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Health Minister appoints Prof Demana to serve on Multi Stakeholder Forum

Health Minister appoints Prof Demana to serve on Multi Stakeholder Forum

The Minister of Health Dr. MJ Phaahla has appointed the SMU Acting DVC Academic and Research Prof. Patrick Hulisani Demana to serve on the Forum to promote Transparency and Multi Stakeholder Engagement Regarding Medicine Availability for the period ending March 2024.

The Forum serves as an advisory body that will assist the Minister of Health in finding solutions towards the improvement of access to and availability of medicine in line with the National Strategy to improve Medicine Availability. This is important because the availability of medicines and other health commodities is an essential element in the provision of quality healthcare to South Africans.

Furthermore, the Forum seeks to contribute to improving access to and availability of medicines and through enhanced transparency, equity, efficiency, responsiveness and accountability in the supply chain by:

• Providing a structured opportunity for stakeholders to share information and stimulate dialogue about medicine access and availability and enable a deeper understanding of challenges faced;
• Allowing an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute to finding solutions to challenges identified, including making contributions to the policy making process;
• Increasing awareness and stimulating participation of the public in actions to facilitate access to and availability of medicines;
• Advising the Minister of Health on appropriate solutions rec ommended by The Forum.

Prof. Demana’s appointment is, indeed, an acknowledgement of the increasingly, significant role that SMU academics continue to play with regard to National development issues.

Prof. Demana, SMU prides itself in this great acknowledgement of your expertise at National level!

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SRC donates R250 000 to SMU Explosive Talent Project

SRC donates R250 000 to SMU Explosive Talent Project

A significant part of being a student is the need for a balance between academics and social life. This balance was, evidently, disrupted at the height of covid-19, particularly, during the hard lockdown period. A need, therefore, arises for students to be more creative in how they express themselves in response to the changes necessitated by covid-19.

What better way to cater for them than the provision of a platform through which they can showcase their talents?

It is in this context that, support for the SMU Explosive Talent Project is the SRCs way of showing students that the SMU SRC 2021/22 is “a listening and caring SRC”. This is a project that seeks to improve and better the lives of the students. Against this background, the SRC donated an amount of R250 000 to support the project; thus, ensuring that it is managed without facing financial constraints. This was done under the SRC theme: 2022 the year of revitalizing student life.

It is important to note that SMU Explosive Talent is one of the biggest student events which contributes to students’ life at the university. This is a demonstration that whilst academics are important, there is a need to strike a balance with some fun activities. This, also, remains the biggest contribution that the SRC has ever made towards this event.

“It remains a commitment of the SRC to revive student activities on campus in post-covid 19 hard lockdown period. SMU Explosive Talent is, similar to the Hands of Compassion, a project that the SRC has identified as a contribution towards improving the students’ social and academic wellbeing. We donated this money in order to ensure that the SMU Explosive Talent manages its activities without facing financial constraints. As the SRC, we lead students at a time that requires us to be more creative and innovative to combat all forms of depression experienced by the students during the hard lockdown period,” explains SRC Secretary-General, Daniel Masekwameng.

The SRC opted to support this project given that it presents a perfect alignment with the theme adopted at the beginning of the year. In this regard, the SRC President Philani Mdakane, further indicated that: “We would like to encourage all students, especially, first-year students to participate in this project. This is only the beginning of many initiatives that the SRC is going to initiate to revitalise student life,”

In response, Project Manager of SMU Explosive Talent, Sipho Mapfumari, said that “SMU’s Explosive Talent project is back to show you the greatest talent at SMU. We would like to thank the 2021/2022 SMU SRC for this generous donation to help us bring back this student event. This is the biggest contribution that we have ever received from an SRC. It is encouraging to see an SRC that is invested in servicing students. Words cannot begin to express how appreciative we are of this contribution. We are back and we will give the SMU community the best show we possibly can. We promise to give a full account of every cent that we have received. Thank you once again to the SRC”, he concluded.

SRC Donates R250 000-Newsflash-

The human face of the 2022 Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University graduation ceremonies

The human face of the 2022 Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University graduation ceremonies

“I want nothing but the best for myself and those I care about. I constantly go above and beyond to assist those around me to become the greatest versions of themselves. I’m quite proud of what I have been able to accomplish in my life, thus far”.

What s this all about you may ask? This is the story of Tshepo Aphane, a 24-year-old Biochemistry Master’s student at SMU, who graduated with his Honours degree during the recent graduations. To say that his has not been an easy life would be an understatement.

Tshepo’s life as he puts it…
“is a collection of memories, some good and some not so great, but these moments have shaped me into the person I am today, and I don’t regret anything that has happened. I consider myself to be a strong and driven individual. I have big ambitions for the world and I am prepared to put in the effort to make those dreams a reality. My motives are inherited from my family, notably my late mother, whom I, still, adore”. I am an optimist who is also practical. My mother taught me that we live in a continuously changing world, and that in order to succeed, I must have the capacity to adapt and adjust to this changing world, but more significantly, I must prepare myself to succeed.

The story that is my life-Tshepo!
Happiness and delight flooded my mother’s heart on a Tuesday morning at 02h30 on the 23 September 1997. That was my birthday! I was born in Themba Hospital in Kabokweni Village, Mpumalanga. My mother had only one child, me. I have never met my father. However, my mother lived and treated me with so much love. She had been through a lot to get to where she was before she passed away. In my eyes she succeeded in life; and I dare say, against the odds. She was a fantastic cook, a head chef at a hospital in Fourways and many other restaurants before then; who enjoyed cooking for us at home. This is most likely where my interest in cooking comes from. Without mentioning my grandma, gogo Morongwe, my story would be incomplete. I consider myself fortunate that she is still a big part of my life and has taken on the role of a mother after my mother’s passing; like the rest of the family, she is kind.

Tshepo’s story is as touching is it is interesting
“It’s been a long path for me, from losing my mother when I was 14 years old to staying alone at my mother’s house a year later. I recall, at one point, my school shoes having a hole underneath them. I had to put a piece of paper in before wearing them to make sure that stones do not prick me as I walked. I ‘d sometimes go to sleep hungry. I pushed through everything that was going on, completing my Matric with relatively excellent results, but due to a lack of funds, I had to take a gap year in 2016, in which I found a job. That gave me a perspective of some sort to the life I wanted to live.

Finally, I made it to the university. I thought my troubles were over, but to my surprise, university came with its problems; adjusting to this new world, balancing between school and everything else, found myself even repeating a module, which was a serious wake up call, “reality checks is how I paid for my mistakes”.

I decided to take everything serious, to be intentional, and to be present. I’m not saying life is amazing now but it’s good that I’m able to juggle everything life throws my way, with a smile on my face.”

I am sure that there are many stories similar to that of Tshepo. It just shows that SMU is not just about getting degrees, but giving hope and a future to the many Tshepos whose futures would have been destroyed by circumstances beyond their control.

Tshepo’s story is one of the many reasons why the recent SMU graduations are of extreme significance.
I am sure there are many Tshepos who formed part of the recent graduations. If given the chance, they, probably, would write stories of how they conquered adversity to finally attain their qualifications. How do they do it? Once may ask.

As Tshepo concluded,
“We need discipline and, above all, have an unwavering desire to face challenges as they arise. One of the finest ways to characterize my existence is as “a continuing piece of art.” I learned that we are the architects of our lives, the artists of our own destiny, through work, devotion, and determination. Every path we choose or do not take has an influence on our existence and leaves a trail like a shooting star in the night sky; the beauty of the trail is totally dependent on the nature of our actions in life.

Newsflash-SMU Graduations 2022-

SMU recently hosted a delegation from DHET as part of its oversight visit

SMU recently hosted a delegation from DHET as part of its oversight visit

Vice-Chancellor Prof Peter Mbati recently hosted a delegation from the department of higher education and training who were on an oversight visit. Led by the Deputy Director General for University Education Dr Marcia Socikwa, the delegation came to engage with the university and see progress on projects funded by the department through the Sibusiso Bengu Development Programme.

In his welcoming address to the delegation in the presence of SMU management and officials, the Vice-Chancellor said the support SMU gets from the department in particular the Sibusiso Bengu grant has assisted a lot in a range of areas. He further told the delegation that SMU has completed a restructuring programme of Senior and Executive team to ensure alignment with the new strategic plan and to allow the University to deliver on its core mandate to increase efficiency in the system.

“We also very recently had a meeting of the senior management committee with a focus on the centrality of the academic project because many times one of the challenges we face in higher education and for various reasons is that we start to drift away from why we are created as higher education institutions and our focus and energy gets invested elsewhere”, said Prof Mbati.

He further mentioned that the University went through a culture survey and many processes to reconfirm from many stakeholders of the university from Council, labour, management, staff and students about the values SMU must embrace as a university to refocus and rededicate itself to what must be done.

“There is still a lot that has to be done at SMU and the funding we receive through the Sibusiso Bengu programme and the support from the department will help us deliver projects on time”, said the VC.

“We have a new business model to allow us to be financially sustainable over a period of time. We currently also get a special dispensation grant from the department to allow us to meet our obligations as a university. The new business model sets out projects that we need to embark on including increasing our student numbers, developing new programmes, expanding on the third stream income”, continued Prof Mbati.

The DDG Dr Socikwa in response said, “I must say that when one contrasts the universities this side with the urban centred ones, you are saddened, you immediately realize the need for extensive investment”. She also said the department wants to see excellence in our institutions and remember them for the legacies created. “We really need to reimagine how we want to be and I am happy that SMU has started with a new business model, we also need to acknowledge the vast sums of money directed at SMU. The university was allocated R144 million and managed to spent 120 million. Funding was made to support 11 projects at SMU and the department would like to look at and speak about them”, said the DDG.

She further mentioned that the delegation came to appreciate the challenges but also the opportunities and to engage vigorously as required so that by the time they left, they should be in a position to confident about the objectives of these investments and are able to support the University’s initiatives with the requisite enthusiasm and energy.

“We also need to understand what is required to turn around the fate of SMU. Since the inception of the development programme SMU received over 150 million and as a department we would like to see progress on the approved projects and are uncompromising on that. It is no secret that SMU is among the universities that have been able to deliver on their projects”, said Dr Socikwa. The department praised SMU for submitting its annual report way before time and called on other institutions to emulate SMU.

The Director for Development Grants at SMU Mr Theo Bhengu took the delegation through a presentation that detailed the projects that have been completed, those underway and proposed future projects. He reported that in the first cycle (2016/17-2020/21), the HDI-DG significantly contributed to achieving SMU strategic goals as a new institution after the demerger from the University of Limpopo (UL), through the following projects:

  • Re-engineering of business processes
  • Review of governance systems
  • Document management system
  • High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscope (HRTEM)
  • Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Audit
  • Bulk Contribution to the City of Tshwane
  • Establishment or increasing capacity of strategic departments, i.e. Institutional Planning, Development (Advancement & Internationalisation), Grants Management and Infrastructure Planning and Development

He further said that SMU has made proposals for funding under the Sibusiso Bengu programme on 18 new projects that are in line with the strategic objectives of the institution across all areas.

After robust discussions, Mr Alfred Makgatho from DHET gave a brief report on the proposed projects and also mentioned that there is support for the proposed projects pending approval from the Minister. However, he advised that there were several other projects that SMU will have to revisit as they could not be supported in their current form. The department placed emphasis on the future sustainability of the institution so that the University is able to fund its other programmes.

The CFO Mr Eminos Manyawi expressed the University’s appreciation to DHET for the continuous support and committed to furnish the department with all necessary documents and reports. He further pleaded for further funding to finance planned projects. During the tour of campus, the delegation was taken through the premium 2000 beds facility which is at an advanced stage towards completion, the bulk water project currently under way, the electron microscope unit and other projects.

The visitors were later taken on a campus tour to see amongst others, the premium 2000 beds student accommodation facility financed by the department, the facility for relocation of the Electron Microscope Unit that is being renovated. Once completed, the facility will ensure stability of the new High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscope(HRTEM). They were also shown the bulk water project currently underway around campus.

The purpose of the Sibusiso Bhengu Development Programme is to decisively redress the inequalities that have impacted the development and sustainability of the HDIs and to contribute to their further development as strong universities, in a diversified system, which are socially embedded and responsive, are highly regarded and valued, including by the communities from which their students are drawn, and which produce both graduates and new knowledge that can make a contribution to socio-economic development in local, national, regional and international contexts.

Newsflash DHET Visit


SMU Congratulates Prof Peter Mbati on his 2nd Year Anniversary as Vice-Chancellor

SMU Congratulates Prof Peter Mbati on his 2nd Year Anniversary as Vice-Chancellor

Exceptional leadership and accelerated delivery – features of Mbati’s two-year tenure as Vice-Chancellor of SMU

This week marks the second year since Prof Peter Mbati took the reins at SMU as Vice-Chancellor. A cursory look at the past two years offers a picture of hope for this institution. Armed with a 5-year strategic plan, the Vice-Chancellor has been hands on to ensure that this fledgling University deals with its challenges and progresses to realize its full potential in the higher education space.

Under Prof Mbati’s leadership, SMU has ramped up the delivery of new infrastructure projects on campus and the revitalization of aging ones including the premium 2,000 bed student accommodation facility, the 800 bed student accommodation project, the bulk water project, campus perimeter wall, installation of high mast lights, CCTV cameras and a drone to complement the campus security efforts, renewal of various sporting facilities, staff and students cafeteria, building of pharmacy labs, maximization of library space and modernization of the facility, forklift upgrade of the campus ICT infrastructure, upgrades and maintenance of student residences, and tarring of the campus ring road, among many other planned and ongoing projects.
Some of the projects have been completed while others are at an advanced stage of accomplishment.

Most notably, the centrality of the academic enterprise is firmly on the Agenda of Management and key strategies are being introduced and implemented to ensure the University realizes its key strategic objectives in relation to the core business.

The Vice-Chancellor is also on a crusade to build and maintain relations with key stakeholders internally and externally to ensure they play a meaningful role in building a successful SMU. Moreover, the University has also recently filled in key positions including that of the Chief Operations Officer and several Directors to set the institution on a new trajectory of success.

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Management committed to turning around the University by entrenching the centrality of the Academic Enterprise at SMU

Management committed to turning around the University by entrenching the centrality of the Academic Enterprise at SMU

“A successful university is one where the academic enterprise is revered, enjoys special focus and remains firmly at the centre of its operations”, Prof Peter Mbati, Vice Chancellor, SMU

The SMU Senior Management Committee (SMC) is chaired by the Vice Chancellor and is composed of members of the Executive Team, Deans of Schools and Directors of various portfolios. At its meeting held on 25 April 2022, the SMC observed that:

“It is common knowledge that the SMU academic project has not been adequately placed at the centre of what the University does, as the concerns of organized labour and students have arguably often crowded out the requisite support to be, ordinarily, provided to the academic project of the University. As part of the institutional effort and renewal to ensure that the academic project of the university takes centre stage of what the University does through the various stakeholders, academic employees, support staff, students and labour, the Senior Management Committee resolved that a special meeting of the senior management be held to discuss this matter dispassionately”.

As a consequence, a special meeting of the SMC was held on 23 May 2022 to engage on this critical point. A well thought-out presentation by Deans’ of Schools foregrounded critical points that were pivotal to the subject matter, including academic leadership at various levels. The crux was eventually to re-imagine the modus operandi of the academic enterprise in a bid to maximize its efficiency and effectiveness. A high level summary of some of the issues discussed is presented below:

  1. When does a University cease to be a university? (a series of lectures/dialogues were suggested to unravel the intricacies of this question).
  2. Politicization of the SMU academic space and its negative impact on the academic project as a whole, and the reputation of the University.
  3. The implementation of the SMU procurement policy and its unintended consequences on inefficiencies experienced in the broader academic teaching and research environment.
  4. Standard of service and urgency received from supporting departments.
  5. Striking a balance between “Corporatization of Universities with more resources towards what is considered non-core business and compliance reporting versus resourcing the academic core functions, including research and innovation.
  6. Resource allocation and prioritization of the academic project activities in a financially constrained SMU.
  7. Audit of employee efficiency (are all employees adequately and gainfully employed, and what can be done practically to optimize the overall employee performance?)
  8. Implementation of the New Business Model and improved third stream income generation.
  9. Better oversight over infrastructure and maintenance projects, ensuring value for money. Every cent that is saved must be re-directed to the academic project.
  10. Centralized laboratories (shared laboratories) with state of the art facilities.
  11. Introduction of peer assessment and student assessment.
  12. Members of the Executives usurping powers of Deans, re versing decisions of Deans, making Deans and HoDs to look weak in the face of the constituencies they serve, including students.
  13. Re-definition of the meaning and application of the concept “student-centeredness” and where the academics rules of the universities remain sacrosanct. Balance between allowing student-activism to thrive whilst ensuring student discipline.
  14. Managers constantly browbeaten by the SRC and organised-labour.
  15. Line managers at various tiers unable to take appropriate disciplinary action against errant subordinates due to uncertainties concerning firm support from multi-layered superiors.
  16. Disruptions to the academic project due to incessant protest action by students and organized Labour has serious deleterious impact on the academic progress of our students and the reputation of the University.
  17. Aligning staffing plan to the new business model.
  18. Dialogue/discourse series on various difficult topics as we entrench the centrality of the academic enterprise in the fibre of the University’s being.

The conversation was authentic and honest as the participants identified the current challenges and moved into solution mode. In striving for the requisite academic excellence is a recognition by all, that collaboration and teamwork is essential if we are to succeed in meeting the University’s vision, mission and strategic objectives. All participants need to fully appreciate the role of their function and that of their team, in the growth and development of the University.

The Vice Chancellor has directed that the recommendations of this special meeting of the SMC be implemented by the respective line managers within an agreed reasonable time frame.

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