UJ Soweto campus inspires creativethinking, Minister Naledi Pandor said. UJ is home to some of South Africa’sforemost intellectuals. Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela(left) attended the new campus openingceremony.(Images: Bongani Nkosi)MEDIA CONTACTS• Herman EsterhuizenMedia RelationsUniversity of Johannesburg+27 559 36653 or +27 72 129 0777RELATED ARTICLES• SA university gets global nod• New centre to foster science careers• Science university for Botswana• First university for MpumalangaBongani NkosiThe community of Soweto now has access to a state-of-the-art higher learning facility, following the multimillion-rand upgrading of the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) campus in the township.Formerly known as Vista University, the UJ campus is now of the same stature as universities in South Africa’s more affluent towns. It sports a more exciting look than Vista, which was built by the apartheid government to prolong racial segregation in tertiary education.The university was transformed at a cost of R450-million (US$62-million), a sum allocated by the government in 2005. Science and Technology minister Naledi Pandor commented that the design “inspires creative thinking”.The sparkling Pimville campus was unveiled on 4 February at a ceremony that also marked the opening of UJ’s academic year. South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Ihron Rensburg were on hand to do the honours.“I am confident that the expansion of this campus will play a key role in addressing developmental needs of the broader Soweto community,” said Motlanthe.The facelift included the construction of new lecture halls, a students’ residence, an ICT facility and law and health clinics. A new student centre and a sports ground are also part of the package.The residence on campus is named after Hector Pieterson, the 12-year-old who was slain by apartheid police during the 1976 students’ protest against the compulsory use of Afrikaans in schools. It accommodates more than 300 students, while others will stay in two leased residences in the nearby Soweto suburbs of Orlando and Dube.Community members will also have access to the facilities. The law clinic will provide legal advice to residents and pupils at surrounding schools will benefit from extra academic lessons on weekends.The Centre for Small and Medium Enterprises Development, part of the campus, has been reaching out to Soweto’s entrepreneurs since 2008. It’s headed by accomplished Soweto businessman Dr Thami Mazwai and offers leadership lectures to the public each month.“It is important to bear in mind that this Soweto campus has been designed with a clear intention of being an asset to the local community,” Rensburg said.Soweto-based construction businesses also scored big from the renovation process. Contracts worth about R37-million ($5.1-million) were awarded to the local contractors.Top academic studiesThe campus offers full-time courses in management, economic and financial sciences, education and humanities. UJ’s campuses around Johannesburg offer other industry-related courses such as engineering.Soweto is currently offering five undergraduate degree courses, seven undergraduate diploma programmes, two doctoral and three masters’ courses, and one honours course. UJ is planning to enrol 7 000 students at the campus by 2013.Students from Soweto and neighbouring areas such as Sebokeng, Orange Farm and the East Rand will be close enough to take full advantage of opportunities offered by this latest addition to Gauteng’s academic sector.As South African students are known to travel very far for their education, the campus can also expect to draw students from provinces like Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, neither of which has its own university.“Our vision for the Soweto campus is that it will become the campus of choice for most students,” said Rensburg.UJ is one of the country’s leading universities, attracting 65 000 new students for the 2011 academic year. Many were disappointed as the university can only take in 13 000 first-year students.“Our students come from all parts of South Africa, and we also have close to 2 500 international students from 52 countries,” Rensburg said.Honouring stalwartsBuildings in the campus are named after stalwarts in the struggle against apartheid. The naming committee opted for icons who had a direct impact on Soweto.They include the late Pan Africanist leader Robert Sobukwe, who lived in the township between the 1970s and 1980s. The late Dr Nthato Motlana, a Soweto activist and businessman who was also Nelson Mandela’s physician, has a lecture building named after him.Preacher and composer of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika Enoch Sontonga, Afrikaans struggle hero Bram Fischer, author and activist Ellen Khuzwayo, activist Anton Lembede, youth leader Tsietsi Mashinini, and prominent teacher TW Khambule are also honoured.“These great South Africans all lived selfless lives so that others can prosper,” Rensburg said. “It is fitting, then, that these heroes should posthumously be honoured for the rich legacy they have left behind.”
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The Shiv Sena is all set to bring in a major organisational change as it readies for the national executive meet on Tuesday.Party chief Uddhav Thackeray’s son and present chief of party’s youth wing, Yuva Sena, Aaditya Thackeray is all set to be made a part of the Sena’s highest decision making council, the Ashtapradhan Mandal – eight member body.Mr./ Thackeray who launched in to politics by his grandfather and founder of Sena late Bal Thackeray during Sena’s annual dussehra rally nine years ago is set to be party’s face as it plans to expand beyond Maharashtra. He was made the chief of youth wing few years back with an aim to groom him politically and now the eldest son of party chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to be given an important responsibility within the party.“Aaditya has huge following among youngsters, not only in Maharashtra but also outside. While many have been waiting for this elevation, party will be focusing on projecting him as a national face in coming time,” a senior leader of the party said.In his recent interviews, Mr. Thackeray has not declined the possibility to contest the elections. The move would make him the first Thackeray to contest polls of the move goes ahead as planned. With his elevation, Mr. Thackeray and Yuva Sena will be given more important responsibilities to be played as party prepares for general and assembly elections. Party chief Uddhav Thackeray has already announced of going solo in the polls.Another new member who is on his way to make to the party’s top council is MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde. “All legislative party leaders have been the member of the Ashtapradhan Mandal in the past, except for Eknath Shinde. He too is likely to be inducted on Tuesday,” the leader said. The Party’s group leader in Lok Sabha, Anand Adsul is also being considered for the top decision making body of the party.Presently, the Mandal has former Chief Minister Manohar Joshi, former ministers Sudhir Joshi and Liladhar Dake, Lok Sabha MP Gajanan Kirtikar, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, Environment Minister Ramdas Kadam, Transpprt Minister Divekar Raote and Industries Minister Subhash Desai.According to sources, both Manohar Joshi and Sudhir Joshi will be made advisors to Uddhav Thackeray, making way for the elevation of new faces.The party will also pass important resolutions on Tuesday by highlighting problems faced by the country such as inflation, national security, petrol rates etc.
A day after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar raised doubts over the functioning of the EVMs in the recently held Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has shot back saying such complaints are made by those who lose. “This is a classic example of blaming the machine for their (NCP’s) inability to win elections. The type of politics that the Opposition playing is something like finding the cure without the diagnosis of the disease,” State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said. ‘Couldn’t solve problems’The minister said the Congress-NCP ruled for over 47 years in the State and over 50 years in India, but could not solve the problems of the people. “It is time for the Opposition to do some introspection instead of blaming of the machines,” he said.In a party meeting called to review of the results of the Lok Sabha polls on Saturday, the NCP president said he always had doubts over the efficiency of the EVMs and their numbers. “When the Congress won the elections in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, there were doubts in my mind as to whether it was done to ensure a victory in the general elections,” he said.Mr. Pawar said the BJP is now working to pull down these governments. “All three States are adjacent to each other and now the BJP is planning to bring them down,” he said. While clarifying that there will be no merger with the Congress, the NCP president had appealed to the party workers to forget the results of the Lok Sabha elections. “The Assembly polls will be held within a 100 days. Forget the Lok Sabha results. Focus on our party, our candidate,” he said.