News & Media

Reasserting the academic and student voice in society

Nelisiwe Baai (City of Joburg), Moipone Masalesa (Regional Director: Gauteng), and Alex Christians (Chair of Chairs: City of Joburg)

Gauteng Region and the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality recently carried out a campaign aimed at connecting students with their political office-bearers to make students aware of the role played by the legislative arm of the City Council. The event, titled Know your Legislature in the City of Johannesburg, took place at Unisa’s Science Campus.

Participants included students and staff of Unisa, as well as political office-bearers and officials of the City of Johannesburg. Unisa students who participated in the event came from the Science Campus, the Johannesburg Regional Service Centre, and the Ekurhuleni Regional Service Centre.

Councillor Alex Christians, the City Council’s Chair of Chairs, led the delegation from the city. Amongst the delegation were chairpersons of Section 79 Committees. These are committees responsible for various services, such as Social Cluster, Governance Cluster, and Economic.

During his opening and welcoming address, Unisa Registrar Professor Faroon Goolam indicated the importance of various stakeholders to work together to address some of the challenges the country is facing.

An informed community is an empowered community

It is for this reason that when the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality approached universities in greater Johannesburg area to pitch the idea of having a campaign or activity aimed at connecting students to the political office-bearers within the Municipality, Unisa, embraced the concept and agreed to partner the City in delivering this campaign.

The outgoing secretary of the Johannesburg Regional RSRC, Jacob Tlokana, told the audience that it was imperative that public representatives in various spheres of government are accessible to communities and constantly share info with such communities so that the communities are informed.

“An informed community is an empowered community. If people are empowered with information, they would contribute meaningfully input to legislative and policy development. They would also understand the how various layers/spheres of the state and that of government differ and what the role of each sphere/layer is,” he said.

Prof Faroon Goolam (Registrar: Unisa)

Students want access to resources

Tlokana pointed out that students want access to resources aimed at enhancing their studies, be it WI-FI, study spaces, job opportunities and general improvement of infrastructure.

Councillor Christians and his team took students through the structure of the Council; role of the legislative arm; role of executive, etc. A presentation on the role of cluster committees was also delivered.

Enoch Mafuyeka, Deputy Director: Employee Relations of the City of Joburg, presented on opportunities provided by the City of Johannesburg in terms of studies, funding and employment.

Dr Sello Tsoabisi from Unisa’s Department of Public Administration and Management gave feedback on how he viewed local government’s way of responding to community demands and expectations.

At the end of the session, the delegation from the City of Joburg fielded questions from the audience. Some of the questions revolved around the following:

  • Lack of employment opportunities for young people.
  • Lack of funding for studies and for business purposes.
  • Inadequate delivery of services
  • Politicians only being visible to communities during election period
  • Visiting delegation not being representative of all political parties in council

Christians and his team answered the questions.

At the end of proceedings, both Unisa and City of Joburg representatives exchanged pleasantries.

What is the aim of the campaign?

Objectives of the Know your Legislature in the City of Johannesburg campaign are, amongst others:

  • To make students aware of the existence, role, and importance of the legislative arm of the municipality.
  • To profile chairpersons through interface and engaging with institutions of higher learning.
  • To reassert the academic and student voice in society.
  • To create a platform of engagement in order to strengthen and enhance the oversight role by the Legislature
  • To create an awareness on the importance of inputs by institutions of higher learning
  • To instil a sense of ownership by the students on issues of economic affairs

Other universities that also participated in this campaign at their respective campuses are Wits University and the University of Johannesburg.

You can read the presentations as follows:

Fiona Mahlori (Student Development: Unisa)

Joseph Tlokana (Outgoing Secretary: Johannesburg RSRC)

Avhasei Makhado (Coordinator: Florida RSC) delivered the vote of thanks on behalf of Unisa.

Students were actively involved in asking questions of the delegation from the City of Johannesburg.

*By Gilbert Mokwatedi

Publish date: 2018-10-10 00:00:00.0