HET Minister gives Cabinet clear direction regarding the provincial university
06 March 2013
Premier Mabuza was highly elated today when he realised that one of his flagship dream to successfully sell the dream of the people of his province to have a university in the province before the end of the third term realised.
This arose when the Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande was briefing a special executive council meeting today [Wednesday, 06 March 2013] about the progress regarding the building of a multi-campus provincial university.
The Cabinet’s special meeting was held in Ermelo at the Gert Sibande District Municipality as members are in the region for the Taking the Legislature to the People programme.
Giving the progress report, Minister Blade Nzimande said the launch and sod turning for the not yet named university will take place in September this year. Plans for the construction of the university are at an advance stage, but however await few critical institutional arrangements to be finalised in order for the work to commence.
Minister Nzimande said the envisaged comprehensive university has been budgeted at least R10.3 billion to be spent on a ten-year developmental plan and is expected to be fully functional by year 2024. It is also expected that by 2024 the new university will be admitting at least 15 000 students.
The main campus will be in Mbombela Local Municipality on an approximately 480 square meters of land adjacent the Lowveld College of Agriculture. The university is envisaged by then to have established satellite campauses consistent with the socio-economic strength of Nkangala and Gert Sibande district.
The Siyabuswa College that offers Bachelor’s Degree in Education has been launched a week ago will be incorporated as part of the university. So is the case with the Lowveld College that will also offer Bachelor’s degree in agriculture, it will also be incorporated in the university over time. The university will offer qualifications from the certificate up until the doctorate degree level.
The preparations are at an advance stage. According to the Minister, all three stakeholders which are national, provincial departments and Mbombela Municipality need to work together from now to address the remaining issues towards commencement of construction of the university.
Both the Mbombela Municipality and the provincial government should work towards upgrading of the link roads and should provide the bulk infrastructure such as water and electricity for the university.
Again the municipality and the provincial government should also assist with necessary legislative processes such as the gazetting of the university.
Lastly, there should be an establishment of technical and political committees to ensure proper progress with regards to the establishment of the university.
Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza did not waste time but to officially hand over the land by singing a record of intent with Minister Nzimande. He jokingly said the President would ask him that he wanted the university but what has he done to speed up the process, hence the hand over.
“This is going to be a massive project, and the people of this province cannot afford to wait any longer, I therefore offer to sign the letter of intent that should be able to allow processes to release the land in order for all planning activities to be expedited.
“I therefore appoint three members of the executive to form part of the political committee that you requested; they are Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Simon Sikhosana, Education MEC Regina Mhaule and Roads Transport and Public Works MEC Dikeledi Mahlangu to assist the process. This is one of the best developments that must happen in our lifetimes, we are committing to help the Minister and his department to work,” said Mabuza.
“Premier, on our side also, there is nothing more that excites me than this project. We want to move further now and put the shovel on the ground. We are excited about the support and the understanding we have received from the Mpumalanga executive council. All we need now is to assist Mbombela Municipality to revise its integrated development plan and include the building of the university,” said Minister Nzimande.
Issued by Zibonele Mncwango
Spokesperson: Mpumalanga Premier
Tel: (013) 766 – 2453
Mobile: 079 491 0163
Please note that according to the Higher Education and Training Department, Nelspruit as a host was chosen because:
- It is well integrated with the regional and local movement infrastructure
- It is located at the junction of the N4 and R40 roads
- It is directly linked with the growth in R40 and the Development Corridor
- It is visually and physically linked with the provincial Legislature and government complex
- Nelspruit offers existing education amenity
- It has the established bulk infrastructure
- It is a large land holding 240 ha, offering opportunities for future expansion [12 sites were assessed in this regard]
- It is located in close proximity to retail and commercial developments
- The slope and typography is well suited for building
- It has presence and prominence
- It has established sport amenities and offers quick operational or academic establishment
- The university will be built in phases until 2024
- Amongst the names provided by the public for the university are;
- Sunrise University
- University of Mpumalanga
- People’s University of Mpumalanga
- Mpumalanga University of Excellence
- Dr E J Mabuza University
- Mbombela University
- Umcebo Wolwazi University