28 February 2022

The agreement, signed at the Mbombela Campus on 7 February 2022, will also enhance job creation among UMP graduates, and encourage the utilization of various skills by students through research and participation in Special Economic Zone (SEZs). It also seeks to facilitate the transformation of the economy to create job opportunities and eliminate poverty and inequality.

It will also focus on areas specifically targeted on economic activities to promote national economic growth and exports by using support measures to attract foreign and domestic investments and technology that has been envisaged to be established in Nkomazi local municipality. 

Sharing her remarks on the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Vice-Chancellor Professor Thoko Mayekiso said the EDM has chosen a university that is destined to become a centre of excellence in several designated fields and disciplines.

“As an engaged university, our institution places great value on partnerships, and we have identified them as both drivers and enablers in advancing our vision as UMP. We intend to establish North-South and South-South partnerships,” she said.

Professor Mayekiso added that UMP has partnerships with 20 universities in 13 countries. “We hope to draw on our vast experience to contribute to the advancement of this partnership. UMP prides itself on its iconic infrastructure, providing both staff and students with a conducive ecology in which to teach, learn, and conduct research.

She added that the foregoing developments represent UMP's typology as a comprehensive institution that offers qualifications from higher certificate to doctoral degrees.

"UMP understands that its academic project must combine both the creation and transfer of knowledge and skills for the optimal development of students as independent and critical thinkers with a passion for knowledge and its application," she said adding that UMP has installed its second Chancellor, Justice Mandisa Maya.

“Justice Maya, who takes over from President Cyril Ramaphosa, the first Chancellor of UMP, was recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to be the next Chief Justice of our country. It is Chancellors of such stature that make UMP stand tall despite its young age of eight years,” said Professor Mayekiso.

UMPExecutive Mayor of the Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Honourable Councillor (Cllr) Jesta Sidwell.

Increasing youth employment rate

The Executive Mayor of the Ehlanzeni District Municipality, Honourable Councillor (Cllr) Jesta Sidwell, mentioned the district municipality is predominately poor but its economy is rich: tourism, agriculture and forestry.

“For example, when you go to Thaba Chweu you get the elements of mining, tourism and forestry. In the city of Mbombela where the infrastructure is, we do have those similar elements and all the other EDM local municipalities also have the elements of tourism, agriculture and forestry but are very rural.”

She continued that the two institutions are responding to the challenges of high youth unemployment, poverty, and inequality.

“I want to believe that this partnership is paramount and will facilitate to transform the economy to create job opportunities to undermine poverty and inequality. Our response today will be a scientifically informed one as opposed to a commitment that is devoid of scientific analysis in the alignment of the formalisation of areas of collaborations between these two institutions,” said Cllr Sidwell.

In addition, she said, the agreement would expand the education and learning of UMP students through service learning and scholarly engagement to serve the communities effectively. And to create a conducive environment for the advancement of enterprise development across various sectors of the economy.

UMPProfessor Mayekiso led the Ehlanzeni District Municipality delegation on a tour of  the Mbombela campus. 

Graduate programmes

The objective of the MoU will also be to place graduates in related fields of study to gain practical experience and in return to improve the employment rate. It will assist UMP students in gaining the practical experience needed to complete their studies successfully and to conduct relevant research projects at the postgraduate level that will enhance mutual scientific awareness.

“We will also collaborate in securing funds for research and other joined projects, the development of empowerment programmes and to create a job linkage programme with the university and local businesses to facilitate linking graduates with job opportunities and internships to ensure skills are retrained within the EDM.

As UMP is an ultra-agricultural institution the agriculture students will be utilised in the development of small-scale farming programmes around the Ehlanzeni District’s four local Municipalities: Nkomazi, Thaba Chweu, Bushbuckridge and Mbombela.

Cllr Sidwell further added that the potential areas of collaboration will be graduate placement in agricultural activities that are related to food security programmes, research in line with co-functions such as farmer support, hospitality, development studies, and environmental management to name a few.

She concluded by saying, "I want to emphasise that we have the responsibility to make this Memorandum of Understanding work to benefit our people. As a very rural District Municipality, we have a high impact on such projects."

The visit was rounded off with the UMP management taking the EDM  delegation for a tour around the Mbombela Campus.

@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures ChrisplPhoto.