial Society, Classical Sociological Theory, Theories of Rural Development, and Environment and Society

NB: Selected Publications   


  • Mnwana, S. 2019. In C. Huggins (ed). ‘Custom’ and Fractured ‘Community’: Mining, Property Disputes and Law on the Platinum Belt, South Africa. Property Rights and Governance in Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining: Critical Approaches, First Edition. Routledge. This edited volume will be out on June 20, 2019.
  • Mnwana, S. 2019. Chiefs, land and distributive struggles on the platinum belt, South Africa. In M. Buthelezi, D Skosana, and B. Vale (Eds). Traditional Leaders in a Democracy: Resources, Respect and Resistance. The Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA). Jacana Press. Johannesbug
  • Mnwana, S. and Bowman A. 2018. Mine mechanisation and distributional conflict in rural South Africa. Resources Policy59(C), 227-237.
  • Mnwana, S.  2018. Private property? The historicity of village struggles over land and mining revenues in Rural South Africa. A book chapter submitted to the edited book volume: The Future of Mining in South Africa. The Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA). Jacana Press.
  • Mnwana, S. 2018. Mining, rural struggles and inequality on the platinum belt, South Africa. A chapter in the New South African Review 6. Wits University Press, Johannesburg. 
  • Mnwana, S. 2018. A Radical Mineral Policy with Retribalisation? Mining and Politics of Difference in Rural South Africa. A chapter contribution to an edited book volume entitled: Extractive Industries and Changing State Dynamics in Africa: Beyond the Resource Curse. Routledge.
  • Mnwana, S. and Moyo, M. 2018 Mining, the youth and distributive struggles in rural South Africa. In Good Company: conversations around transparency and accountability in south africa’s extractive sector, Third Edition. An edited volume published by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa.
  • Mnwana, S. 2016. ‘Custom’ and Fractured ‘Community’: Mining, Property Disputes and Law on the Platinum Belt, South Africa. Third World Thematics: A TWQ Journal, 1,2: 218-234.
  • Mnwana, S. 2015. ‘Between ‘Locals’ and ‘Foreigners’: Mining and rural politics of belonging in North West province, South Africa. Labour, Capital and Society 48:1&2:7: 158-181.
  • Mnwana, S. 2015. Democracy, development and chieftaincy along South Africa’s ‘Platinum Highway’: Some emerging issues. Journal of Contemporary African Studies. 33(4) 510-52.
  • Capps, G., Mnwana, S. 2015. Claims from below: Platinum and the politics of land in the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela traditional authority area. Review of African Political Economy 42 (146), 606-624.
  • Zeng Z., Mnwana, S. 2015. Improvisational Songs from Hearts: Traditions and Structure of Xhosa Praise Poetry. Forum for World Literature Studies, 7 (3) 472-481.
  • Mnwana, S., 2015. Mining and ‘community’ struggles on the platinum belt: A case of Sefikile village in the North West Province, South Africa. The Extractive Industries and Society, 2: 500–508.
  • Mnwana S., 2014. Chief’s Justice? Mining, Accountability and the Law in the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela Traditional Authority Area, North West Province. South African Crime Quarterly, 49, 21-29. 
  • Mnwana S., 2014. Mineral wealth – “in the name of morafe”? Community control in South Africa's ‘Platinum Valley’. Development Southern Africa, 31:6, 826-842.
  • Mnwana, S. 2013. Are communities benefitting from mining? Bafokeng and Bakgatla cases. South Africa Labour Bulletin,Vol. 37, no.3.
  •  Mnwana, S and Capps, G. 2015 New rural struggles on the platinum belt, South Africa Labour Bulletin, Vol.39 no. 2 April/May 2015, pages 30-34.
  • Mnwana, S and Capps, G. 2015 Lesethleng Modimo Mmalo, South Africa Labour Bulletin, Vol.39 no. 3 June/July 2015, pages 30-34.
  • Mnwana, S and Capps, G. 2015 Motlhabe: ba-Kgafela or ba—kautlwale, South Africa Labour Bulletin, Vol.39 no. 3 June/July 2015, pages 35-38.


  • Forthcoming:


  • Beinart, W., Mnwana, S., and Wotshela, L. Land Reform, Rural Inequality and Agrarian Change:  The Case of Isidenge, Stutterheim, Eastern Cape. An article submitted to the  Transformation. Currently under peer review.  
  • Critical perspectives on Southern Africa 


  • b. Commissioned Papers and Research Reports:


  • Mnwana, S., Mtero, F. Hay, M. 2016. Dispossessing The Dispossessed? Mining And Rural Struggles In Mokopane, Limpopo, South Africa. SWOP Working Paper 7, published in September 2016.
  • Mnwana, S. 2018. Chiefs, Land and Distributive Struggles on the Platinum Belt: A Case of Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela in the North West Province, South Africa. A Working Paper commissioned by MISTRA.,-Land-and-Distributive-Struggles-on-the-Platinum-Belt-by-Sonwabile-Mnwana.aspx


C. Opinions Pieces/Popular Media