Walter Sisulu University in bid to revive SA's second poorest town


An urgent intervention to haul the country’s second poorest town out of the depths of despair saw the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) pen a historic agreement with an Eastern Cape municipality recently.

In a bid to change the lives of its people, Ntabankulu Local Municipality signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) with WSU to mark the initial stages of a crusade aimed at job creation, skills development and enhanced levels of education.

With the drying of the ink was cemented a momentous occasion for the municipality as the pact signalled its first ever partnership with a University in a capacity-building initiative.

“WSU cannot be an ivory tower that stands alone at a distance. Instead, we must use our academic, research and community engagement proficiencies to capacitate our communities to confront their social ills. We too have a mandate to play a critical role in the enhancement of service delivery to our communities,” said Interim Vice Chancellor Prof Khaya Mfenyana.

Ntabankulu mayor Vusumzi Mgoduka lauded efforts by the University in extending a much-needed helping hand to provide aid in a desperate situation for the town.

The unprecedented agreement will see the University using its broad knowledge and resources to capacitate town officials, councillors and traditional leaders; train entrepreneurs; establish exchange programs; conduct research and learning; as well as formulate and implement policies, strategies and sector plans for local economic and rural development.

“This is the dawn of a new day for our town, and we will ensure that we play ball with the University to ensure we rise from obscurity. As political leaders, it’s essential that we foster, maintain and develop such relations for the benefit of the poor,” said Mgoduka.

WSU Mthatha Campus Rector Prof Mlungiseleli Jadezweni said the agreement presents an exciting opportunity for the institution to showcase how powerful a tool research is in regenerating fledging regressive development and fledgling economies through knowledge and scientific-based solutions.

He cited the 14 chartered accountants WSU has at its disposal and their potential to help the town produce better audits reports.

“We have the resources to ensure this partnership is a success – but the work must start now and it must start with you. You will be the champions of this undertaking and it will be up to you to drive this, we will merely provide the tools,” said Jadezweni.

Unemployed local Stanford Qhomoyi (54) said the town was in a state of incredible distress and welcomed the intervention.

“We need this initiative to work so we can start to attempt to right the wrongs within this town. Let’s hope our politicians and town officials are ready to accept the help being offered, for the good of our people,” said Qhomoyi. 

Image: WSU Interim Vice Chancellor, Prof Khaya Mfenyana, addresses delegates before moments before penning the agreement with Ntabankulu Local Municipality.