The first NRF-DST Research Chair in the College of Law and Management Studies Professor Betty Mubangizi recently made a presentation as part of the municipality’s annual strategic planning workshop held recently.

One of the main objectives of Mubangizi’s Research Chair in Sustainable Local (rural) Livelihoods, based at the College’s School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (SMIG), is to add to the capacity of researchers and public administrators to formulate and support effective public administration processes in responding to poverty and social exclusion.

One of the ways of doing this is through the establishment of strong linkages between Higher Education Institutions, public administrators and civil society structures in rural settings.

Mubangizi presented to councillors, executives and traditional leaders of Matatiele Local Municipality, with her presentation set against the objectives of her Research Chair that resonate with the vision and mission of the Municipality.

The presentation emphasised the value of soft skills in governance processes, networks and partnerships in implementation processes, as well as leadership and inclusivity in the pursuance of the municipality’s vision and mission.

She advised of the value of identifying pockets of excellence within the Municipality with a view to learning from them and to duplicate excellence.

Further, she discussed the NRF’s ideals of expanding the reach of research and increasing numbers of postgraduate students. Following previous visits to Matatiele, Mubangizi established links with, not just municipal officers, but also with other organisations that have an interest in rural development.

One of the outcomes of these engagements was to publicise the University’s postgraduate programmes. Already, a number of postgraduate students have been recruited to UKZN from these engagements. Two master’s students and one PhD student are currently registered under her supervision.

In thanking Mubangizi, Mr Momelezi Mbedla, the Municipal Mayor, was grateful that the University of KwaZulu-Natal was interested in the development of Matatiele’s skills base.

Dr Tsepang Nakin, the Municipal Manager, was particularly keen on exploring the possibility of raising funds to sponsor postgraduate students whose research would broaden the knowledge base of the Municipality while contributing to better development strategies.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga