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Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) new Student Representative Council (SRC) leadership was sworn in at the 2021/2022 SRC Virtual Inauguration Ceremony, held on Microsoft Teams on Friday, 05 November 2021.

Dr Naseem Haniff: Acting Dean of Students and Programme Director welcomed all attendees to the DUT’s Student Representative Council 2021/2022 Virtual Inauguration Ceremony, saying that being elected to the SRC is both an honour and responsibility.

“I am delighted to congratulate the newly elected SRC members on achieving this honour. I trust that they will carry their responsibility with the gravitas and dignity that holding such a position requires. I say this for very good reason, the SRC has a structure of student governance, is a significant university stakeholder whose role within the Higher Education institution is legislated specifically through Section 35 of the Higher Education Act Number 101 of 1997. The SRC via its seat via various committees and institutional structures is therefore involved in the cooperative decision-making of the institution. In this way the student voice is involved and heard in all decision-making at DUT,” she stressed.

She then introduced Mr Silindokuhle Ndzalela: Outgoing Deputy SRC President who expressed his heartfelt gratitude to DUT students for entrusting them with the great task of representing them in the highest decision-making structures at DUT.

“It is always expected that leadership will come with a lot of challenges but no one would have imagined that the year 2020/2021 would bring us a global crisis. I must express that being a leader during this trying and difficult time gave us tremendous responsibility and a task into making sure that we work as a collective. It was a test of character for us. To the University Management, we appreciate your commitment to the course of duty although we had our disagreements here and there. We appreciate your positive engagement and your efforts in trying to resolve each and every issue that might have been there; and your effort in trying to make sure that the smooth transition to the ‘new normal’ did not go unnoticed. To the incoming SRC the secret is doing your best and serving with a clear conscience, take critics in good faith. I wish you all the best of luck in making sure that all student issues are resolved at all patriarchal times,” he said.

Mr Lwando Masethi: Incoming SRC President said: “We would like to thank all DUT students which are majority stakeholders of the University for believing in us and also entrusting us to continue leading them.”

Giving his acknowledgement and appreciation to the outgoing SRC for its contributions to the University during the height of COVID-19 was DUT’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Thandwa Mthembu, in his keynote address.

“Indeed, you led during a period of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) when the world battled, and still continues to battle, this debilitating global pandemic. During these challenging times, you exercised your role and function in a collaborative manner with other stakeholders of the University. You presented yourselves as co-creators of sustainable solutions for DUT and its people. We acknowledge you might have demanded this and that during the course of your term. Inevitably, demands that are not predicated on a shared vision for the University, our region and our country, not predicated on unity of purpose, not predicated on facts and evidence, are bound not to lead to progressive and sustainable solutions. Many of such solutions became possible during your term because of all the points of convergence we were able to reach,” he conveyed.

Prof Mthembu indicated further that whilst there is the battle of the COVID-19 pandemic, unrest action was also experienced that claimed many lives mainly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“The outgoing SRC took initiative to rebuild not only the communities around us, but the university, too. You demonstrated great innovative and adaptive skills that leaders need to possess to inspire, to influence, to respond to and initiate, change in our challenging environment. You demonstrated the new DUT WAY of shared responsibility and accountability, commitment and compassion amongst other values and principles we hold dear and act intentionally to embed in our lives,” he stressed.

Prof Mthembu indicated that this is DUT’s second year of online voting.
“We continue to deepen our student democracy in this manner. Management would not have transitioned to digitalised elections without the active support and ownership of students as the end-users of the system. It is through your buy-in that elections have been successfully conducted electronically. Moving from 6 436 voters in 2018 to 13 388 in 2021 – more than a 100% increase – after online voting had been introduced, tells a good story about deepening student democracy. Your legitimacy as a leader derives from a combination of factors, most significant of which is voter turnout,” indicated Prof Mthembu.

He explained that each time the University inaugurates a new SRC, it does so not only fulfilling its duty, but does so with the hope that the incoming SRC will take the University to greater heights.
“May you be that SRC that will leave an indelible mark; that SRC that will make DUT Different, Upended and Transformed,” he said.

Prof Mthembu also reminded DUT leadership about the DUT Strategy, ENVISION2030.
“DUT has values and principles you must not just espouse, but must live. They are the cornerstone of our operations and institutional culture. In my 2020 State of the University Address, I explained that our values and principles must be the glue that binds us all. They are, in fact, the glue that binds our two DNA strands, namely ‘innovative and entrepreneurial’ and ‘people-centred and engaged’. Our new DUT Way is predicated on our values and principles, specifically, and on our DNA, generally,” he explained.

Prof Mthembu also relayed that he has done a series of videos that explain what ENVISION2030 entails. He urged leaders to familiarise themselves with what DUT stands for so that they could contribute to this significant and revolutionary growth trajectory DUT is on.
“The DUT Way is also about you being creative, innovative, entrepreneurial and adaptive leaders ready to inspire, influence, respond to and initiate, change in your challenging environment, your locality, your community and your country. ENVISION2030 commits all of us to contribute towards improving the lives and livelihoods of our people. The incoming SRC needs to think hard about their contribution to this call,” he commented.

In passing her vote of thanks, Dr Haniff expressed her deep appreciation to Prof Mthembu and thanked him for his wisdom and wise counsel that he had shared.
“Our gratitude is also extended to the former Deputy President of the SRC Mr Silindokuhle Ndzalela for his handover speech to the incoming SRC. Our sincere thanks to Mr Lwando Masethi: Incoming SRC President for honouring this event and delivering his message to the DUT community,” she said.She further thanked the ITSS department, Audio Visual, Design Studio, Student Governance and Development for coordinating the entire event, Mr Masiza Ngculu and Ms Thobeka Shozi for their sterling efforts.

“Last but not least, on behalf of the organising team we cannot thank everyone enough for their attendance and participation in this great ceremony, particularly students, SRC, Student Parliament and the entire student body,” said Dr Haniff.

To view the DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Thandwa Mthembu’s full speech, go to:

Pictured: New SRC 2021/2022 leadership.

Waheeda Peters

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