Ph.D. student elevated to Chief Economist position


High-level appointments made by acting Competition Commissioner

According to statements made by the interim South African Competition Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele, and based on several news reports (here and here, for instance), the SACC has filled several of its recently (or not-so-recently) emptied ranks:

  1. Chief Economist and Manager of the Policy and Research division: Liberty Mncube
  2. Divisional Manager of Enforcement and Exemptions: Junior Khumalo
  3. Chief Financial Officer: Thomas Kgokolo

The appointments were made effective as of the first of the year.  The SACC had been criticised for lack of stability in its leadership and overall staff, given a fairly high turnover rate among its employees and officers.  Perhaps to counter this impression, Mr. Bonakele said in the official SACC statement that the “new appointees will provide the necessary leadership to their very important divisions. It is important that we have a very strong and stable senior management team and I have full confidence that this team will take the Commission to higher levels. We are privileged as an institution that we are able to find most candidates internally and thereby ensure continuity.”  (Emphasis added).

Focusing on the first new appointment to the Chief Economist role – a position that has sat empty for over a year, according to our recollection – it not only provides for a catchy title but is indeed a noteworthy fact that Mr. Mncube is a graduate student at the moment We do not know of any other competition enforcement agency that has filled the job of chief economist with someone who is currently pursuing a degree in economics.  This comment is not to diminish Mr. Mncube’s accomplishments, nor to take away from his potential to fill the role adequately.  It simply states a fact.  His past professional biography includes the following, according to a 2011 ICN The Hague conference web site:

[Note: information as of 2011] “Liberty Mncube is a Senior Analyst in the Policy and Research Division of the Competition Commission of South Africa. At the Commission, his responsibilities include managing and coordinating research and policy development; managing and coordinating case analysis; contributing in building capacity for research and knowledge of competition policy; and undertaking analysis related to competition matters with regard to policy and regulation. Prior to joining the Commission, he was a Researcher at the Development Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town. Liberty holds an MSc in Economics from the University of York.”

Mr. Mncube’s own LinkedIn profile is updated to reflect his current position:

I am the Chief Economist at the Competition Commission South Africa. I hold a MSc in Economics from the University of York and am currently completing a PhD in Economics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. I have been a visiting PhD graduate student at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

For the economists among our readership, here are a few selected publications by Mr. Mncube (note that his LinkedIn profile lists several additional articles and book chapters): “On merger simulation and its potential role in South African merger control“; “Strategic Entry Deterrence: Pioneer Foods And The Bread Cartel“; and “Designing Appropriate Remedies For Competition Law Enforcement: The Pioneer Foods Settlement Agreement

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