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TMALI announces big plans

Thabo Mbeki, former South African President & TMALI Patron and Chancellor of Unisa

The Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI) held its first interactive session for 2020 where TMALI students had a robust interaction with the former President of South Africa and Chancellor of Unisa, Thabo Mbeki, who is the patron of the institute. Mbeki shared his wisdom with attendees about various continental issues that students raised.

In her opening and welcoming address, Prof Zodwa Motsa, Executive Director of Leadership and Transformation in the Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Unisa, indicated how blessed the university was to have a chancellor of such calibre. She applauded the chancellor for continuing to generate knowledge, adding that "once you stop generating knowledge, you are dead. Everyone present will benefit from this interaction." She encouraged the students to have dialogues that would build the African continent.

Former TMALI student, Mofihli Teleki, gave a testimony of how the short course he studied at TMALI helped advance his career and knowledge. Teleki is the Head of Communications at the Commission for Gender Equality. Reflecting on his student journey, he said being part of the institute motivated him to register for a PhD and opened up opportunities, such as being invited to international conferences. He encouraged everyone to determine the kind of change agents they wanted to become and said that they needed to address these from an African intellectualism perspective. He further attested to the fact that most scholars across the world are interested in the work that TMALI is doing.

Dr Edith Phaswana, Acting Head of TMALI, gave an overview of what the institute is about and how Unisa and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation established this strategic institute to invest in thought leaders and change agents for the renewal of Africa. Phaswana also announced that a new school, Thabo Mbeki, has been established at Unisa, which is going to be a flagship programme on the continent. The school will offer African-centred knowledge and scholarship in governance, diplomacy and state affairs with the view to advance African Renaissance and unity, tailored in the legacy of Thabo Mbeki and other African thought leaders.

TMALI lecturers of the institute were given the opportunity to provide brief overviews of their courses. They further invited everyone to apply for these courses in order to learn more about the African continent.

Dignitaries and students of TMALI

Question time

Among others, the students raised questions around the opening of borders for decolonisation, South Africa’s readiness for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the effects of global trade on Africa. In responding to some of the questions, Mbeki explained that the relationships between Africa and the European Union (EU) were also determined by the Cotonou Agreement. He emphasised that the agreement should not disadvantage African countries and other developing countries. Concerning 4IR, he acknowledged that some universities are having discussions on how to include the topic into the curriculum. He added that teachers needed to be taught about 4IR so that they can qualify to teach their students.

Answering the question of the future of National Liberation movements such as the ANC, ZANU PF and ZAPU, based on various failures, he reiterated that it was dependent on what they do and how they respond to challenges such as corruption and economic crises faced by their respective countries. On the issue of open borders, Mbeki said it was the decision of the African Union (AU) but in principle, it cannot be ignored. Some countries like Kenya, made a decision to allow citizens of East African communities to enter their countries without visas and get employment but are not allowed to vote. According to Mbeki, "that is a move towards opening borders. South Africa needs to prepare itself; however, I do not know how it is going to deal with it."

TMALI is expected to have its second interactive session between the students and its patron later in the year.

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020/03/10