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07 May 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Charl Devenish
Noko Masalesa
Noko Masalesa, Director of Protection Services, in conversation with students and stakeholders to plan a safe way forward.

Safety and security are human rights that constitute social justice. At the centre of the agenda at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Social Justice Week held on the Bloemfontein Campus from 17-22 April 2019 were discussions about off-campus safety. Stakeholders agreed on an upgrade to security measures in order to ensure the success and wellbeing of the student population.

A call to students

Prof John Mubangizi, Dean of the Faculty of Law, in his capacity as representative of the UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, expressed his view on institutions of higher learning no longer functioning as ivory towers. “For any initiative to succeed, collaboration is necessary between key roleplayers,” he said.

He aptly pointed out that: “We cannot underscore the importance of safety and security, not only for the university but also for the communities around us. What the university does benefits the community and vice versa. I pledge the university’s commitment to play a leading part to ensure that the collaboration works,” said Prof Mubangizi.

Beefing up security: Who is involved?

In view of the collaborative effort Prof Mubangizi alluded to, the engagement was twofold. First was the roundtable discussion facilitated by Protection Services which then escalated into a public dialogue where students had the opportunity to interact with external delegates.

The South African Police Services, Community Police Forum, Private Security, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Provincial Commissioner, and Deputy Minister of Police were well represented in this critical conversation. Internally, members of Protection Services, Housing and Residence Affairs, Student Affairs, Institute for Social Justice and Reconciliation, Student Representative Council, and the Department of Criminology heard the plight of off-campus safety faced by students.

Changes in the horizon

The discussions culminated with recommendations which will see the future of student safety take a different direction. According to Skhululekile Luwaca, former SRC president, these include “the municipality’s commitment to immediately address issues such as street lights and enforcing by-laws, ensuring an integrated accreditation system, and drafting a policy for off-campus accommodation, running more crime awareness campaigns, and giving police patrols more visibility.”

In addition to resolving to set up a student safety forum with all the stakeholders, the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality has invited the UFS to join Reclaim the City – a safety forum where practical solutions to crime are devised and implemented on a weekly basis.


News Archive

Media: ANC can learn a lesson from Moshoeshoe
2006-05-20


27/05/2006 20:32 - (SA) 
ANC can learn a lesson from Moshoeshoe
ON 2004, the University of the Free State turned 100 years old. As part of its centenary celebrations, the idea of the Moshoeshoe Memorial Lecture was mooted as part of another idea: to promote the study of the meaning of Moshoeshoe.

This lecture comes at a critical point in South Africa's still-new democracy. There are indications that the value of public engagement that Moshoeshoe prized highly through his lipitso [community gatherings], and now also a prized feature in our democracy, may be under serious threat. It is for this reason that I would like to dedicate this lecture to all those in our country and elsewhere who daily or weekly, or however frequently, have had the courage to express their considered opinions on pressing matters facing our society. They may be columnists, editors, commentators, artists of all kinds, academics and writers of letters to the editor, non-violent protesters with their placards and cartoonists who put a mirror in front of our eyes.

There is a remarkable story of how Moshoeshoe dealt with Mzilikazi, the aggressor who attacked Thaba Bosiu and failed. So when Mzilikazi retreated from Thaba Bosiu with a bruised ego after failing to take over the mountain, Moshoeshoe, in an unexpected turn of events, sent him cattle to return home bruised but grateful for the generosity of a victorious target of his aggression. At least he would not starve along the way. It was a devastating act of magnanimity which signalled a phenomenal role change.

"If only you had asked," Moshoeshoe seemed to be saying, "I could have given you some cattle. Have them anyway."

It was impossible for Mzilikazi not to have felt ashamed. At the same time, he could still present himself to his people as one who was so feared that even in defeat he was given cattle. At any rate, he never returned.

I look at our situation in South Africa and find that the wisdom of Moshoeshoe's method produced one of the defining moments that led to South Africa's momentous transition to democracy. Part of Nelson Mandela's legacy is precisely this: what I have called counter-intuitive leadership and the immense possibilities it offers for re-imagining whole societies.

A number of events in the past 12 months have made me wonder whether we are faced with a new situation that may have arisen. An increasing number of highly intelligent, sensitive and highly committed South Africans across the class, racial and cultural spectrum confess to feeling uncertain and vulnerable as never before since 1994. When indomitable optimists confess to having a sense of things unhinging, the misery of anxiety spreads. It must have something to do with an accumulation of events that convey the sense of impending implosion. It is the sense that events are spiralling out of control and no one among the leadership of the country seems to have a handle on things.

I should mention the one event that has dominated the national scene continuously for many months now. It is, of course, the trying events around the recent trial and acquittal of Jacob Zuma. The aftermath continues to dominate the news and public discourse. What, really, have we learnt or are learning from it all? It is probably too early to tell. Yet the drama seems far from over, promising to keep us all without relief, and in a state of anguish. It seems poised to reveal more faultlines in our national life than answers and solutions.

We need a mechanism that will affirm the different positions of the contestants validating their honesty in a way that will give the public confidence that real solutions are possible. It is this kind of openness, which never comes easily, that leads to breakthrough solutions, of the kind Moshoeshoe's wisdom symbolises.

Who will take this courageous step? What is clear is that a complex democracy like South Africa's cannot survive a single authority. Only multiple authorities within a constitutional framework have a real chance. I want to press this matter further.

Could it be that part of the problem is that we are unable to deal with the notion of "opposition". We are horrified that any of us could become "the opposition". In reality, it is time we began to anticipate the arrival of a moment when there was no longer a single [overwhelmingly] dominant political force as is currently the case. Such is the course of change. The measure of the maturity of the current political environment will be in how it can create conditions that anticipate that moment rather than ones that seek to prevent it. This is the formidable challenge of a popular post-apartheid political movement.

Can it conceptually anticipate a future when it is no longer overwhelmingly in control, in the form in which it currently is and resist, counter-intuitively, the temptation to prevent such an eventuality? Successfully resisting such an option would enable its current vision and its ultimate legacy to our country to manifest itself in different articulations of itself, which then contend for social influence.

In this way, the vision never really dies, it simply evolves into higher, more complex forms of itself. If the resulting versions are what is called "the opposition" that should not be such a bad thing - unless we want to invent another name for it. The image of flying ants going off to start other similar settlements is not so inappropriate.

I do not wish to suggest that the nuptial flights of the alliance partners are about to occur: only that it is a mark of leadership foresight to anticipate them conceptually. Any political movement that has visions of itself as a perpetual entity should look at the compelling evidence of history. Few have survived those defining moments when they should have been more elastic, and that because they were not, did not live to see the next day.

I believe we may have reached a moment not fundamentally different from the sobering, yet uplifting and vision-making, nation-building realities that led to Kempton Park in the early 1990s. The difference between then and now is that the black majority is not facing white compatriots across the negotiating table. Rather, it is facing itself: perhaps really for the first time since 1994. It is not a time for repeating old platitudes. Could we apply to ourselves the same degree of inventiveness and rigorous negotiation we displayed up to the adoption or our Constitution?

Morena Moshoeshoe faced similarly formative challenges. He seems to have been a great listener. No problem was too insignificant that it could not be addressed. He seems to have networked actively across the spectrum of society. He seems to have kept a close eye on the world beyond Lesotho, forming strong friendships and alliances, weighing his options constantly. He seems to have had patience and forbearance. He had tons of data before him before he could propose the unexpected. He tells us across the years that moments of renewal demand no less.

  • This is an editied version of the inaugural Moshoeshoe Memorial Lecture presented by Univeristy of Cape Town vice-chancellor Professor Ndebele at the University of the Free State on Thursday. Perspectives on Leadership Challenges In South Africa

 

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