Investing in the Youth is Investing in the Future
The man tasked by the Limpopo Department of Provincial Treasury to play advisory role on boards and audit committees of five provincial State-Owned Companies (SOCs) is highly rated as one of the country’s future leaders.
The 33-year-old Xitshembhiso Russel Mulamula is the Provincial Treasury representative on the Roads Agency Limpopo (RAL) Board of Directors, where he serves on the Social and Ethics, and Contracts and Planning Committees. He also serves on the audit committees for the rest of the provincial public entities, namely Limpopo Tourism Agency, Limpopo Gambling Board, Limpopo Economic Development Agency and Gateway Airport Authority Limited. In his day job as the Deputy Director at the Limpopo Department of Provincial Treasury, he is responsible for governance and oversight of public entities (SOCs). He monitors wasteful and irregular expenditure, analysing delegation of authority and monitoring legislative compliance by public entities to relevant prescripts, such as the Companies Act and King IV Report.
Expounding on his role as a board member on SOCs, Mr Mulamula says he monitors compliance and governance, which entails the application of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Treasury regulations, coordinate and enforce consistent implementation of the
action plan relating to unresolved findings raised by the Auditor-General in the annual audits.
And on the backdrop of youth month, Mmileng celebrates one of the youngest members of the highest structure at Roads Agency Limpopo. Together with women and people living with disabilities, the youth are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged group in society.
In all its programmes, RAL priorities the empowerment of the youth as it seeks to support job creation, career development and alleviation of poverty amongst this vulnerable group.
However, the annual internship intake is not limited to Engineering, as it also provides graduates and undergraduates with practical work experience across all its business units in the fields such as Environmental Management, Communications, Legal Services, Finance, Human Resources Management etc.
RAL has invested considerably in the youth-owned Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs), onthe-job and Construction Education and Training Authority (CETA) accredited training and creating job opportunities for the youth.
And just recently, the Agency has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA). The objective of this MOU is to empower the youth in the transport and construction sectors, particularly in Small Business Development and Support. (Story on page 18).
Personally, Mr Mulamula says the dew of youth has not disadvantaged him on the highest structures of organisations, as according to his experience one is judged on the quality of their contributions rather than their age.
He says with the country currently facing governance challenges, both in the public and private sectors, strategic repositioning is essential to inject vernal exuberance whilst also empowering young people.
Youth is always associated with inexperience, but Mr Mulamula says this is an unfortunate Catch-22.
“The future of South Africa is in the hands of young people, that is why young people must be given tasks and responsibilities in strategic positions, such as on boards, to effectively respond to new challenges and realities such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), cyber security, coding and social media,” says Mr Mulamula.
Mr Mulamula is married and has a young daughter. He was born and bred in Malamulele – a township in the Collins Chabane Local Municipality. He is passionate about youth empowerment.
He has been a student activist and was recently listed as one of the top 200 Young South Africans of 2018 under the age of 35 ‘who have shown themselves to be leaders’ in the Politics and Government category, by an authoritative national weekly newspaper.
He is the inaugural Mandela Washington Fellow in the Public Management stream, the flagship programme of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) – an initiative that “is looking for the next generation of leaders in Africa”. The YALI was initiated under former US President Barack Obama. Its first intake was in 2014, and has civic leadership, and business and entrepreneurship as other two streams.
Of course, at Mmileng we are not all about asking anodyne
“YOUNG PEOPLE MUST BE GIVEN TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES… TO EFFECTIVELY RESPOND TO NEW CHALLENGES ...”
questions. We put it to Mr Mulamula that the nation is apathetic and cynical amidst perceived impunity against corruption in the past decade, particularly within state-owned companies. When asked what his approach and philosophy is in working with public entities, he confidently said his approach to leadership is built on the philosophy of ethical and servant leadership.
This philosophy, he says, is grounded on principles of transparency, honesty, fairness, trust and loyalty to self and the world.
“Ethics reflect societal values and the Constitution of South Africa espouses adherence to transparency, accountability and fairness,” says Mr Mulamula, who is also a member of Institute of Directors of South Africa, and a supporter (member) of The Ethics Institute.
“I believe that corruption is not only prohibited by the law, but it is morally wrong as well.”
The studious yet extroverted Mulamula has several qualifications in Business Administration, Governance and Administration, and Public Management and Leadership. He is completing a Master of Business Leadership programme with University of South Africa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership.
But he says there is nothing as gratifying as what he considers a career highlight in the public sector, which incidentally bagged him second position in the 2015 Best Performer in the Innovation category by the Limpopo Department of Provincial Treasury when he initiated and organised the first Limpopo Provincial Corporate Governance Summit in 2014.
“The objective of the three-day summit was to discuss governance and ethics in the province,” he says.
The event was organised during the lowest point of governance in the province when various departments were placed under administration by the national government.
He says due to the success of the inaugural summit, he was asked to organise the second summit the following year, which was attended by 350 top government officials across national, provincial and local government levels.
At the RAL Board level, Mr Mulamula says his passion is to ensure that the youth have a voice, and that organisational policies create an environment for local SMMEs to flourish, particularly those owned by the youth, women and people living with disabilities.
The Board Member of Roads Agency Limpopo, and Member of its Social and Ethics, and Contracts and Planning Committees, Xitshembhiso Russel Mulamula.
Mulamula says it is the priority of the current Board of Roads Agency Limpopo to empower the youth of Limpopo Province through the Agency’s projects and programmes.