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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) Department of Student Governance and Development hosted its Second Annual Vuna Leadership Academy (VunaLA) Awards at the Indumiso campus in Pietermaritzburg on Monday,14 November 2022.

The ceremony was held to celebrate student’s behaviour that is aligned with the values advocated in the ENVISION2030 strategy of the university. The awards were bestowed on the most talented, exceptional students and young leaders from both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

The event began with an amazing performance by the DUT Midlands Ingoma. DUT Student Governance Administrative Officer: Lungile Ngcobo and DUT Durban Communications Administrative Assistant Nkululeko Mbatha collectively facilitated the programme.

“The purpose of the event is to celebrate students that have been participating in the Vuna Leadership Academy in 2022. I would also like to state that the academy is also part of the Sikusekele-We’ve Got You, which is collaboration between DUT Student Governance and Development, Student Housing and Residence Life, Sports Administration and the Centre for Excellence Learning and Teaching (CELT). There are student structures that form part of the Academy which includes the Student Representative Council (SRC), Disability Unit, Faculty Representatives, Central Housing Committee (CHC), and many others that are within the leadership structures,” elaborated Ms Ngcobo.

Delivering the official welcome was Dr Joe Molete: DUT Midlands Campus Director who extended a warm welcome to the student leadership led by the SRC, students in attendance and all the nominees. He also expressed his gratitude for the award ceremony being hosted in one of the Midlands campuses as they usually travel to Durban campuses to attend such events like this.

“We are here to acknowledge the good work that the Vuna leadership colleagues have done, not only to acknowledge them but also to recognise them. I would like to thank and encourage them to continue with the good work. We are proud to host these awards ceremony in recognition of the contribution of our students to the university culture in line with our ENVISION2030. We congratulate our winners; however, we also recognise those who may not have been nominated or chosen for awards as the journey has been a collaborative effort. In a context such as these leadership awards, we must acknowledge even those who have not been awarded for their effort and contribution, as it is worthy of celebration. We hope that through these awards we can motivate the future generation of DUT students to emulate this worthy example which has been set by today’s winners,” said Dr Molete.

Dr Molete also emphasized the significance of having an attitude and culture of acknowledging, recognising and encouraging everyone for their great work.

Public Relations and Communications Management Student and 2021 award student winner: Miss Anele Mkhize shared her reflection as a previous winner and stated that her confidence has improved immensely after being part of the Vuna Leadership programme. She added that her perception about leadership has changed as she used to think that being a leader requires a person who is perfect in everything that they do and that left unnecessary self-inflicted pressure.

“This year I decided to fully commit myself to one sporting code which was rugby. I was elected as the captain and chairperson for our rugby committee, but unfortunately had complications which included a dislocated shoulder, damaged ligaments and broken clavicle bone at the very beginning of the season and that made it impossible for me to play for three months. That experience taught me that being a leader requires me to have a positive influence and good attitude on my team members, to guide and grow them. Through all the hardship we managed to pull through,” explained Ms Mkhize.

In his keynote address, Dr Maditsane Nkonoane: DUT Registrar, said a leader is not just a person who leads but a person who also inspires others.

“The Vuna leadership award ceremony is a celebration of students who when there was uncertainty, came together with the university to forge solutions. These are student leaders who have adapted during the most trying times of South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal, so they deserve this kind of honour and recognition. I am encouraging students to participate in different student leadership structures, as I feel that the DUT needs to cultivate a culture of student engagement,” said Dr Nkonoane.

He also emphasized that at the end of the day we are all winners but in this case, we chose the best amongst equals.

Handing out the awards were Mr Sihle Nhanhla Mbanjwa: Acting Director; Student Services at the Midlands campus and Mr Masiza Ngculu, Manager: Student Governance and Development.

The list of awards and awardees are as follows:

  • Exemplary Leadership Award: Miss Anele Mkhize
  • Agent of Change Award: Miss Nompumelelo Queen Ngcobo
  • Programme of the Year: Ikusasalentsha
  • Inclusion & Advocacy: Mr Christophe Djuma
  • The most consistent: Miss Alrasheed Mustafa
  • Salute to Loyalty: Mr Lindokuhle Sibisi
  • Engagement Champion: Miss Zizipho Cata
  • Unmatched/Stand out Performer: Miss Anele Mkhize
  • Most Determined: Mr Ntokozo Joyful Gcabashe
  • Forever with Us: Mr Cebolenkosi Buthelezi
  • Unmatched Dedication: Mr Siphelele Msibi

Subsequently, all the 2021/2022 SRC members were given awards in recognition to the leadership skills that they projected during their era.

Concluding the awards ceremony and delivering closing remarks was, Mr Sihle Mbanjwa who extended his sincerest gratitude to all the students who attended the 2022 VunaLA awards ceremony, the speakers and the organising committee for their dedication and support in ensuring that the event becomes a huge success.

Pictured: The VunaLA winners with the Dean of students, Dr Clement Moreku and Mr Masiza Ngculu: Student Governance and Development.

Photography: Vusi Dlamini/Khulasande Tshayile

Zanele Mashaba/Nomvelo Zulu

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