Ex SANParks CEO elected university leader

Mbombela - Former South African National Parks (SANParks) chief executive Dr David Mabunda has been elected to lead the newly established University of Mpumalanga (UMP).

Mabunda parted ways with SANParks at the end of March when his second term lapsed and was elected UMP council chairperson last week.

“As council we will get down to work in a matter of weeks starting with our own induction which will be a form of learning,” Mabunda told African Eye News Service on Thursday.

“Council also needs to be educated on its fiduciary responsibilities and to know that its role is oversight, policy-making, strategy, governance and risk management.”

Mabunda said he was looking forward to working with his deputy Charmaine Mabuza and the rest of the 16-member council.

The interim council structure was extended by Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande in February this year until August where the full time council was appointed.

The duty of the council is to provide strategic leadership to the new university and ensure that it delivers on its educational mandate.

“We want to reassure society that we are not building another ivory tower that will be far removed from the reality of its society… [we] will produce socially conscious graduates…

“Although the seat of the University is in Mpumalanga, it will be a national, continental and international university capable of attracting students not just from its immediate communities but the world over,” he said.

Mabunda added that the council will not interfere with the day-to-day duties of the university’s Strategic Management Team (SMT) but would complement their work.

“We are not there to compete with the Vice Chancellor and her management team but to help them achieve the university’s goals… We will endeavour that UMP becomes a university of choice in 21st Century,” said Mabunda.

The university’s Vice Chancellor Professor Thokozile Mayekiso is currently a deputy Vice Chancellor at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She will assume her duties at UMP on 1 November.

Member of UMP’s SMT Professor John Shongwe welcomed the appointment of the full council.

“We are looking forward to working with these great men and women. It gives the management of the university a great sense of gratification and satisfaction knowing that we will be working with cool-headed and noble citizens,” said Shongwe.

He added that with Mabunda leading the council, UMP is expected to flourish.

“Dr Mabunda is a seasoned executive and an astute scholar. He has led the interim council and knows how to captain the ship,” he said.