Meeting in progress, Vho Thovhele Ramovha (seated on the left side of the table) briefing a delegation from UNIVEN led by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni

The University of Venda (UNIVEN) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni, on Wednesday, 19 May 2021 led a delegation of UNIVEN Senior managers comprising of the Director Institute for Rural Development, Prof Joseph Francis; Director Community Engagement, Prof Vhonani Netshandama; UNIVEN Innovative Growth Company (UIGC) CEO, Dr John Mudau and Director Marketing, Branding and Communication, Dr Takalani Dzaga, which met with Thovhele Ramovha to strengthen collaboration between UNIVEN and Mulenzhe Development Trust. The meeting took place at Thavhani Mall boardroom. 

In his presentation, Thovhele Ramovha highlighted that, rural development is very important to him because it seeks to improve the lives of majority of people who reside in rural areas. When presenting about all projects that he is currently busy with, Thovhele Ramovha explained how he started the project of Thavhani Mall. He said after looking at the services that were not available in Thohoyandou, he realised that there are lot of services that the mall could bring to the people around Thohoyandou. 

“There is vision 2030 where new developments will be established in and around Thohoyandou. People should not go far to access services. All services should be accessible by people residing in both urban and rural areas.” 

He said there are more projects that are still to come for the benefit of the surrounding communities. “These projects include, a private hospital, fitness centre and Numetro Cinema, poultry and abattoir. We want to bring these services to the people.” He advised the University to commercialise some of its services if they need serious developments in and around Thohoyandou. 

Thovhele Ramovha added that, among projects that he is busy with, there will be a golf course, private school, and town houses. 

“Because these are long-term projects, there is a need to buy new construction vehicles/machinery. Buying will assist to cut costs. These machineries will also generate income when hired and can later be used to build roads for our surrounding communities and will create jobs for local people.” 

He said they have three (3) bursary schemes that supports learners from as early as Grade R until they graduate from tertiary institutions focusing on specialised fields. 

“We should not wait for government to do things for us, we should start doing things for ourselves and there is a need for them to work together with the University in order to develop this place. In everything we do, we should strive to ensure that our communities are benefiting.” 

In his conclusion, he said indigenous knowledge should be commercialised. If commercialised, our people could make a lot of money from it because this area is rich in terms of indigenous knowledge. “This will also be a way of job creation.” He invited students through the University management to acquire skills on some of the projects that they are busy with. 

UNIVEN Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni said the University will document all projects that Thovhele is involved in because all projects involve community development. 

Dr Nthambeleni outlined the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan where he suggested possible collaborations between Mulenzhe Development Trust and UNIVEN. 

These projects are in line with the new strategic plan, especially Strategic Trust 1 – Student Centeredness and Engaged Scholarship, Strategic Trust 2 – Entrepreneurial University and Strategic Trust 4 – Linkages, partnerships, and Internationalisation. 

“We want to make the UNIVEN to have an impact and relevance to our communities. We need to expand and find better ways to improve our people’s lives. There is a serious need to address some of these challenges as early as possible.” 

When talking about Strategic Trust 2, Dr Nthambeleni said the University strives to produce graduates who will be able to think beyond looking for jobs. They should be able to start their own businesses and create jobs. He said UNIVEN is busy reviewing its programmes to make them better and be able to be in line with Strategic Thrust 2. “We want our graduates to be able to see opportunities where others do not see opportunities. We want to change the thinking of our graduates.” 

When presenting the purpose of the meeting, Director Institute for Rural Development, Prof Joseph Francis said the purpose was to discuss possible partnerships between UNIVEN and Mulenzhe Development Trust to improve the lives of the surrounding rural communities. 

Dr Mudau added that all parties, including surrounding communities and students will benefit from these collaborations. This will ultimately improve the local economy. 

In her remarks, Director Community Engagement, Prof Vhonani Netshandama said a lot has been discussed during the meeting and what is left is the way forward on the possible projects to collaborate on for the benefit of the surrounding communities. “We need to come up with a strategy on where and how we collaborate.” 

She said there is a need to start investing and empowering local people. “These projects should create jobs for local people and support local entrepreneurs. In addition, projects will also be developing the area where our people reside.” She commended Thovhele Ramovha for projects that are benefiting our communities. 

Director Marketing, Branding and Communication, Dr Dzaga, gave a vote of thanks and appreciated the availability of Thovhele Ramovha for this meeting despite his busy schedule. He said the University wishes for a very long-lasting relationship with Mulenzhe Development Trust for the benefit and development of the surrounding communities. 

A group photo of delegation from UNIVEN led by Dr Nthambeleni (fourth from left) posing with Vho Thovhele Ramovha (third from left) after the meeting

Issued by: 

Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication 

University of Venda 

Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710 

Date: 28 May 2021