News & Events

Gauteng Region and City of Johannesburg connect students with local government

Unisa’s Gauteng Region and the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality recently carried out a campaign aimed at connecting students with their political office bearers. The objective was 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 Unisa students and staff, 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.

 The delegation from the City of Johannesburg was led by Councillor Alex Christians, the City Council’s Chair of Chairpersons.  Amongst the delegation were chairpersons of Section 79 committees. These are committees responsible for various services and are named accordingly, for example Social Cluster, Governance Cluster and Economic Cluster.

During his opening and welcoming address, Professor Faroon Goolam, Unisa Registrar, indicated the importance of various stakeholders working together to address some of the challenges the country is facing. It is for this reason that Unisa, when initially approached, embraced the concept and agreed to partner with the City of Johannesburg in delivering this campaign. 

Clockwise from top left: Councillor Alex Christians (Chair of Chairs -  City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality), Prof. Faroon Goolam (Registrar: Unisa), Joseph Tlokana (outgoing Secretary of the Johannesburg Regional SRC) and Enoch Mafuyeka (Deputy Director: Employee Relations - City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality)

The outgoing secretary of the Johannesburg RSRC, Jacob Tlokana, told the audience that it is 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,’ he said. ‘If people are empowered with information, they will contribute meaningful input into legislative and policy development. They will also understand the how various layers/spheres of the state and that of government differ and what the role of each sphere/layer is.’

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

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

Enoch Mafuyeka (Deputy Director – Employee Relations within the City of Johannesburg) 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 Johannesburg fielded questions from the audience. 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 only during election periods
  • The visiting delegation not being representative of all political parties in council

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
  • profile chairpersons through interfacing and engaging with institutions of higher learning
  • reassert the academic and student voice in society
  • create a platform of engagement in order to strengthen and enhance the oversight role by the Legislature
  • create an awareness on the importance of inputs by institutions of higher learning
  • instil a sense of ownership by the students on issues of economic affairs

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

* By Gilbert Mokwatedi

Publish date: 2018/10/05