01 October 2021

The University of Mpumalanga (UMP) has elected a new Executive Committee of the Convocation at a virtual general meeting held at the end of August. The election of the new executive committee is as a result of the end of the term of the previous executive committee, and in line with the institutional statute.

The newly elected committee consists of President: Wandile Shabangu, Deputy President: Veli Mashaba, Secretary: Nontethelo Maphangu. Additional Members: Jupiter Nolen and Vinolia Mahlangu, and Member of the Convocation to the Council: Moses Sithole.

The president, Wandile Shabangu, shares more about himself, his vision for the convocation, and his plans going forward. 

Tell us about your leadership journey; how did you get here?

"I came to the University of Mpumalanga with my black consciousness in hand, and it was just a matter of time before I met like-minded students. It was then that we involved ourselves in student activism. I served in several positions of responsibility, from SASCO and SCO to the SRC. I served as the Chairperson of the Campus Representative Council while simultaneously serving as the Treasurer of the Student Representative Council in 2018.

I joined the University of Mpumalanga in 2016 when I registered as a first-year student in Development Studies. Being accepted at the university was an answer to my prayers. I’ve always wanted to further my studies, and being close to home means I’m always available to my mother when she needs me.

I graduated in 2019 and was part of the very first class of Development Studies to graduate from the University of Mpumalanga. My journey here has been filled with many up and downs, but, by God’s grace, I managed to emerge victorious through it all."

How do you plan to serve as president of the convocation?

"It is important for me to indicate that mine is to serve the interests of students. By that I speak for both the undergraduates and the postgraduates. We can't run away from the fact that there is a positive link between the two.

My plan is to do what I do best, which is doing the best I can to run with the mandate from my constituency, because after all I am just a servant, nothing more. Leading graduates or students in general is different from leading a group of individuals who are striking for water or any service delivery. Here I am tasked with leading a group of intellectuals, some of which are way above me as far as academics are concerned."

Tell us about your leadership plans?

"It will be very crucial for me to consider participation as the greatest strategy as far as leading these groups is concerned. I am like a tool in the hands of the intellectuals. What I can say in short is that my plans will be derived from the mandate that I will receive from the graduates of the University of Mpumalanga.

It will be counterrevolutionary for my plans to be contrary to those of my constituency. However, I do have great plans that I still need to present before the entire executive and will then engage on how we can practicalize everything."

How do you see your role as president?

"While some will refer to my position as a position of power, I am of a different view. I believe my position is one of great responsibility, not great power. If one believes such a position to be of power, he is likely to want to practice that power over his constituency. However, when you understand that this is a position of responsibility, you will know that you have a big role to play in representing graduates and being accountable to them at all costs.

There is nothing special about me, I am just a servant. I feel honoured to be given yet another responsibility to continue serving the interest of the poor black majority while equally serving the interests of the University in general. It is every stakeholder's responsibility to protect the image of the University.

Being elected as the President of Convocation is not an achievement for me but another responsibility that I have been trusted with.

I might be a President; however, I am equally a ground force and must always be found doing whatever it takes to ensure that the targets set for the convocation executive committee are met in record time. I am but a servant after all. The University has just officially announced the newly elected convocation EXCO and is yet to meet. However, communications have already started and planning is underway."

The Convocation membership consists of UMP Graduates, The Lowveld College of Agriculture Graduates, UMP 
Vice-Chancellor, Deputy Vice-Chancellors, UMP Executive Management, Deans of Faculties, Current Academic Employees and Retired Academic Employees.

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Picture Supplied