MUT’s 1st Research Chair delivers an international seminar

Prof Agbola

Prof Babatunde Agbola, Chair/Professor of Human Settlement, will be bringing a Science Seminar to MUT on 21 September 2017.   Prof Agbola said: “My intention is to enhance the international exposure of MUT to science research. The seminar will discuss science plans for Africa. MUT scientists will get a chance to interact with Committee members, ask
questions and derive immense scientific and professional
benefits.” The seminar is organised by the International Council for Science (ICSU) Regional Office for Africa, in conjunction with MUT, as part of the 19th Meeting of the ICSU Regional Committee for Africa (ICSU RCA) which is chaired by Prof Agbola.

The seminar offers the platform for members of the RCA to share scientific thoughts and ideas with other scientists from institutions and organisations wherever the meeting is held. The seminar, whose theme is ICSU ROA’s Africa Science Plans and the AU Agenda 2063, will feature topical presentations on The
Health-Energy-Disaster Risk Nexus in African Cities
by members of the RCA and scientists from MUT. There will also be general discussions to explore avenues for collaboration between MUT and scientists working on the implementation of the ICSU ROA Africa Science Plans.

2017 EAC yet another feather in the MUT hat

Nokulunga, second from right, receiving a token from Prof Nokwethemba Ndlazi, Acting DVC: Resources and Planning, while Acting VC, second from left, and Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: MarComms, look on

The toil by the MUT’s Marketing and Communications team from the beginning of 2017 has resulted in a very successful sixth Empowered Administrators Conference (EAC) held at Durban’s Hilton Hotel, from 4-5 September. The pouring in of more than 200 paying delegates from State Owned Enterprises, academia, government and corporations meant the real thing had begun. It was heart-warming to see old friends that have associated themselves with the EAC since 2012. There were also many new delegates, all thanks to MarComms great teamwork.

From its inception, the EAC was projected as an event that would change the lives of office administrators. EAC 2017 was no exception. This edition was billed as “A ship that will never sink”. Quite a bold claim, but well deserved!

Perhaps the story of the EAC could be told properly from the perspective of the delegates themselves. For instance, veteran EAC delegate, Philisiwe Cele from DUT, said she had seen the EAC “running strong”, while UKZN administrator, Vinotha Moodley, said what she took from the EAC 2017 was that the customer had become very central to business. She was supported by MUT’s Thembeka Mkhize. In fact, Liz Mokoena, one of the presenters from Unilever, talked about the necessity for adapting to the changing circumstances in the business environment. She said “companies would do well to heed the needs of their customers. Office administrators should improve their skills so they would remain relevant. It is also essential to focus on improving one’s personal brand”.

Annalene Maree, a delegate from MUT, said what interested her most was a presentation by Dr Manyane Makua, Senior Director: TLDC, and “I also enjoyed Junaid Bayat; very powerful and vibrant speaker. Dr Makua told us how to soar like the eagle, above our problems which may occur in our personal lives.” Annalene added that she had observed that the EAC standard was growing every year, and preparing the office professionals for current technology and office standards, and that the programme covered important areas. As they left the venue in the afternoon of day 2, the delegates felt empowered, and had been made to understand responsibility of being a Captain of the ship.

Apart from Dr Makua, MUT’s grand speakers also included Ms Xolile Ngubane, Manager at the TSC and Sr. Nomusa Mkhwanazi. Unilever has already expressed a keen interest on engaging Sr. Mkhwanazi for its CSR initiatives.

Another big part of the EAC 2017 was the corporate social responsibility that was initiated by the organisers in 2015. This year they requested delegates to donate teddy bears to ease the hearts of the abused children at Bobbi Bear. The heroine was Nokulunga Nkabinde a delegate from the DOE.  Nokulunga was acknowledged by MUT’s acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Marcus Ramogale for donating 250 teddy bears. MUT’s Ronelle Govender donated 50 teddies.  It is also worth mentioning that the EAC continued to enjoy support from MUT’s Executive Management who shared a moment with delegates at the conference gala dinner.

MUT partners with Extramarks Education to bring Mrs Universe contestants to Umlazi Township schools

Mrs Universe contestants and organisers at Menzi High School

For the first time Africa hosts the finals of the Mrs Universe competition at the Durban’s ICC on 2 September 2017.  A partnership between MUT and Extramarks Education has resulted in the 84 finalists from all over the globe participating in a schools outreach programme as part of the Mrs Universe
corporate social responsibility initiative.  Stakeholder Relations Director, Zama Sishi, said:  “When we were approached by our partner Extramarks Education to create an opportunity for the contestants to experience the township, it made sense to recommend that they visit two female-led schools in Umlazi.  On 28 August 2017 teams from Marcomms and Extramarks Education led the Mrs Universe contestants, and their publicists to Menzi and Vukuzakhe High Schools to explore possible partnership opportunities.  We were honoured to have this visit endorsed by the KZN MEC for Education, Mthandeni Dlungwane, represented by Bheki Ntuli, Director of Umlazi District.”  School principals described the event as part of their history and legacy for all Umlazi Township schools.”  Ntuli thanked MUT for the role played by Zama and Mbali Mkhize, the Senior Director of MarComms. He said they showed passion for education. He also told the contestants that his district was performing well despite discrepancies in resources, a point hammered home by Muntu Ntombela, the Principal of Menzi high School.  Both Ntuli and Ntombela acknowledged the role played by MUT’s MarComms department in getting them sponsored prizes such as lab equipment, computers and laptops. The envisaged spin-offs for this collaboration would be the Mrs Universe participants positioning these schools back in their different countries. MUT’s presence at Umlazi Township is adding value towards globalisation. It was phenomenal for the learners to really come face to face with these public figures from 84 countries.

Trisha Poona, the South African finalist in the Mrs Universe contest said they wanted to highlight the fact that women and children have rights which had to be respected. “Women and children should be allowed to take decisions about their bodies. They can say ‘no’. They should be provided with an atmosphere which would support their self-esteem,” she said. Trisha added that the main focus was to empower women.

This was a day of fun; the international representatives were entertained with the different South African cultural dances and music by Menzi and Vukuzakhe High Schools learners.

MUT appoints seasoned academic to head Research Chair – Human Settlement

Prof Agbola

Soon after her appointment as Chancellor of the University, Honourable Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of
Human Settlements, created a Human Settlement Chair at MUT. This Chair is about to blow up into something big. Recently MUT appointed Prof Babatunde Agbola, a seasoned
academic from Nigeria, to head the portfolio. Prof Agbola, whose actual position is Research Chair/Professor in Human Settlement, said his role was to “design and develop course materials for the Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Settlement and offer Master’s Degree Programmes, also in Human
Settlement. I am also able to conceptualise and implement a multi-disciplinary research agenda relevant to Human
Settlement Development and Management, and seek means to professionalise the human settlement sector.” He added that he intended to turn the programme into a Department of Human Settlement, and eventually into a Faculty of Environmental Design and Management where all aspects of the building and allied building
environment courses will be taught. As Prof Agbola puts it,  this latest move is going to make MUT a University of first choice.

Such an addition will give MUT staff with PhDs all the more reasons for staying as it will give them a chance to supervise post-grad students. It is also an indication of how seriously MUT and the
government view the issue of human accommodation.

Prof Agbola received his PhD in 1983 from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. He has been a lecturer at Nigeria’s Premier University, the University of Ibadan, Nigeria since then. Prof Agbola has been a visiting lecturer at a number of universities, in both Africa and the US.


MUT Management shows appreciation for its women staff

We feel honoured! Women that attended the event

More than 200 women that attended Women’s Day on 17 August 2017 left De Charmoy, in Verulam, north of Durban, as changed individuals. The women felt honoured, loved and respected by MUT’s Management, and the esteemed speakers, with varying backgrounds, who made presentations on various topics.

Acting DVC: Resources and Planning, Prof Nokwethemba Ndlazi, demonstrated how seriously MUT Management appreciated staff’s contribution to the well-being of MUT, and staff’s place within the MUT machine. Prof Ndlazi said staff were vital cogs in the huge MUT machine. Prof Ndlazi also, like all other speakers, impressed the women with the quality of her responses to their questions, which were mainly about being a professional woman who had to keep a number of balls in the air – being a mother, a professional, and being a wife. Prof Ndlazi pointed out that
being a woman was not easy. But to make it manageable, women were supposed to build support systems, and look out for each other.

Iris Cupido, CEO, SABC Foundation, talked to the women about being a ‘complete woman’. The ‘River Girl’, who grew up in a village called Hlokozi in the south of KZN, said women had to love themselves, and had to know who they were before they could expect others to love and respect them. Iris also emphasised the importance of
self-development and respecting one’s work, and waiting for your opportunity. “You can’t expect to be appointed to a higher position when you are not ready. You need to prepare for it. While preparing, you need to stay focused.” Iris said women needed to have the skills and attributes that would make them complete women. Responding to a
question from one of the attendees, Iris said women should reach within themselves and find the answers that would enable them to face the world with its challenges.

Nokuthula Ndaba, a University of Zululand academic, advised women to handle their finances well so their families could benefit. For her it was also very important to pass on the saving skills to the next generation so there would be continuation of the legacy.

Programme organisers also thought about the importance of the physical well-being of the women. They brought in a ‘gem’, Sister Nomsa Mkhwanazi, MUT Clinic Head, to speak about the health issues that affect women. She said most of the issues could be avoided by leading a lifestyle that would support a healthy living.

As they left the venue, the women felt they were not alone in their daily struggles. The quality of responses from speakers to the questions women asked went a long way in assuring the women that life was normal, and that they were not alone. One of the women said she was impressed by how the speakers “embraced every question and reflected it on their own personal experiences.” She described the speakers as ‘brilliant’.

MUT student inspects food sold to fellow students

Nokwanda, right, with eThekwini Municipality health inspectors, and a store owner, at one of the food outlets

You are what you eat! So says a wise saying, which must be heeded by all. This is what drives MUT’s third year Environmental Health student, Nokwanda Sikhakhane. Nokwanda initiated an inspection of the food sold to MUT students by   traders who have outlets on Mangosuthu Highway, just outside MUT. On 3 August 2017 MUT and eThekwini Municipality carried an inspection on the premises of KwaMnyandu Traders Stalls. Nokwanda said they decided to work with the store owners because the store owners sell food to MUT students. “We need to make sure the students eat food of acceptable quality. We are also going to give the vendors relevant training, given what we discovered. They are aware of the hygiene requirements, but they still need some training.”

Also, MUT is now allowing local women to collect discarded cardboards for recycling. Cash generated from selling these will be of great help to the three women, who, altogether, look after 15 children. Nokwanda, who facilitated this relationship, said training the food vendors, and recycling the used cardboard is “our effort at contributing to the green environment.” Nokwanda, an award winner, is a leading figure in caring for the environment.

MUT prepares to an entrepreneurial University

Dr van Koller addressing staff and students during SEW

The South African institutions of higher learning have shifted from being ivory towers and became true centres of learning and are thus becoming more relevant to the society’s needs. Lately the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has taken a step that will soon make these post-matric schools directly responsible for economic and social development. DHET has mandated HEIs to introduce entrepreneurailship in their curriculum. This is music to the ears of MUT, as was confirmed by the MUT staff and students during the two-day session – 1-2 August 2017, when the University took part in the first Student Entrepreneurial Week (SEW), 1-7 August 2017, whose theme was: Entrepreneurialship as a career. The SEW is a DHET initiative which seeks to deal with the unemployment problem, and inculcate the idea of economic generation and independence on the part of the young South Africans. Among the 27% of South Africans that are unemployed are the graduates. The aim of the SEW is to raise awareness of entrepreneurialship as a career option, while imparting basic entrepreneurilaship skills to students from all disciplines.

To this end, “MUT accepts its responsibility to contribute to entrepreneurship development, which is one of the strategic objectives of MUT’s Strategic Plan. MUT has a two-fold approach: to develop our students as entrepreneurs; and to become an entrepreneurial University,” said Dr Johan van Koller, Acting Senior Director – Institutional Planning and Research.

Prof Alfred Msomi, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, applauded MUT for embracing the initiative, and suggested that regular meetings be held in which clear strategies would be formulated as to how entrepreneurialship would be fused into the academic programmes. Prof Msomi further suggested that MUT alumni like Dalisu Phelago should be invited to seminars to talk to students about how they could start their own businesses. Dalisu, a former MUT student, said students should choose carefully what they would want to do, so that they would enjoy it, like he enjoys his farming. Bright Hlongwane, a first year Public Administration student, on the second day, told the students and staff that he was going to open a Bright School of Entrepreneurialship so he could pass on what he learnt at Stanford University. Bright was at the ‘Farm’ from 8-30 July 2017 to learn more about entrepreneurialship. He said there would be a meeting in Durban early next year to kick-start the school.

Lisa Mlonzi, another former MUT student, told the students about the tough road towards business success. “Begin with an end goal in mind, and work your way backwards.” Lisa has a blood analysing business. It was not easy for her when she decided to venture into “this unusual business”. But her grounding prepared her. Lisa had worked in the similar business before.

Xoli Ngubane, Manager of the Technology Station in Chemicals, (TSC), asked students to channel their ideas and questions through her directorate. The TSC grooms SMMEs.

Search for Aids cure at an advanced stage – MUT HIV/Aids Counsellor

File picture: Cebi, left, with one of the HIV/Aids researchers during her overseas visit in 2015

The search for Aids cure is at an advanced stage, so said Cebi Nkosi, MUT’s HIV/Aids Counsellor. Cebi discovered this when she was part of the annual Aids Clinical Trial Group (ACTG) in Washington DC from 23 June to 3 July 2017. Cebi said: “There is a new treatment being studied. Researchers want to introduce an injection that will be taken in the same way as the family planning medication. It will be one dose in the form of injection, every two months. This will be even better than taking one pill a day, as was announced by Dr Sibongiseni Dlomo, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health. There is also a possible cure for HIV currently being researched in France and China.”  However, Cebi added, the biggest challenge being faced in South Africa, particularly KwaZulu-Natal, is cancer, because there is still no treatment to manage the disease.

Also, as part of its commitment to the wellness of its students and staff, MUT Students Health Services Unit invited the eThekwini Municipality Clinic staff to test students on various health issues, including pap smear, HIV/Aids, and other ailments, at the Fountain, from 24-28 July 2017.

MUT donates sanitary products to its neighbour, in honour of Mandela

Daniel Krishna, right, accepts the precious gift from MUT’s Nonto Mjadu while MUT and Place of Safety members look on

In 2009 the UN declared July 18 a Nelson Mandela Day. This is the day on which the world icon was born in Mvezo, a small village on the banks of the Mbashe River in the Eastern Cape. Like everybody the world over, MUT observes this day that brings hope to the needy. Being inspired by the idea of creating a caring society, which was so central in Mandela’s heart, MUT responded to the call to help the less fortunate. On 18 July 2017, MUT donated a box full of sanitary pads, diapers and wipes to the 17 girls and eight toddlers at its neighbour, Umlazi Place of Safety. The place’s Corporate Support Administrator, Daniel Krishna, said the gesture was “very appropriate; very handy! We are grateful.”

2nd MUT RIE Week well covered by media

Prof Dlamini, middle, addresses the media at the MRC. The others are her colleagues, Prof Karabo Shale, left, and Prof Alfred Msomi

The 2nd MUT Research, Innovation and Engagement (RIE) Week conceptualised by Prof Zodwa Dlamini, DVC: Research, Innovation and Engagements in 2016, has grown even bigger. This year, it drew the attention of the media which covered a pre-event launch, during-event activities, and post-event activities. Although RIE Week commenced from 10-14 July, coverage began as early as 6 July and the reputation of MUT shot up. All of this was a result of a sustained effort to craft a professional relationship with the fourth estate. Some of the headlines on broadcast, print, and online media, were:  Mangosuthu University making strides in promoting research, 06 Jul 2017 – SABC News; Professor takes science to people to change their lives for the better, 16 Jul 2017 – Sunday Independent (Second Edition); and MUT focused on health, 20 Jul 2017 – The New Age. The coverage resulted in R2, 513, 616. 88 advertising value equivalence (AVEs) and they are still growing. The coverage was also partly as a result of the excellent contribution to the media briefing by Xolile Ngubane, Manager, TSC, and Prof Karabo Shale, Natural Sciences’ Research Professor and acting Research Director on 6 July at the SAMRC. The RIE Week 2017 was also well projected on all forms of social media, including a new Facebook page:

The major highlight of RIE Week was the signing of MOUs on 14 July 2017, with six institutions from Brazil, India, and the US. This was a very strong indication of MUT’s desire to have partnerships with international universities in a quest to be a pre-eminent University. Internationalisation is a big part of the MUT research agenda and is at the heart of Prof Dlamini. Now MUT staff and students can work on projects with their counterparts from all these institutions. The outcome of such collaborations will have a direct impact upon the University’s research standing, in line with this year’s RIE week theme: Engaging globally for local impact. The capstone event was the appreciation dinner where Prof Dlamini acknowledged the founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi and all stakeholders that have contributed to the growth of MUT in its 38 years of existence.