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About Us


MISTRA is an independent research institute that takes a long-term view on the strategic challenges facing South Africa.  


MISTRA was founded by a group of South Africans with experience in research, academia, policy-making and governance who saw the need to create a platform of engagement around strategic issues facing South Africa. It is an Institute that combines research and academic development, strategic reflection and intellectual discourse. It applies itself to issues such as economics, sociology, history, arts and culture and the logics of natural sciences. 

MISTRA combines research and rigorous discourse with an array of partners.  The Institute seeks to deepen debate and broaden avenues of enquiry on a plethora of issues, including economics, governance, history, art, culture and natural sciences. MISTRA is built on a long-held and deeply entrenched passion among Southern Africans to deliberate socio-political issues that have both a local impact and a global resonance. MISTRA endeavours to provide platforms for dialogue and forge partnerships for intellectual exploration that both bolster a fledgling democracy, and push the boundaries of limited expectation of our fractured history.



Why Mapungubwe?


Mapungubwe is a pre-colonial Southern African Kingdom which was located in the far northern parts of South Africa, bordering present-day Botswana and Zimbabwe. The people of this ancient Kingdom had a sophisticated state and economic system which included mining, advanced artisanship and agricultural activities. They also traded with countries such as China, India and Egypt.

The story of Mapungubwe speaks to structured thought and development processes. It also contains lessons about the ebbs and flows of human civilisation. The Mapungubwe Institute has selected the golden sceptre – one of the artefacts found in Mapungubwe representing the authority and wisdom of leadership in communion with society – as its motif.
 South Africa’s struggle for democracy encouraged intellectual activism at various levels of abstraction. Over the years, the country also developed areas of excellence in some natural sciences and application of technology.

The South African story fascinates humanity because it represents the confluence of successes, challenges and aspirations that relate to global human advancement and solidarity across race, social status, religion and other attributes.


The Mapungubwe Institute is built on these foundations, drawing lessons from the past and contributing to charting a course towards a future of peace, prosperity and general human fulfilment in our country and the continent of Africa, and across the globe.




An institute for research and reflection on domestic and global dynamics with a bearing on the advancement of South African society




To advance South Africa’s development by addressing the complex challenges that straddle issues of nation-formation, economic growth, social equity, science and technology and positioning in a globalised world




A progressive Institute, broadly informed by the ideals of our Constitution, to:

  • develop and advance South Africa’s paradigm of thinking and reservoir of knowledge in a wide variety of disciplines
  • advance the all-round development of South African society for the attainment of an improving quality of life
  • deepen South African democracy
  • promote African development and democracy
  • advance South Africa’s global interests in pursuit of peace and equitable development
  • contribute to the mobilisation of society around a common vision

Business Philosophy


Strategic high-level interrogation of issues in an atmosphere that is free from the pressures of immediate application, considerations of sources of funding or narrow sectoral interests


Target Audience


Decision-makers in government, civil society, academia and business