Elias Phaahla, PhD

Dr. Phaahla is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he teaches comparative politics as well as international relations. He earned his PhD in political science from the University of Stellenbosch in 2015, where he wrote a thesis looking into the politics of welfare of welfare reform in South Africa and Mauritius from the context of old-age pensions. A research fellow at the Nordic Africa Institute based at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, he was awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in 2009 and was recognized as one of the Top 200 Young South Africans by the Mail and Guardian in 2017. His research interests include, but are not limited to, China-Africa relations in the context of BRICS, welfare capitalism in the Global South with specific reference to South Africa and Mauritius, and the developmental state in Africa. 

Courses Taught

South-South Relations in the Context of BRICS

Select Publications

Phaahla, E. (2022). Social Forces and Divergent Welfare Outcomes in the Global South: The Case of South Africa and Mauritius [Monograph], Palgrave MacMillan (forthcoming

Phaahla, E. (2021). Reflections on the Proceedings of the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Sino-Africa and Sino-BRICS relations. Strategic Review for Southern Africa, 43(1),191+. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A675004205/AONE?u=vol_oweb&sid=googleScholar&xid=c150b52 

Phaahla E. (2020). What the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) means for China-Africa relations and BRICS. Management and Economics Research Journal, 6(S5), 1-6. https://doi.org/10.18639/MERJ.2020.9900030 

Netswera, F., Josie, J., Mthembu, P., Phaahla, E. and & Makukule, I. (2020). Social Justice, Sustainable Development and Quality of Life. Revista Tempo do Mundo, 22, 75-94. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343837941_SOCIAL_JUSTICE_SUSTAINABLE_DEVELOPMENT_AND_QUALITY_OF_LIFE 

Phaaha, E. (2019). Mauritius’ competitive party politics and social democratic outcomes since independence. Strategic Review of Southern Africa, 41, 2, 1-18. https://www.proquest.com/openview/dc9eaf217d5b2689db357d68fc1cd319/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=616415 

Phaahla, E. (2019). Electoral experiences and (social) democratic expectations in Mauritius, 1968 -2005, in Gray, R., Rupiya, M., Teffo, L., and Gutto, S (Eds.), A Glass Full or Half Empty: The Challenges of Political Succession and Elections in Africa, (pp. 94-115). Ssali Publishers: Cape Town.  

Netswera. G., Phaahla, E., Makukule, I., and Josie, J. (2017), Social Justice and Sustainable Development and Quality of Life, in Viswanathan, H.H.S., and Soni, S. (Eds.), Realising the BRICS Long-Term Goals: Road-maps and pathways – A proposal by the BRICS Think Tanks Council (pp. 50 – 67). New Delhi, Observer Research Foundation. https://www.orfonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Brics.pdf 

Phaahla, E. (2016). Review: Religion without Redemption: Social Contradictions and Awakening Dreams in Latin America. Latin American Review, 31.1, pp. 99-101. 

Research Interests

Welfare capitalism in Mauritius and South Africa
Developmental states
China-Africa Relations


  • PhD, Political Studies, University of Stellenbosch
  • MA, International Studies, University of Stellenbosch
  • BA, Honours (with Distinction), University of the Witwatersrand
  • BA, International Relations and Political Studies, University of the Witwatersrand
Elias Phaahla, PhD

SIT Graduate Institute

Affiliated Faculty

MA in Diplomacy and International Relations

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