MoU to Benefit Students and Staff in Human Settlements Research on Social Issues

MoU to Benefit Students and Staff in Human Settlements Research on Social Issues
Front from left: Ms Puseletso Nale, KZN Department of Human Settlements; Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize; Professor Vivian Ojong, Acting Dean of the School of Social Sciences; Dr Desiree Manicom; and (back) Ms Zandile Cele, KZN Department of Human Settlements and Dr Sthembiso Myeni.

UKZN and the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Human Settlements signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will create opportunities for students to acquire skills in monitoring, evaluating and researching issues related to human settlements.

The School of Social Sciences, as part of its community engagement activities, initiated and facilitated the signing of the MoU, which is in line with its partnership with the provincial government.

Students will be involved in practical work experience and research projects, which will assist them to find a job while helping speed up the Department’s programme evaluations and finalisation of reports as well as being, alerted to the Department’s internship programmes.

‘Through this partnership, the KZN Department of Human Settlements also hopes to enhance the evaluation and research skills of its employees by drawing on the expertise and experience of UKZN staff,’ said the Academic Leader for Community Engagement in the School of Social Sciences, Dr Desiree Manicom.

Specifically the University will provide support to the Department’s Evaluation Reference Committee through two academics - Manicom and Dr Sthembiso Myeni of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies.

This support will take the form of inputs to evaluation plans and final evaluation reports while the academics will also co-ordinate and assist with the supervision of students participating in the Department’s projects.

‘The School hopes that this engagement with a provincial government department will lead to the implementation of UKZN’s Strategic Goal 3, which is to promote high-impact societal and stakeholder community engagement through developing engaged alumni, driving key stakeholder community enhancement projects, strengthening University transactional research and developing key public and private sector partnerships,’ said Manicom.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize said: ‘We are excited about this partnership as it will allow our students to not only engage their theoretical knowledge but to put it into practice within the workforce and in communities.’

Words and photograph: Melissa Mungroo


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Counter Coronavirus Measures Must Target Poor and Marginalised

Counter Coronavirus Measures Must Target Poor and Marginalised
.Click here for isiZulu version

A new virus not previously been identified in humans arrived on the scene towards the end of last year - novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

In the wake of this being revealed, the World Health Organization (WHO) swiftly declared a public international health emergency at the end of January this year, as infections spread rapidly.

Since then an increasing number of cases has been confirmed outside of China, including in South Africa, with the situation evolving - and deteriorating - rapidly.

The fact that rapid urbanisation and increasing international travel can cause epidemic outbreaks to be global phenomena rather than simply local occurrences, makes it imperative for all countries to take the necessary measures to counter the threat.

South Africans have been asked by the government not to panic as authorities are well prepared to fight against and contain the outbreak.

First line of defence against the COVID-19 pandemic is surveillance: monitoring human and animal populations to identify outbreaks and contain them quickly. Now that South Africa has around 709 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection (at the time of writing), we are at the crossroads: coronavirus has not yet reached (or at least we don’t know if it has reached) epidemic proportions in our country. Despite Government’s efforts to fight and contain the outbreak, significant gaps, challenges and an “unevenness” exist regarding pandemic preparedness. Progress towards preventing the spread of coronavirus has been “uneven”, and many parts of the country have been unable to meet basic requirements for compliance in a variety of spheres.

When epidemics or pandemics occur, they usually hit the poor first and the hardest. We have known this for a while with gaps being exposed in the areas of timely detection of disease, availability of basic medical care, tracing of contacts, quarantine and isolation procedures, and preparedness outside the health sector, including co-ordination and response mobilisation. In a country with high inequality like South Africa, these gaps are especially evident in resource-limited settings of townships and informal settlements, with the incumbent potential of very serious implications for what could happen in a coronavirus outbreak in congested areas.

With the above in mind, there is an opportunity to pre-empt the worst of the coronavirus impact through concerted action to reach those “furthest behind”. It is thus my belief that the coronavirus outbreak is also a Town Planning issue with planners able to influence the trajectory of this virus.

In the light of this variable, the current strategy South Africa is employing is not sufficient to contain the virus - the strategy indeed needs to be recalibrated and we must start moving beyond national strategies and prioritise interventions in outlying/rural areas. Many of these locations are remote, with health facilities and other services difficult to reach or even inaccessible for poor people. Urban informal settlements are hotspots for the spread of diseases, and so targeting these areas of extreme poverty through health interventions alongside the provision of proper water and sanitation services and other forms of sustainable developments would offer a longer-term solution to preventing the spread of the outbreaks and reducing or preventing deaths.

All of this points to a critical need to situate the response to the coronavirus in wider risk-informed development strategies, to ensure the inclusion of those ‘furthest behind’, who may otherwise face the worst effects of the pandemic in the months ahead.

Despite growing international and national attention, COVID-19 surveillance remains weakest in marginalised areas which are often short of water with poor sanitation infrastructure and health facilities. People living in such areas struggle to get clean drinking water and washing their hands regularly is a luxury they seldom enjoy.

Thus in poor and marginalised communities, outbreaks of the virus are likely to go undetected for a longer time and smoulder and spread. In such circumstances, we will all be doomed - coronavirus does not discriminate. 

Regardless of where a pandemic starts, once underway, the poor tend to bear the brunt because of weaker health systems and poor infrastructure in their areas with a limited capacity to handle surges in cases.

This is the situation South Africa faces with the coronavirus pandemic.

Among advice offered by authorities to help contain the scourge is for people to avoid public places such as markets or big public gatherings. However, the very nature of marginalised communities, such as informal settlements, involves overcrowding. Authorities thus need to give urgent attention to these areas which are ticking time bombs as the virus continues to spread its tentacles.

Efforts must thus urgently target poor and marginalised communities whose livelihoods are already precarious and where the potential for the virus to spread like wildfire is enormous. Without vigorous efforts to secure equitable access to basic health services for everyone, we could suffer the worst pandemic in the history of South Africa.

Dr Hangwelani Hope Magidimisha-Chipungu is the SARChI Chair for Inclusive Cities (NRF-SACN) and UKZN’s Academic leader for Planning and Housing.


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Meet SA Mathematical Society President

Meet SA Mathematical Society President
UKZN academic Professor Precious Sibanda, newly appointed South African Mathematical Society President, at an International Mathematical Union day of engagement at the African Institute for Mathematical Science in Cape Town.Click here for isiZulu version

Academic Leader of Mathematics on the UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus, Professor Precious Sibanda, has been appointed President of the South African Mathematical Society (SAMS) for a two-year term.

Known for his research in the field of applied mathematics and mathematical modelling of fluids, Sibanda has been an academic at UKZN for 17 years.

He completed his undergraduate and honours degrees at the University of Zimbabwe and went on to do his masters and PhD at the University of Manchester in England, where he conducted his research in applied mathematics and fluid dynamics after developing an interest in the topics during his undergraduate studies.

Sibanda worked at the University of Zimbabwe for several years before joining UKZN.

‘Fluid dynamics encompasses almost everything – everything around us can be thought of as a fluid under certain circumstances,’ said Sibanda. ‘We interact with fluids in almost everything we do.’

Sibanda explored the flow of fluids in boundary levels, which he describes as flows near solid surfaces and the interface between solids and fluids, and heat transfer between different surfaces and fluids, which has application in heat exchangers.

Sibanda has also worked on the combination of numerical methods and fluid dynamics, the former providing the tools to solve the differential equations derived from fluid dynamics.

He initiated the creation of an annual workshop on numerical methods for differential equations in Pietermaritzburg, which for the past 12 years has been attended by PhD students and young academics from various institutions across South Africa and neighbouring countries.

The 13th edition of this workshop is scheduled to take place at the end of June 2020.

Another major contribution Sibanda has made to his Discipline in the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (SMSCS) is his mentorship of up-and-coming academics - he currently mentors five young Mathematics staff members on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

‘I hope to help develop independent, hard-working people who excel in both the research and administrative responsibilities of academic life,’ said Sibanda.

Sibanda has worked hard to ensure the successful establishment of pure mathematics as a specialisation on the Pietermaritzburg campus, with a majority of Mathematics Honours students in 2020 specialising in Pure Mathematics.

As President of SAMS, Sibanda aims to present South African Mathematics in the best light possible, and works to ensure the overall wellbeing of the Society, representing it at various levels. He has been involved in the society in several roles since 2008, including as vice-president and treasurer. Together with their stakeholders, the Society is actively involved in several initiatives such as the National Graduate Academy for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences to contribute to the pipeline of mathematicians in the country.

Sibanda said South Africa boasted several pockets of excellence in Mathematics, and he hoped to see increased funding at postgraduate level to boost the country’s mathematical capacity and keep excellent students, particularly Black Africans, contributing within the system.

Sibanda, who has also been recognised as a Distinguished Teacher within the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, has graduated more than a dozen PhD students and many more MSc students in a career spanning more than two decades, including two UKZN staff members. He is among the University’s Top 30 Published Researchers, and is a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa.

‘We appreciate what Professor Sibanda has done for his Discipline, especially how he has been able to motivate and mentor young mathematicians,’ said Dean and Head of the SMSCS, Professor Delia North. ‘He is a fantastic leader and role model as an academic.’

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied


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Jazz Lecturer Releases Fourth Studio Album

Jazz Lecturer Releases Fourth Studio Album
UKZN Jazz lecturer, Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane, performing with the Mash Trio at The Chairman Club.Click here for isiZulu version

UKZN Jazz lecturer, Mr Sibusiso Mashiloane, launched his highly anticipated fourth studio album Amanzi Nemifula – uMkhuleko, during a concert at The Chairman in Durban with the Mash Trio Acoustic.

Mash Trio consists of Mashiloane on keys, double bassist Dalisu Ndlazi and drummer Riley Giandhari. The trio has worked together for many years on refining some of the existing compositions by Mashiloane.

Speaking about his album, he said: ‘The music fluidly embodies the African indigenous metaphysics of the integral role of water in lived experiences and influences in daily African life. Playing upstream back to the rivers of memories that are the centre of growing up in many communities that I come from, the inspiration spills into sound.’ 

The rivers theme is also metaphoric to internet streams, music venues, radios etc as vessels that bring the substance of sound to the masses, the listeners.

The first instalment of this project is an acoustic set performed by the Mash Trio. The second instalment, Izayoni The Village, is collaborative and evokes emotions of the spiritual realm. ‘There is an air of trance like vibrancy, with Africa spiritual tones that permeates into a spring season upbeat mood within the music,’ said Mashiloane.

Then uMkhuleko adds some spiritual elements while Amanzi Nemifula indirectly explores the meaning of water and shows appreciation to our oceans, rivers and communities.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Simanga Zondo


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R9.8m Grant for Early Career Scholars Programme

R9.8m Grant for Early Career Scholars Programme
Back from left: College of Humanities Finance Manager, Dr Dane Arumugam; Acting Director of Professional Services, Dr Phumelele Zakwe; and College Research Professor, Saleem Badat. Front: Acting Dean of Social Sciences, Professor Vivian Ojong; Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize; and Dean of the School of Arts, Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa.Click here for isiZulu version

The Andrew W Mellon Foundation of New York has awarded UKZN’s College of Humanities R9.8 million for a five-year Early Career Scholars Programme.

An expansion of the inclusive professoriate programme, the five-year grant is intended to support UKZN Humanities early career scholars by providing them with the opportunities to conduct research, supervise postgraduate students, undertake post-doctoral studies, attend conferences, and enhance their research, writing and supervision expertise as part of developing their academic careers. 

In the Mellon award, early career scholars are defined as academics who are tenured (ie employed on a full-time, permanent basis), possess a PhD, received their doctorates less than 10 years ago and have an emerging and/or sustained track record of publishing.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize, said: ‘I am in the process of establishing a committee I will chair, and I will also direct and maintain oversight of the Early Career Scholars Programme. In due course, a call will be made for applications for the available Early Career Academic Staff Research Fellowships. I extend my sincere appreciation to the Andrew W Mellon Foundation for its welcome support for the UKZN Humanities Early Career Scholars Programme.’

The Mellon award provides funding for the following:

•    Early Career Academic Staff Research Fellowships

The award will provide teaching relief for 12 staff members for one semester each through funding for replacement teaching costs - two staff in year one, three in year two, three in year three, two in year four and two staff in year five.Replacement costs will be in line with official UKZN rates.

•    Early Career Academic Staff Research Grants

The 12 staff members who are awarded Research Fellowships will receive research grants to undertake writing and publication.

•    Early Career Academic Staff Development Activities

The 12 staff members will be supported through development initiatives related to writing and publishing and supervising higher degrees candidates. In addition, staff will receive support to attend conferences in order to present their work and establish scholarly and publishing networks. Workshops on writing, publishing, and academic supervision will include additional early career scholars.

•    Early Career Academic Staff Postdoctoral Fellowships

Beyond the six-month research fellowships, it could be necessary to provide postdoctoral opportunities to select staff with PhDs to undertake research and writing for a longer duration or for the purposes of working on a monograph. Provision is made for five postdoctoral fellowships.

•    Student Scholarships

In order to facilitate staff development and progression, it is intended to attach competitively recruited postgraduate students to the Early Career Academic Staff Research Fellows. Over the five-year period, 10 master’s scholarships and six doctoral scholarships for a four-year period will be available.

Qualifying staff members should be on the lookout for an advertised announcement within the next two weeks.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Students Excel at Innovate Festival

UKZN Students Excel at Innovate Festival
UKZN student inventor, Mr Jabulani Nyembe, with Innovate Durban Festival representatives.

Two Durban students devised a digital medical records software system, Clinalytics, which won them third place and R25 000 at the Innovate Festival (IF) in Durban.

The students are third-year Bachelor of Business Science student Mr Jabulani Nyembe and BCom Information Systems and Technology graduand and Postgraduate Diploma in Local Economic Development student Mr Muhle Ndwalane.

IF Durban is an annual festival aimed at thought leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, designers, government officials and innovation stakeholders to explore the latest trends from both a global and local perspective and to celebrate and showcase the innovation in Durban.

Clinalytics aims to empower healthcare professionals with tools to enable them to provide world class healthcare services through a digital medical records software system that allows them to create, store, and analyse the medical records of patients. 

‘Preparing for our pitch at the festival involved knowledge we gathered over our years of study at UKZN while being part of the Enspire programme under UKZN’s InQubate division gave us an advantage,’ said Nyembe.

‘The festival provided us with an opportunity to learn and interact with the highlight being able to meet Professor Mashudu Tshifularo - the first person in the world to successfully complete a middle ear transplant and restore hearing.

‘Professor Tshifularo advised us on how we could improve our software.

‘The festival provided an opportunity for us to sell ourselves to possible investors and hear exactly what they look for,’ he added.

Nyembe and Ndwalane recently added a third member to the team - Ms Thulisile Mthembu, a third-year BCom Information Technology and Finance student, who assists with finance and legal consulting work.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga

Photograph: Supplied


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BSc Student Recognised as Leading Fashion Designer

BSc Student Recognised as Leading Fashion Designer
Eco-conscious, Ms Nombuso Khanyile.

A UKZN BSc student studying Biochemistry and Microbiology, Ms Nombuso Khanyile, who branched out into the world of fashion design, was recently selected among the top 50 Design Indaba Emerging Creatives for 2020… and one of the top nine in Durban.

Khanyile co-founded Afrikan Passion Designs with colleague, Mr Nisbert Kembo and together they design and make leather accessories using recycled materials, which they exhibited at the Design Indaba Conference at Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre.

Khanyile’s innovative and environmentally conscious approach resulted in her achieving first place in the Durban Youth Connect Innovative Business Competition at the 2019 Durban Business Fair. She and Kembo have been featured on the YOCO website and she also appeared in the VISI and ArtsThread online magazines.

Khanyile grew up near Ulundi, witnessing the toll taken by the HIV pandemic as well as the benefits of using nature to heal and prevent disease. This drew her to UKZN - which boasts a strong HIV and AIDS research programme - to study in a field aligned to her desire to be active in searching for a cure for the disease.

Research in her scientific field led her to explore principles of biodesign and the manipulation of micro-organisms to create environmentally conscious materials or fabrics as well as dyes which she uses in her fashion designs.

The designs of Khanyile and Kembo are inspired by the African/Zulu tradition of wearing homemade sandals, and aim to preserve and simultaneously revolutionise this tradition through modernising original African designs, such as iMbadada, to match modern tastes and styles.

‘The use of low-cost upcycled or recycled materials to create marketable products inspired self-reliance within me to use what I have and generate enough capital to start the business,’ said Khanyile.

Khanyile advised budding entrepreneurs to work hard, making sure they had a detailed plan and knowledge of the pros and cons of running a business.

She plans to continue with both her studies and business pursuits, doing more research into biodesign and potentially create an environmentally friendly fabric to replace leather, and contribute to HIV research.

Khanyile thanked UKZN InQubate for the business lessons they provided, Design Indaba for the mentorship and exposure they gave her, the Department of Arts and Culture and eThekwini Municipality’s Business Support Tourism and Markets Unit for business opportunities and media exposure, and her family and friends for their support.

Afrikan Passions Design is active on InstagramFacebook and Twitter, and can be contacted on afrikanpassiondesigns@gmail.com

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied


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Law Professor Promotes Access to Justice in Conflict and Comfort Zones!

Law Professor Promotes Access to Justice in Conflict and Comfort Zones!
UKZN Law Professor, David McQuoid-Mason (second left), with members of a traditional “Gurti” court in Somalia run by a religious leader assisted by clan elders.

Professor David McQuoid-Mason of UKZN’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies has been in Somalia assisting the local Ministry of Justice and Judiciary resolve differences in opinions about the country’s Legal Aid Act - which he drafted - as well as clarifying the role of paralegals there.

Soon after his return to South Africa, McQuoid-Mason travelled to Australia to conduct workshops for lawyers and NGOs on interactive teaching methods used when providing legal education to communities.

During his stay in Somalia, McQuoid-Mason completed a four-day UN Safety Security Training Course In Mogadishu and then conducted scoping meetings on legal aid and the role of paralegals with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Somali Women’s Development Centre, the Federal State Ministry of Justice, the Federal State Chief Justice; the Somali Bar Association, judges, a prosecutor, a paralegal employed by the Ministry of Justice, a police officer and a prison officer.

He then travelled to Gorawe in Puntland, (where the ancient Egyptian pharaohs used to obtain their frankincense from the forests), to conduct meetings on legal aid and the role of paralegals with the Puntland Legal Aid Centre, the Minister of Justice, the Chief Justice, a judge of the lower court, a prosecutor, a police officer, a prison officer, traditional elders and religious leaders, the Puntland Bar Association, the Puntland Women Lawyers Association, the Dean of the Law School of Puntland State University (PSU), lawyers and paralegals employed at the PSU Legal Aid Clinic, and the Puntland Human Rights Defender.

McQuoid-Mason then flew (on a noisy, aviation fuel fume-leaking, 30-year-old helicopter) to Baidoa, to conduct meetings on legal aid and the role of paralegals with a judge of the lower court and traditional elders and women leaders involved in alternate dispute resolution.

As Somalia is a conflict zone, he had armed protection wherever he went outside the perimeters of airports and ‘safe zones’. Two weeks after his return to South Africa he left for Australia, which was a comfort zone in comparison to Somalia.

In Perth, , McQuoid-Mason partnered with Murdoch University’s Law School outreach partner, SCALES Community Legal Centre, to conduct two workshops on using interactive teaching methods when providing public legal education to communities. Both workshops were very well received - the first was particularly interesting because it raised issues regarding the clash between culture and fundamental human rights, especially during traditional dispute resolution mechanisms in Aboriginal and migrant asylum-seekers and refugee communities.

Said McQuoid-Mason: ‘I was able to draw on my teaching experience in access to justice education in both South Africa and many of the African and Australasian countries that have similar English Common Law principles to Australia, to explain how these conflicts have been resolved. I also demonstrated how the South African Constitution and judiciary have dealt with such conflicts. This was particularly relevant to New South Wales and Victoria - the only two Australian states which have a Bill of Rights.’

Words: Ndabaonline

Photograph: Supplied


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UKZN Hosts Workshop on Water-Energy-Food Nexus Research

UKZN Hosts Workshop on Water-Energy-Food Nexus Research
From left: Professor Sylvester Mpandeli, WRC; Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi, UKZN; Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, WRC; Dr Mike Jacobson, Pennsylvania State University; and Professor Graham Jewitt, IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education.

UKZN hosted a two-day regional Water Research Commission (WRC) workshop in Pietermaritzburg on the topic of building synergies in Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus research.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science Professor Albert Modi opened the event attended by about 50 representatives from organisations and institutions including the WRC, Global Water Partnership – Southern Africa, Umgeni Water, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the International Water Management Institute, the SA Weather Service (SAWS), Stellenbosch University, WaterNet, IHE-Delft, eThekwini Municipality, Jones and Wagener, the University of Zimbabwe, Pennsylvania State University, the Department of Water and Sanitation, and the Agricultural Research Council.

Also in attendance were UKZN staff and students from disciplines that collaborate within the Centre for Transformative Agricultural and Food Systems (CTAFS), such as Agricultural Engineering, Crop Science, Agricultural Economics, Hydrology and Environmental Science. UKZN’s Pollution Research Group was also represented.

Modi welcomed WRC CEO Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, and noted that the support of the WRC had contributed to the success of the UKZN team working within the WEF nexus. He also thanked organisations such as the ARC and SAWS for challenging UKZN to produce the standard of work expected by the WRC.

Modi thanked Honorary Professor Graham Jewitt of the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education for his insight, ideas, and continued support of UKZN, and thanked the Pro Vice-Chancellor for African Cities of the Future, Professor Rob Slotow, for his collaboration.

Modi noted that the team now working within CTAFS had trained more than 20 postgraduate students - 60% of whom are African women - through WRC projects to contribute to expanding South Africa’s expertise in the water sector since 2013. CTAFS is leading three flagship WEF nexus projects with the WRC, which Modi said would be successful and produce important knowledge thanks to the team’s experienced collaborators.

Naidoo, who developed the WRC’s focus on the WEF nexus in 2012, presented in the opening session of the workshop. He thanked UKZN for hosting the event, and congratulated the community of practice for their achievements, saying these had exceeded the WRC’s expectations.

‘The southern African region has become a hotspot of knowledge production in the WEF nexus, and UKZN has become an epicentre of that hotspot,’ said Naidoo.

‘Not only are we building the knowledge tree further, and building the human capital we want around this, but this is the repository of knowledge that is going to start advising how this goes into practice,’ said Naidoo.

Naidoo addressed the global development problematique, discussing challenges of population and resource intensive economic growth paths that precipitate the need for improved WEF nexus thinking and planning for the future to inform climate change policy, settlement design, integrated project investment, improved human dignity, and improved policies.

Presentations on WEF nexus research covered topics including the urban nexus and transformative pathways towards resilient cities, developing guidelines for WEF nexus implementation, food and nutrition security, catchment-based assessments, sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, sustainable local livelihoods and wellbeing, and more.

The second day focused on building partnerships in the region and beyond, plans to publish a book on the WEF nexus to provide a knowledge synthesis for the work done in southern Africa, and the establishment of the Southern Africa WEF Nexus Network (SAFWEN), a regional community of practice for the WEF nexus.

‘We look forward to future meetings resulting from these synergies that the WRC will make happen for this community of practice,’ said programme chair Professor Sylvester Mpandeli.

Words and photograph: Christine Cuénod


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UKZN Alumni Entertained in Cape Town

UKZN Alumni Entertained in Cape Town
UKZN Cape Town based alumni and UKZN staff members.

UKZN’s Alumni Relations Office organised two successful get-togethers in Cape Town.

The first event on 13 March was an afternoon tea date hosted by the Alumni Relations team at The Cape Grace Hotel on the Waterfront.

President and Chair of Convocation, Mr Fanle Sibisi and Acting Executive Director of Corporate Relations, Ms Normah Zondo warmly welcomed everyone. Guests were provided with an overview of the current events at their alma mater, the opportunity to network with each other and an excellent selection of eats and refreshments to enjoy.

On the following day, the second event comprised a three-course dinner and an entertaining and informative talk by UKZN alumna, Ms Les Aupiais.

The well attended event provided an enjoyable opportunity for alumni, donors and friends of UKZN to renew old acquaintances, meet fellow alumni and be updated on developments at their alma mater.

Aupiais’s address was titled: Don’t Put your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs Worthington…..the profession is overcrowded and the struggle’s pretty tough and admitting the fact, she’s burning to act, that isn’t quite enough…it wasn’t!’

The presentation included a series of witty anecdotes on her career and life experiences and conveyed a positive and encouraging message to the audience.

Sibisi, in his address highlighted recent developments that had taken place at the University and encouraged everyone in the audience to support the University in whatever way they could.

Zondo welcomed guests, introduced speakers and helped answer the many questions posed.

Guests were given information packs containing a selection of UKZN publications and a corporate gift.

Words: Finn Christensen

Photographs: Nomcebo Msweli


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Informative and Enlightening “Onboarding” Session

Informative and Enlightening “Onboarding” Session
New employees at the University’s first “onboarding” gathering in 2020.

UKZN’s Human Resources (HR) Division runs a two-day “onboarding” programme at the beginning of each quarter to familiarise new employees with the policies and procedures of the University.

At the first session for this year, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Nana Poku welcomed employees to a ‘transformative, research-intensive Institution,’ highlighting UKZN’s position in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 and encouraging employees to contribute towards the Institution’s global recognition.

Poku focused on the future of UKZN and explained initiatives that would be run over the next three to five years, including investments in virtual and interactive lectures and establishing a “University City” that forms partnerships with businesses and communities within a kilometre radius of each campus. ‘I’m giving you a vision of a University that is not remotely timid,’ said Poku. ‘We are ambitious and we want to play a very important role in the community because there’s a moral and ethical obligation to solve real problems in the world we live in,’ Poku said.

Executive Director: Human Resources, Dr Siphelele Zulu discussed his Division’s role in adding value to the Institution and its responsibility in supporting the University’s academic project. Zulu stressed the Division’s mission of attracting, retaining and developing the best talent and referred to a new performance management system - the Line of Sight - aimed at improving services. Zulu also spoke about the new employee wellness programme which offers 24-hour free and confidential, personal and life management support telephonically in all South Africa’s official languages.

Acting Registrar: Dr Kathy Cleland’s presentation examined the College module and the organisational structure of the University following the merger in 2004 as well as the importance of the Central Applications Office (CAO) for undergraduate applications.

Director for Teaching and Learning, Dr Tilly Moodley spoke on the doctoral review project being undertaken at a national level.

Dean of Research Professor Urmilla Bob concentrated on Goal 2 of the University’s Strategic Plan (2017-2021) of achieving excellent high impact research, innovation and entrepreneurship. Bob listed InQubate as an office that promotes student entrepreneurship, saying: ‘We want to drive entrepreneurship because we have a world that is collapsing economically. We cannot train job seekers we have to start training job creators and that’s what we want to do as a University.’

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photograph: Albert Hirasen


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