Limpopo de­vel­op­ment plan re­ceives ma­jor boost

African Times - - News - PIET RAMPEDI

THE agree­ment signed be­tween the Limpopo gov­ern­ment and Unisa will bring ex­per­tise and fresh ideas needed to boost the pro­vin­cial de­vel­op­ment plan, fast-track its in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment strat­egy and cre­ate jobs.

This is ac­cord­ing to Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment MEC Sea­paro Sekoati. He says the three-year deal will also pro­duce ground­break­ing re­search to sup­port the gov­ern­ment, de­velop skills and in­form pol­icy.

Speak­ing to African Times af­ter the singing of a Re­search Col­lab­o­ra­tive Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing be­tween the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and the con­ti­nent’s big­gest uni­ver­sity in Polok­wane on Mon­day, Sekoati de­scribed the agree­ment as a game changer in Pre­mier Stan Matha­batha’s quest to de­velop Limpopo.

The cer­e­mony was at­tended by sev­eral dig­ni­taries in­clud­ing mem­bers of the pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive, se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and Unisa Vice Chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Mandla Makhanya.

Th­ese in­clude Trea­sury MEC Rob Too­ley, Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Ish­mael Kget­jepe, Limpopo Gov­ern­ment Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Nape Nch­a­be­leng, Unisa Deputy Vice Chan­cel­lor Dr So­madona Fikeni and his col­league Pro­fes­sor Le­siba Teffo.

“The part­ner­ship will ob­vi­ously in­form and give con­tent to some of the ideas that we ac­tu­ally have as a prov­ince, but as well to make sure that as we ex­pand some of our pro­grammes, just the im­ple­men­ta­tion will go a long way in chang­ing peo­ple’s lives,” says Sekoati, who rep­re­sented Pre­mier Matha­batha at the sign­ing cer­e­mony.

“I have given ex­am­ples that we have an in­dus­trial path that we have cho­sen as a prov­ince. For us to be able to fol­low that path, it means that it will not just be some­thing that is au­to­matic. We are go­ing to need ideas; we are go­ing to need ex­per­tise; we are go­ing to need re­search work that is go­ing to go with that. And that is go­ing to strengthen what we are al­ready do­ing and the gen­eral pop­u­lace will be able to ben­e­fit out of the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­grammes that we will be set­ting up in the prov­ince.”

In terms of the MOU, both par­ties will co-op­er­ate in the fol­low­ing re­search ar­eas:

· Gov­ern­ment pri­or­i­ties and Limpopo De­vel­op­ment Plan tar­gets;

· Pro­vin­cial Fiscal Pol­icy Re­forms;

· The im­pact of gov­ern­ment spend­ing on the lo­cal econ­omy, em­ploy­ment and poverty; · Cost-ef­fec­tive gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment to­wards the pro­mo­tion of value for money; · The ef­fec­tive­ness of gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, pub­lic en­ti­ties and mu­nic­i­pal ser­vice de­liv­ery mod­els;

· Skills de­vel­op­ment; · In­vest­ment at­trac­tive­ness in­clud­ing in­no­va­tive ways for pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship; · Scarce re­source ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion · Gen­der, youth and women mat­ters;

· En­vi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate change.

Sekoati says th­ese iden­ti­fied pro­grammes may be broad­ened in fu­ture or oth­ers added.

Pro­fes­sor Makhanya says the re­la­tion­ship is sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it moves the two par­ties “from just the­o­ris­ing about the work of our com­mu­ni­ties to be­ing there within com­mu­ni­ties”.

He says the agree­ment in­volves the Limpopo gov­ern­ment get­ting di­rect sup­port from Unisa, the 135-year-old uni­ver­sity which boasts 300 000 stu­dents from all over the world.

“The uni­ver­sity, be­cause we have re­searchers, is go­ing to be dig­ging into th­ese par­tic­u­lar is­sues so that by the time the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment moves into pol­icy frame­work it would be pol­icy that is well grounded from the sources. And by the time they talk about de­liv­er­ing the work; we would be know­ing that we are deal­ing with re­al­ity on the ground rather than the­o­ris­ing about it,” says Prof Makhanya.

He adds that a joint im­ple­men­ta­tion team has al­ready been es­tab­lished to fast­track the pro­ject.

“The part­ner­ship is for three years, re­newal, which means we are look­ing at a long haul rather than just a short term. As we sit here right now our teams that we brought here are go­ing to be work­ing with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to put in place im­ple­men­ta­tion plan. So, it’s not just the mem­o­ran­dum that has been signed, we move be­yond to the im­ple­men­ta­tion stage, which means be­yond this, there is some­thing prac­ti­cal.”

Makhanya says he hopes that re­searchers will take ad­van­tage of the agree­ment, the first of its kind, to con­duct more re­search.

“That’s one of the things that I have al­ways seen as a weak­ness where peo­ple do re­search be­cause they like it. Now here, we will be do­ing re­search be­cause it mat­ters from the side of the com­mu­ni­ties.”

He added that “this is the first for the uni­ver­sity.”

“The one that we have, which is in its early stages of in­cep­tion, is with the KZN gov­ern­ment where it has not re­ally evolved to this level but there is work that is un­der­way also from their own de­vel­op­ment plan as a prov­ince. The ad­van­tage in do­ing this type of work is that it’s go­ing to be giv­ing us an op­por­tu­nity of un­der­stand­ing how we can go back and also roll that one out.”

Photos: Le­bo­gang Mak­wela/ Vis­ual Buzz SA

JOIN­ING FORCES: Limpopo Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment MEC Sea­paro Se­na­tor and Unisa Vice Chan­cel­lor Prof Mandla Makhanya.

Limpopo Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Ish­mael Kget­jepe, and his Trea­sury coun­ter­part Rob Too­ley at the MOU sign­ing cer­e­mony in Polok­wane this week

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