Institutions of higher learning and organisations from different spectrums, convened for the first time at the University of Venda for a Two – Day Hybrid Conference under the theme ‘Risk-based transformative leadership strategies for excellence and innovation in the Higher Education Sector. This prestigious occasion was graced by the presence of world-class strategic leaders who shared their enlightening insights, thoughts, best practices, challenges, and most fundamentally the transformative strategies that have and will undoubtedly continue to shape risk leadership excellence in promoting the future we envisage.

The conference that was officially opened by the University of Venda Vice- Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni, took place at the University Auditorium from 30 November 2022 to 01 December 2022. UNIVEN is the third institution to host this remarkable conference.

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni

The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni said the success of any conference is dependent upon the calibre of speakers, the level of engagement and the quality of papers presented. ”I do not doubt that this conference will be a great success.” The Vice-Chancellor and Principal saw this as an opportune moment for the University of Venda to host a conference of this magnitude. Dr Nthambeleni found the theme of the conference very relevant for a University that is celebrating 40 years of existence.

UNIVEN has matured and has weathered a few storms in the past. Dr Nthambeleni highlighted that “the road we have travelled may have been foggy at times, meandering and marked by long detours of hardships and steep hills. The fog, the dust, the curves, and the hills, may have obscured our vision in our teens. However, all of that has been wiped out by lived experiences. Our destiny is clear, and our goal is nothing short of greatness.”
He informed the delegates that the University commenced its Enterprise Risk management journey in 2019 with the full understanding that “risks and opportunities, strategy, business model, performance and sustainable development are all inseparable elements of the value creation process”. This required an approach to ensure that UNIVEN’s strategy, performance and risk management were aligned and integrated.

Dr Nthambeleni went on to say that “we are fully aware that risk maturity is not an event but a journey towards the full integration of Enterprise Risk Management in all activities, processes, and planning. Most importantly it is the cultural change to become a risk-aware organisation where all decision-making is based on sound risk intelligence and an awareness of the integrated nature of risk.”

“UNIVEN is committed to ensuring that Enterprise Risk management continues to play its critical role in ensuring that we deliver on our credo “Creating Future Leaders,” added the Vice Chancellor and Principal. The environment in which higher education operates is very fluid, characterised by a plethora of external and internal risk factors. He alluded that “Whilst the external risks are very common and cut across all institutions, the extent to which institutions grapple and cope with some of these risks is dependent on historical factors.”
Dr Nthambeleni further pointed out that the economic outlook of the country has an impact on the risks we encounter. The country’s credit ratings affect the institutions of higher learning as well. ” We are part of the global community and need to assist each other in surviving challenges.

The deflecting resources of our students who depend on NSFAS to fund their studies. We need to be active to strengthen the throughput of our graduates.” He spoke of another major external risk that we face which is the quality of the students we receive from the schooling system. Most students come to universities underprepared to cope with the demands of higher learning. Their chances of success are very limited with a high number of them dropping out or taking longer to complete their studies. This risk can manifest itself in low throughput rates, which in turn, affect our funding and subsidies from the government.

Chief Risk Officer from the Durban University of Technology, Mr Sikhuthali Nyangintsimbi

When setting the tone, the Chief Risk Officer from the Durban University of Technology, Mr Sikhuthali Nyangintsimbi said this is the 3rd Higher Education Institution to host a conference of this calibre. “We saw it fit to be hosted by UNIVEN because of the 40th anniversary”. He spoke of how the deliberations of this conference will help build a database for mentors for mentorship that is required. It is about us deliberately elevating our conversation, and deepening our deliberations,” highlighted Mr Nyangintsimbi.

Chief Director for Higher Education Policy and Research, Mr. Mahlubi “Chief” Mabizela

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) was represented by the Chief Director for Higher Education Policy and Research, Mr. Mahlubi “Chief” Mabizela. He spoke on the topic Evolution of University systems in South Africa: Lessons for the future. Mr Mabizela said change is the only constant in life.

Mr Tendayi Gondo, Lecturer in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture

Mr Tendayi Gondo, Lecturer in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture at UNIVEN spoke on the topic of Responding to the unexpected (Business Continuity Strategies: A case study of UNIVEN).

From L-R: Prof Jan Crafford and Prof Modimowabarwa Kanyane

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law, Prof Modimowabarwa Kanyane was the Chair of Session of panel 1, where the panellists consisted of Prof Jan Crafford, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Teaching and Learning (UNIVEN); Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor (UFS) who joined virtually and Dr Britta Zawada, Director Institutional Audits (CHE) who was also on the virtual platform, addressed the topic Strategies in Curriculum Change and processes for improved graduateness.

Both members of the panel presented on respective aspects of the curriculum change and graduateness. Of critical importance was the concern about outdated curricula in the institutions of learning that needed to change or be renewed to align with the job market. After the panel members’ presentations, Prof Kanyane in his capacity as Chair of the session raised a ‘big question’ about why there is a high level of unemployed graduates which is a cause for concern in the country. The session took another turn to labour on decoloniality and decolonisation of the curriculum to respond to the dynamics of the education landscape and the job market.

From L-R: Mr Thabo Dikgale, Mr Wiseman Jack, Ms Orla Quinlan and Prof Nonceba Mbambo-Kekana

This was followed by panel 2 where the panellists presented on Managing Risks and Vulnerabilities Associated with Linkages, Partnerships and Internationalisation. The panellists were Mr Wiseman Jack, President International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA); Prof. Nonceba Mbambo-Kekana, Director of International Affairs, University of Limpopo and Dr Lavern Samuels, Director of International Education and Partnerships, Durban University of Technology, elected President of IEASA and Ms Orla Quinlan, Director Internationalisation, Rhodes University. The panel was chaired by Mr Thabo Dikgale, Partnership Officer, International Relations, UNIVEN.

Ms Nejolla Korris

On the virtual platform was Ms Nejolla Korris, the CEO of Interveritas International, USA International Speaker, who took the conference by the toes when presenting about Words Never Lie but People Do; Detecting Deception in Everyday Communications. The presentation was quite interesting, informative and vibrant. It was found that lying is one of the biggest risk factors for leadership.

Day one of the conference was closed by the University of Venda’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Nosisi Feza. “If we want to make sure that higher education keeps leading, we must stop encouraging lies’’, says Prof Feza.” The first day was also blessed by the presence of the Mayor of Thulamela Municipality, Cllr Sarah Rambuda.

Dr Nalini Maharaj, Risk Management Committee Chairperson (UNIVEN)

The conference saw Dr Nalini Maharaj, Risk Management Committee Chairperson (UNIVEN) welcoming the delegates on day two.

Chief Financial Officer, Mr Botwe Kraziya

UNIVEN’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr Botwe Kraziya was the Session Chair of panel 3. Mr Julius Mojapelo, CEO Institute of Internal Auditors South Africa (IIASA), and Mr Kganki Matabane, CEO of Black Business Council presented on the Collapse of the SA Economy as a Reality: Impact and Options for Higher Education Institutions.

From L-R: Dr Lawrence Diko-Makia, Mr Tonderai Makoni and Dr Christopher Whittle

Panel 4 was chaired by Dr Lawrence Diko-Makia, Senior Lecturer Department of Earth Sciences, UNIVEN. Members of the panel, Mr Tonderai Makoni, Programme coordinator Vhembe Biosphere Reserve and Dr Christopher Whittle, Associate Director: Governance and Risk. PKF Octagon addressed the topic of Environmental Stewardship and Governance.

Prof Nosisi Feza

In addressing the topic of Aligning Risk Management with Research Strategy to Enhance Research Outputs for Innovation and Impact was UNIVEN’s Deputy Vice- Chancellor of Research and Postgraduate Studies, Prof Nosisi Feza. She spoke of aligning risk management with a research strategy to enhance research output for innovation and impact. Prof Feza further talked of research and innovation being the knowledge generated by research as the basis of sustainable development which requires that knowledge be placed at the service of development, be converted into applications and be shared to ensure widespread benefits. She further emphasised the point of financial management for quality productivity. She said research space is facing the reality of scarcity of funds.

From L-R: Mrs Diana Makwarela, Mr Christopher Palm, Dr Levy Ndou and Mr Phillip Rakgwale

The Director of Internal Audit and Risk, UNIVEN, Mrs Diana Makwarela chaired the session that addressed the topic Risk-Based Transformative Leadership Strategies. Mr Christopher Palm who is the Chief Risk Advisor, at the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) presented the Global risk update, on the other hand, Dr Levy Ndou, a Political Analyst and Lecturer, at Tshwane University of Technology briefly highlighted Excellence and innovation in the Higher Education Sector, while Mr Phillip Rakgwale, President of South African Institute of Government Auditors (SAIGA) shared the Information Systems Risks and Data Ethics Risk factor with the participants.

Mr Tsietsi Telite

Mr Tsietsi Telite, Coach3sixty, Mentor, Time to Think Facilitator, Enneagram Practitioner facilitated an interactive Session.

From L-R: Mrs Motlanalo Koko Khumalo, Prof Ntebogeng Mokgalaka-Fleischmann, Dr Robert Martin and Dr Lindiwe Mulaudzi

Panel 6 on Developing An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and Culture, was chaired by Dr Lindiwe Mulaudzi, Director: Centre for Higher Education Teaching and Learning (CHETL), UNIVEN. The panellists of this session were Dr Robert L Martin, Deputy Vice- Chancellor Corporate Services, UNIVEN; Prof Ntebogeng Mokgalaka-Fleischmann, Director: Mamelodi Campus, University of Pretoria and Mrs Motlanalo Koko Khumalo, CEO, Motlanalo Chartered Accountants and Auditors Inc.

University Registrar, Adv Edward Lambani

In his vote of thanks, the University Registrar, Adv Edward Lambani declared the fact that the 2022 Strategic Risk Leadership Conversations on Higher Education Conference was a success and it ended on a high note. He thanked and appreciated all the esteemed speakers of the conference and guests for availing themselves for all two days. Most importantly, he commended members of the Local Organising Committee and Risk Champions for a job well done.

Mr Juneas Lekgetha

At the closing of the conference was the Chairperson of the UNIVEN Council, Mr Juneas Lekgetha. He advised that people must keep an eye on the trends that are emerging around us. On behalf of the University, he appreciated the guests and congratulated the participants for attending a successful 2022 Strategic Risk Leadership Conversations on Higher Education Conference which was hosted by the University of Venda for the first time. He further indicated that after such an eye-opening conference, we are going to make sure that we are not only involved in students’ day-to-day activities but also in what happens outside.

Mr Lekgetha mentioned that UNIVEN is committed to the course of this country and it believes whatever we do will bring change to this world. Universities are there to change people’s lives and this conference was made for that too.

Prof Dovhani Thakhathi from Fort Hare University

The conference ended up with a glamorous and glittering dinner held at the Kalahari Waterfront, Nandoni Dam. The keynote speaker at the gala dinner was Prof Dovhani Thakhathi from Fort Hare University, Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management and Commerce. Prof Thakhathi addressed the delegates on the topic of Moving from bureaucracy to revocracy: the role of managers and leaders in accelerating strategic risk management. The conference was a success through the sponsorships and exhibitions from ABASA; ADAPT IT; SAIGA, Microsoft and Chapu Chartered Accountants and Registered Auditors.

Director of Marketing, Branding and Communication, Dr Takalani Dzaga


Director of Community Engagement, Prof Vhonani Netshandama

Shonisani “Ashifashabba” Muleya

Shonisani “Ashifashabba” Muleya was the programme director of the conference Gala Dinner.

Delegates also enjoyed rousing performances by UNIVEN student traditional dancers as well as South African Idols 2022 Season 18 winner and UNIVEN alumnus, Thapelo Molomo.

Thapelo Molomo

Malende dancers

Xibhelani dancers

Some of the delegates pose for a photo at the gala dinner

A spectacular African Essence performance by Cathy Delmei

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 / 8710
Date: 07 December 2022

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