KZN COGTA and UKZN Sign Significant Memorandum of Understanding
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A formal and far-reaching Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and UKZN.
The official ceremony marking the milestone was held on the University’s Pietermaritzburg campus on 30 November.
A key objective for COGTA, under the Municipal Local Economic Development Support Chief Directorate, is the formulation of strategic partnerships between the public and private sector, aimed at creating job opportunities, stimulating economic growth, improving evidence-based service delivery, skills transfer, knowledge sharing and capacity development within local government.
UKZN was identified as the technical partner and this has the potential to benefit both parties.
The aim of the MOU is to establish a relationship between the Department and UKZN in order to:
• Co-ordinate activities that will enable dual benefit in information sharing and expertise
• Monitor and evaluate the process of conducting research and generating knowledge
• Optimise capacity building and improve efficacy in knowledge management and delivery of training
• Reach an amicable and mutual achievement of the common goal of information generation and management
• Agree on and stipulate areas within which information sharing, research and evaluation will be undertaken and improved in the future
• Define the context and systems through which information will be shared and research results circulated
The overarching goal of the MOU is to improve the service that COGTA delivers to its client - Local Government - by conducting research, determining best practices and ensuring collaboration on key issues affecting local government.
The agreement, effective from 1 August 2021 to 31 March 2024, provides the umbrella under which both parties will share information, and contribute to and provide research and policy expertise on key areas such as climate change resilience; sustainable natural resource use, including ecotourism; food security; water security and the water-energy-food-nexus; land access - rights; reform and redistribution; water access - rights, reform, and redistribution; localisation of Sustainable Development Goals; support of spatial planning processes; vulnerability assessments, especially drought; disaster early warning systems; evaluation; local governance; and any other areas of mutual interest.
The MOU also allows UKZN to improve the learning experience of UKZN staff and students through opportunities to work on real-world projects; and opportunities to share expertise, enhance learning opportunities, and assist students to prepare for the transition from University to the work environment.
Furthermore, the MOU will create a platform for both parties to learn from each other and build capacity by sharing processes and methods; collaborating on publications and conferences; undertaking research and pursuing further studies; and upskilling department staff through skills transfer.
Said UKZN lead on the steering committee and Pro-Vice Chancellor for the African Cities of the Future Research Flagship Professor Rob Slotow: ‘The UKZN Strategic Plan 2017-2022 calls for improved impact of the work of the university on broader society. In order to achieve this, a close partnership with government is required, which provides avenues for aligning our teaching and learning, and the capacity of our graduates to align more closely with the practical needs of society. Importantly, MOUs such as this allow for the co-development, implementation and mainstreaming of results of research jointly with government. UKZN’s strong academic credentials can thus be deployed into key areas of need in South Africa, identified at local government level, and quickly translated into practical solutions to improve the wellbeing of our people.’
HOD Mr Thando Tubane believes the signing of the MOU is a turning point in the Department’s efforts to support the Local Economic Development mandate of municipalities. ‘Through this partnership, we are sharpening our ability to provide specialised support to our municipalities through improved capacity which will assist to find practical solutions in the quest to grow the economy of our municipalities,’ said Tubane.
Words: Sally Frost
Photograph: Ntokozo Dladla