News & Events

Unisa student parliamentarians ready to lead

The Directorate: Student Development (DSD) in the Department of Student Affairs held a successful workshop for its Student Parliament office bearers in the Kgorong Building, Muckleneuk Campus, from 1 to 4 April 2019. In attendance were the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Student Parliament, and Speakers and Deputy Speakers of all the Regional Student Parliaments.

The workshop was designed to, amongst others, empower the student parliament office bearers with requisite skills to enable them to conduct their parliamentary work with impartiality; to familiarise them with the draft rules of Student Parliament, and to disentangle the student leadership from the prevalent violent and chaotic manner of dealing with matters of student discontentment.

Student Parliamentarians with Adv. Maseko and Dr Chalufu, Unisa Dean of Students

The workshop provided a platform for interaction and critical conversations with current and former student parliament office bearers from within and outside Unisa – including the former Deputy Speaker of the Unisa Student Parliament, Mr NJ Zungu, Institutional Student Parliament Speaker of the University of Fort Hare, Mr P Msenge,  Institutional Student Parliament Speaker of Nelson Mandela University, Mr T Nyikilana, and former National Speaker of the Unisa Student Parliament, Mr S Masiza – all of whom shared successes and challenges of their term of office and reflected on experiences, limitations and workings of student parliaments.

Amongst a myriad of great speakers and presenters at the workshop was Professor T Moloi, Head of Research in the School of Accounting at the University of Johannesburg, who reflected on his time as a former student leader and the transition to being an accomplished and respected scholar. Professor D Kotze of the Unisa Department of Political Science and former Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission for the SRC Elections, provided sage advice, which included

  • that the student parliamentarians must ensure that they are taken seriously
  • defining the role of the Student Parliament, particularly with respect to the role of oversight in so far as the SRC is concerned
  • creating sub-structures of Parliament to ensure effectiveness in carrying out its mandate and responsibilities

One of the most notable guest speakers to grace the event with her presence, was Advocate L Maseko, the former Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature and current member of the National Assembly. Apart from being one of the most decorated, well experienced and dedicated civil servants, she is a proud alumnus of Unisa. Advocate Maseko provided our student parliamentarians with a deep understanding of the intricacies and workings of our country’s parliament and those of other countries, and further provide great insights and advice regarding issues of impartiality, mediation and taking seriously the oversight role.

Various insightful presentations which captivated attendees included the opening and welcome address by the current UNISA National Student Parliament Speaker, Mr U Gwabini, and the opening remarks by the Dean of Student, Dr S Chalufu, who expressed his deepest appreciation to the DSD, under the leadership of one of our youngest Deputy Directors, Mr T Mogaladi, for putting together such an impressive leadership training and development programme for our student leaders.

Dr Chalufu lamented the ineffectiveness of the previous Student Parliament, which, amongst others, failed to sit in 2017 due to student infighting. He challenged the 2018/2019 Student Parliament office bearers to leave a legacy by being one of the structures which changes the trajectory of student governance and leadership at Unisa by epitomising efficiency and effectiveness in their conduct and operations.

Well respected political analyst and advisor to the Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Dr S Fikeni, had an in-depth and robust engagement with the student parliamentarians and, inter alia, questioned whether student leaders represent student matters or are merely advancing political agendas.

Another highlight of the workshop was the session on crucial conversations which was facilitated by Ms K Jiyane, a clinical psychologist and facilitator from Human Edge, over a period of two days. Ms Jiyane empowered the student leaders to better manage conflict both in the context of their private lives as well as in organisational setups.

The Dean of Students and the Department Student Affairs are grateful to all the colleagues and external parties for demonstrating a sense of corporate citizenship in their support of and participation in this crucial workshop aimed at strengthening democratic participation and empowering our student leaders with critical skills and competencies to guide them in their work and into the future.

* By Dr Sibusiso Chalufu, Unisa Dean of Students

Publish date: 2019/04/12