‘She reigns’ – new MUT Council Chairperson, Sanelisiwe Mnyandu, brings change to her alma mater

Press release statement

For immediate release: 6 September 2022

Submitted by: The Department of Marketing & Communications

Via email: mufamadi.azwi@mut.ac.za

 

‘She reigns’ – new MUT Council Chairperson, Sanelisiwe Mnyandu, brings change to her alma mater

 

Sanelisiwe Mnyandu, MUT Council Chairperson

It was British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, who delivered what came to be known as the “Winds of Change” speech during his address to the Parliament of South Africa in 1960. In it, he not only communicated the British government’s policy departure away from colonialism and support for apartheid, but also the undeniable truth that change was inevitable. Over the years, ‘Winds of Change’ has become a common phrase for describing the kind of change that makes society more equitable.

It is the Winds of Change that are sweeping through Mangosuthu University Technology (MUT) today. The institution as we know it is changing for the better, in several ways. Significantly, women are taking up their rightful positions in the leadership of the institution. The old days of university studies being a male domain have come to an end, with more females registering for university education at MUT than ever before. The recent graduation ceremonies at the University, held in August, saw 58% of females (1,608) graduate, compared to 42% of males (1,151). This was further confirmation that change is here.

For the new Chairperson of the MUT Council, Sanelisiwe Mnyandu, these statistics are the equivalent of a dream start to her tenure. She was elected by the MUT Council to this position during its special sitting on 14 July 2022 after the previous chairperson stepped down. Her election to the top of the MUT governance structure is nothing short of historic. Hers is a story of firsts.

A story of firsts

Mnyandu is the first female Chairperson of the MUT Council since the institution’s establishment 43 years ago. Being elected to lead the University’s highest decision-making body presents Mnyandu with a challenge that she has been yearning for.

“It means that I carry on my shoulders the responsibility to shape the future view of the Mangosuthu University of Technology Council and the broader community on female leadership, and more so, the unveiling of the true dynamics of being a female in a leadership role at the apex of an institution,” she said. “I must validate the progressive truth which was communicated by Council through my election: it is intentional in being an equal opportunity Council that advances diversity from top to bottom leadership.”

But even Mnyandu admits that being the first female Chairperson of the MUT Council would undoubtedly take a bit of getting used to for some. The flip side to this leadership coin is that having a new leader is also an opportunity to approach things differently.

“It automatically means working the ground anew as this is an unknown introduction of leadership, completely foreign and never been tried before,” said Mnyandu. “It increases the need for unlearning to enable new learnings.”

Mnyandu is also the first graduate of MUT to be appointed Chairperson of the MUT Council. She has a long history of serving MUT, which stems from her student days.

In service of her alma mater

When Mnyandu first joined MUT to read for her undergraduate diploma, her love affair with her alma mater also started. It was during her undergraduate days, reading for a Diploma in Human Resource Management, that she met academics like Professor Logan Naidoo, who were positive examples and mentors for Mnyandu. She holds a Diploma in Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Technology in Human Resource Management, both from MUT.

But Mnyandu was never an ordinary student, and she was certainly not driven by ordinary ambitions. At the heart of her ambitions was her desire to contribute to MUT by serving other students. She was a member of the Student Representative Council (SRC). That she was appointed Chairperson of Council in a year where 70% of SRC members are female, including the President and Deputy President, is probably her alma mater’s way of saying to her that the meaningful change that she always wanted is here. For Mnyandu, this is a good sign.

“This means that the university is intentional in its empowerment and uplifting of women and that society is partnering with it effectively, in this regard. Women are still pushing harder to break the ceiling presented over their lives and are winning; they excel when they are given equal opportunities,” she explained.

Mnyandu is also a member of the MUT Convocation Executive. It was through representing Convocation that she initially became a member of the Council.

Breathing new life into Council

At 38, Mnyandu is one of the youngest chairpersons of university councils in South Africa. Being new and young has its advantages. One of these advantages is that you get to see the institution from a new perspective. Mnyandu has identified three priorities that she wishes to address. These are “progressive transformation for MUT in the sense of it being at a level of competitiveness with other UoTs [Universities of Technology] in terms of its infrastructure and financial sustainability”; “attracting quality personnel to enhance the level of service rendered to the students of MUT”, and “culture improvement and brand loyalty, to positively influence the perspective of personnel who are employed at MUT towards the university, so that they become the university and are not just employees of the university”.

Mnyandu explained that the priorities she identified will not just bring cosmetic changes to her alma mater but meaningful change from within the University.