Kevin Ritchie, Analyst & Writer, Kevin Ritchie & Associates

Kevin Ritchie is a former editor of the Star newspaper, now media consultant, trainer and writer. Currently writes a weekly syndicated opinion column for the Saturday Star and Independent online. Co-authored A-Z of South African Politics (Jacana 2019).

Colonel Lionel Dyck, Head, Dyck Advisory Group

After a military career spanning 26 years Colonel Lionel Dyck established MineTech International, which grew to be one of the largest suppliers of demining, explosive ordnance disposal and specialised security dog providers on the globe. Utilising his global contacts and supporting organizations as well as his wealth of experience in planning and implementing solutions operations in a broad spectrum of activities Colonel Dyck has established a new consulting organisation, the Dyck Advisory Group, to continue offering world class innovative solutions to selected clientele.

Liesl Louw-Vaudran, Senior Researcher and Project Leader, Institute for Security Studies

Liesl Louw-Vaudran is a Senior Researcher and Project Leader for Southern Africa at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). She is also the editor of the ISS’ monthly publication on the African Union Peace and Security Council, the PSC Report. Liesl is also a Non-Executive Board Member of the In Transformation Initiative, a not-for-profit organization focused on peacemaking. Liesl is a former journalist and has travelled and worked in many countries in Africa over the past 25 years. These include Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Senegal, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is a regular commentator on African issues in local and international media. Her book on South African foreign policy, ‘South Africa in Africa: Superpower or Neocolonialist?’ was published by Tafelberg in 2016. Liesl has a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Pretoria. She has lectured in journalism at the University of Stellenbosch and is a member of the judging panel of the annual Sikuvile Standard Bank media awards. She is also a former Chairperson of the Board of the Alliance Française of Johannesburg and was awarded the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019.

Zenaida Machado, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch

Zenaida Machado is the Angola and Mozambique senior researcher in the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. Before joining Human Rights Watch in 2015, Zenaida worked as a journalist at the BBC World Service where she produced radio and television flagship shows such as Focus on Africa and Network Africa. She has two decades of experience as a multi-media journalist, political analyst and researcher covering African countries, including her home country Mozambique, where she helped establish Radio Mozambique’s first news website. Machado has a master’s degree in Media and Development from the University of Westminster and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Eduardo Mondlane and holds various diplomas from internationally-recognized journalism institutions. Zenaida speaks English and Portuguese.

Dino Mahtani, African Programme Deputy Director, International Crisis Group

Dino Mahtani is currently deputy director for the Africa Programme at the conflict prevention organisation International Crisis Group, developing and shaping research agenda and acting as chief editor for the programme’s publications. He was previously a senior political advisor in a UN peacekeeping operation, and investigator for the UN Security Council on sanctions violations notably financial and material assistance to armed groups. Mahtani has also worked on several high-level anti-corruption and weapons smuggling investigations for various NGO’s. He started his career as a foreign correspondent in Africa, and on the oil and gas beat.

Johann Smith, Director, Heracles Consulting

Johann Smith holds a master’s degree in security studies. He had a career of 17 years in the SADF and served as South African Defence Attaché in Angola. As a political and security risk analyst he advised several multi-national companies operating in high-risk environments in Africa on managing their risk. He acted as security advisor to several Heads of State in Africa and spent 7 years in Kosovo in the Balkans, involved in the development of Kosovo statehood advising the Kosovo Presidency on conflict resolution and reconciliation, whilst lobbying for the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state. He moved to Mozambique in 2014 and served in an advisory capacity to multi-national companies in especially the mining and oil and gas sector. He has been monitoring the insurgency in Cabo Delgado Province since the start thereof in 2017 and has an in-depth knowledge of the current security situation in the Region.

Kobus Marais, Shadow Minister for Defence and Military Veterans, Democratic Alliance

Kobus Marais has been a Member of Parliament for the Democratic Alliance (DA) since 2006 and is the current Shadow Minister on Defence and Military Veterans. Mr Marais has been an active Member of both Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans as well as the Joint Standing Committee on Defence since the Fifth Parliament. His objective is not to know everything defence and military related but surround himself with a “brain-trust” who might know more than he does, and with whom he can consult on a continual basis. He wants to play a significant role in the public domain to develop and create a SANDF which we can be proud of, and which can successfully fight off the current and future challenges and dangers against South Africa and people living in South Africa. He previously served as the DA Spokesperson in various sectors, including Finance, Trade and Industry, Economic Development and Public Service and Administration. He holds both a B.Econ, Hons.B (B&A) degree and an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch.

Anton Mifsud-Bonnici, Member of the Advisory Board, Marlow Strategy

Anton Mifsud-Bonnici is an ESG master strategist and a business and human rights expert. He advises gas, oil and mining businesses in Russia, Middle East and Africa. He currently serves on the Strategic Review Commission of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative.

Borges Nhamirre, Research Consultant, Institute for Security Studies

Borges Nhamirre is a journalist and researcher with over 10 years of experience in Mozambican politics and governance. He holds a degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Higher Institute of International Relations, Maputo and a Law degree from the School of Law, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo. His recent work experience includes: a research consultant with the Institute for Security Studies (Pretoria), Mozambique’s correspondent to Bloomberg News and research in governance with Maputo-based Think Tank, the Center for Public Integrity.

Professor Adriano Nuvunga, Director, Center for Democracy and Development (CDD)

Prof. Adriano Alfredo Nuvunga, PhD is the Director of the Centro para Democracia e Desenvolvimento (CDD), a Democracy, Governance and Human Rights Organization in Mozambique. Prof Nuvunga teaches political science and governance at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique. Prof Nuvunga is a Senior Research Fellow at the Good Governance Africa (GGA) based in Johannerbug, South Africa. Prof Nuvunga Chairs the Mozambique Network of Human Rights Defenders and is the deputy chairperson of the Board of the Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN). He is the Founding member and former director of the Centre for Public Integrity (CIP), Mozambique’s Transparency International Chapter. He is a member of the Board of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), based in Accra, Ghana and is the Chairperson of the Africa Policy Dialogue in Mozambique and member of INCLUDE, the Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development Policies of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His next book examines the nexus: Weak Governance, violent Conflict and Managing Mozambique’s Resource Boom.

Jasmine Opperman, Independent Terrorism Expert and Security Analyst, 14 North Strategies

Jasmine Opperman is director Africa at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium and an analyst at the Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism. Her proficiency in methodological risk analysis and the management of intelligence processes — operations, counterintelligence, covert activities, and analysis — comes from 19 years employment in formal intelligence structures, when she served as provincial head for South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. Since leaving the intelligence community, Jasmine has been engaged in several projects related to business risk and process analysis to help transform risks into business opportunities. Her interests are primarily related to Africa’s political and economic trends and developments and their impact on various business sectors.

She holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Johannesburg and has published numerous articles for local media and been interviewed by all major TV networks in South Africa and Nigeria. She is also currently the only person directly engaged in de-radicalization programs in South Africa, during which she has successfully intervened in five of seven such programs.

Thomas Mandrup, Associate Professor, Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (SIGLA), Stellenbosch University

Thomas Mandrup is an Extraordinary Associate Professor at Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Associate Professor at Royal Danish Defence College, Denmark. He has published articles and book chapters and co-edited several books on issues related to African security governance, climate security in Africa, peace missions and South African foreign policy. Currently, he is finalizing a monograph on the South African National Defence Force. He received his PhD in International Relations (2007) from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark for a dissertation entitled: ‘Africa: Salvation or Despair? A study of the post-apartheid South African government’s use of the military tool in its foreign policy conduct from 1994 to 2006’.  Prof. Mandrup was a Doctoral Candidate attached to the Danish Institute of International Studies (DIIS). He has vast consultancy experience working for the UN, AU, ISS, Chatham House and diplomatic missions in Africa. From 2018-2020 he was the editor of the South African Journal of Military Studies. He has extensive fieldwork experience from, for instance, the DRC, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sudan. From 2016-17 he headed the African section of a larger EU- funded project (Horizon 2020) on EU conflict management.

John Stupart, Director, African Defence Review

John Stupart is the co-founder of the African Defence Review and a journalist at Daily Maverick. He has completed a Master’s in War Studies at King’s College, where his thesis focused on the civil-military deficiencies within the South African military. Stupart was the former Deputy Editor of the print magazine African Armed Forces Journal and works extensively as a defence researcher for a wide variety of global transparency and information organisations.


Dr Marko Svicevic, Researcher, Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law, Faculty of Law, Palacký University, Czech Republic

Dr Marko Svicevic is a researcher with the Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law, Faculty of Law, Palacký University where he also lectures on the use of force and armed conflict. He is also a post-doctoral research fellow at the South African Research Chair in International Law, University of Johannesburg. His primary research focuses on the international law applicable to the prohibition and regulation of the use of armed force, with a refined focus on military interventions by African regional and sub-regional organisations.

Joe Van Der Walt, CEO, Focus Group & Rhula Intelligent Solutions. 

With a background in the defence force of the South African military, Joe Van Der Walt has specialised in private-sector security and risk management in Africa and the Middle East for over 20 years. He has expertise in the oil, gas, mining sectors and anti-poaching. He has planned, coordinated, and implemented operations in Sub-Sahara, East and West Africa, and the oil fields of Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq and Asia. Joe has been responsible for the implementation and management of high-level security for asset protection and personnel involving several multinationals operating in Africa and the Middle East. He has delivered high-level threat assessments, such as a major gas line construction project in the United States. 

Cobus van der Merwe, Chief Business Establishment, Global Command & Control Technologies

Cobus joined the South African Army in January 1975 and served in a variety of posts until his retirement after 26 years’ service. He served on active duty as well as in a number of systems and technology-related positions including that of future directed R&D projects management. At the time of his retirement, he served as Senior Staff Officer Armour R&D for the South African Army and was User System responsible for SA Army vehicle technology programmes including active protection,

electric drive vehicles and active signature management. He joined Grintek Avitronics in 2001 and was employed as Head of EW Product Management and Deputy Head of Electronic Warfare. In 2010 he won the Saab Corporate Innovator of the Year Award for a revolutionary active protection system concept. He was appointed Vice-President and Head of the Command & Control and Training and Simulation product unit from 2016 – 2019. With the establishment of Global Command and Control Technologies in March 2019, he was appointed the Acting Chief Executive Officer. He has since stepped down to

mentor young talent and start-up companies. His is the Chief Business Establishment for the company and advisor to the CEO. He is also a Board Member of AMD. He is married to Brita and they have two sons. His interests are military and business strategy, technology solutions and wildlife photography.

Professor Francois Vreÿ, Research Coordinator, Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (SIGLA) Stellenbosch University

Prof Francois Vreÿ is Emeritus Professor in Military Sciences, Stellenbosch University. He lectured in the Faculty of Military Science, Stellenbosch University for 22 years and now serves as the Research Coordinator for the Security Institute for Governance and Leadership in Africa (SIGLA), Stellenbosch University. Professor Vreÿ is a C1 Rated Researcher of the National Research Foundation of South Africa and a former editor of the accredited academic journal Scientia Militaria: South African Journal of Military Studies. He is also the South African associate of a partnership with the Faculty of the Royal Danish Defence College on strategic culture and Africa – a partnership that has culminated in five international conferences since 2009 on African military affairs and three books – the latest being Towards Good Order at Sea: African Experiences (2015) and The African Standby Force: Quo Vadis? (2017). His research fields include future warfare and Africa’s emerging maritime security setting and maritime security governance off Africa in particular. His current posting involves building international research partnerships for SIGLA at Stellenbosch University on leadership, landward and maritime security governance, and cyber security. For more detail on SIGLA see http://www.sun.ac.za/english/faculty/milscience/sigla/about-sigla