Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Motlanthe: Address by the Deputy President of South Africa, during the University of Venda fundraising campaign, Midrand
Minister Blade Nzimande;
Professor Peter Mbati, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda;
Ms Mabusela, Chairperson of the University Council and other members of the Council;
Mashudu Ramano, Chairperson of the Univen Foundation and other board members;
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Representatives of the Business Community;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I greet you all in my capacity as the Chancellor of the University of Venda and as the Deputy President of the Republic.
My interest in the success of this dinner is two-fold. As government we have five strategic priorities which guide our work for the current term of office. These are: education; health; rural development; economic growth and job creation; and fighting crime and corruption.
The University of Venda is well placed to address the priorities of education, economic growth and employment, rural development and health, including the fight against HIV and Aids.
The university has a vision of becoming a centre of excellence not only for the Limpopo province but for the whole of the Southern African region. It aspires to become an institution of choice for students and academics.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There are gaps between the stated vision of the University of Venda and the current reality of this institution.
When the university was established in 1982 the former Venda homeland government simply took over the premises of an agricultural high school and turned it into a university campus.
At that time the university had an initial enrolment of 5 000 students and, owing to the increasing demand for access to higher education, today the number has grown to 10 740.
At some stage the university did not even have facilities such as laboratories, libraries, lecture halls and adequate student residence.
The University of Venda can be likened to a talented child from a poor background that needs support and assistance to develop fully and become a well educated, prosperous and responsible citizen.
In recognising the limitations of the physical structure of the university, the Department of Higher Education and Training invested more than five hundred million rand towards the upgrading and development of new infrastructure.
While this is highly appreciated, it is nonetheless not enough to deal with the infrastructure backlog and position Univen to attain its lofty objectives. This is the reason for our appeal and invitation to the business community to take this university by the hand and walk with it the full distance.
What is unique about the University of Venda, you may ask? The leadership of the institution has already outlined the new vision and plan. Univen is located in a unique rural environment which presents new vistas of opportunities for both basic and applied research.
Located in the Vhembe district of the Limpopo Province, the University of Venda is a potential nerve centre for innovative solutions to rural development, particularly those relating to agriculture, health, water and sanitation, education, ICT uptake, biodiversity conservation and food processing.
As a key stakeholder in a rural environment, the University of Venda is a beacon for major developments in the region.
Univen sees itself as an integral part of its community which plays a catalytic role in changing the lives of the people for the better. Ordinary villagers from the immediate vicinity of the campus have established dynamic relations with the university in their day to day lives.
Recently the university has taken important steps to reengineer its academic programmes, so as to make them relevant to the environment. It has also strengthened the management and governance structures and created mechanisms for active partnership with the people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us seize with all our strength and wherewithal this moment to support the University of Venda in its endeavours to meet its strategic goals and through that our nation's developmental imperatives.
Let us forge and cement a strong bond between business and the University of Venda and we hope that the partnership we are forging today will be a long lasting one.
Together with the university management, students, staff and the community we are all determined to make inspired efforts for the realisation of the goals that the university has set and continues to set.
In conclusion, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for the generous support you are giving tonight. We know that you also know others who for various reasons could not join us tonight but who can also lend a hand to the Univen project. We hope that you will pass the message to them to join us in making Univen a centre of excellence.
This challenge of the University of Venda is equally an excellent opportunity of investing in the future of the nation and humanity.