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Mohale applauds CUT for targeting entrepreneurship growth



Economic Development MEC Makalo Mohale says the introduction of a special programme on entrepreneurial development by the Central University of Technology (CUT) could be a strategic solution towards producing graduates who will not limit themselves to looking for work but could also create jobs.

Speaking during the launch of the CUT Entrepreneurship Development Unit (CUT-EDU) on Friday, Mohale said the new centre places the institution in a favourable position to take advantage of new opportunities and speed up implementation of its plans to be a leading university of technology in the country by 2030.

“This launch must be seen as an opportune moment to dig deeper into things that will help the university and the region develop a greater appreciation of the 21st century challenges facing higher education,” said Mohale.

South Africa’s tertiary education system has been criticised over the years for failing to produce graduates with entrepreneurial skills so they can start their own businesses and create employment.

“It is my hope that this unit will create a critical strategic position which will lead the university’s academic division into the future of innovation and entrepreneurship education for higher education in this country,” said Mohale.

“As government, we are privileged to see how this new thinking of entrepreneurship can be aligned with our plans.

“We have realised that the fatal constraint to social economic development in the country is skills shortage.

“We have no hope of contributing to the socio-economic needs of the country as well as the province if we do not urgently overcome the challenge of skills shortage in the Free State.”

The MEC said the government is committed to improving “the lives of our people for the better, promoting educational growth and developing the youth in line with the required capacity of the province”.

The CUT-EDU will offer post-graduate studies, including MPhil in coursework or research up to doctoral level in entrepreneurship management and monitoring and evaluation for the 2023 academic year.

The programme is designed to equip participants with skills to start and grow businesses and become self-dependent while producing astute entrepreneurship consultants, educators, scholars, and legislators.

In his opening remarks, CUT acting vice-chancellor Professor Alfred Nguwi said while the fourth industrial revolution is fast taking over everyday life, innovation and entrepreneurship are not going to be automated or run by robots, hence the university’s focus on the two, among others.

“There is no doubt in my mind that through entrepreneurship education, training, consulting and other related activities, the CUT-EDU will contribute immensely to the sustainable socio-economic prosperity of our students, staff, local communities and the Free State province generally,” said Nguwi.

The dean of management sciences at the university, Professor Albert Strydom, said recent studies, including the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2019/20, have emphasised the importance of entrepreneurship for organisational survival.

“It’s not only institutions in the private sector but also universities that must be re-organised with entrepreneurial activities at the forefront,” he told the gathering.

“In the Free State province, we have the advantage that there is a vibrant township economy which really brings an opportunity to the CUT to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit by harnessing local talent to create sustainable start-ups – one of the most important objectives of the EDU.”

CUT-EDU director Professor Dennis Yao Dzansi said the programme touches on both entrepreneurial theory applications and practicals through teaching and research.

“Students must come up with what we call a bankable business plan . . . using the scientific . . . research methodology. You should go out there into the market, do research to come out with a business plan that is ready for the market,” he explained.

Dzansi said the unit will also offer short-learning programmes especially for young people and women to help them use innovative education and technology in entrepreneurship and other socio-economic development-related fields.

“From next year, all our students, starting with those in the first year, will be exposed to this module (short learning programme) in entrepreneurship,” he said.

“The idea is that by the time they exit (the university) they should have completed this programme.

“One of the prerequisites is that they should produce business plans worth executing.”

Dzansi said the pilot advanced diploma has had an overwhelming response.

He said they had targeted only 35 students but eventually enrolled 71 after rejecting several others. – Staff Reporter


Ngwathe pays Eskom to fix damaged line



BLACKOUT . . . The Ngwathe electrical network tripped on Friday and damaged Eskom’s equipment due to overloading

Ngwathe Local Municipality in the northern Free State has paid R1.1-million to Eskom so it can repair damages to the power line in the area caused by overloading.

Eskom provincial spokesperson Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg said in a statement the payment was made on Monday morning and work to restore supplies to Parys and Vredefort has started.

“Repairs to the Eskom equipment will now commence,” said Van Rensburg.

“Based on the assessments of the damage, supply to Ngwathe should be restored by midnight tonight,” she added.

The spokesperson however said the initial repairs were focusing on the hot connections and will only be temporary to assist communities.

Another outage will be scheduled to repair the transformer bushings that were also damaged during the overloading incident.

The Ngwathe electrical network tripped on Friday and damaged Eskom’s equipment due to overloading.

“Since 2018, Eskom has warned Ngwathe that their continued exceedance of their Notified Maximum Demand (NMD) – the contracted amount of electricity supplied by Eskom to the Municipality – will eventually result in damage to the Eskom network and that the municipality needs to apply for an upgrade in their NMD.

“In August 2021 and in April 2022, Eskom informed the municipality that any damage to the Eskom network that is caused by the municipality’s negligence, will be at the municipality’s cost.

“The municipality agreed to this condition and, although they were well informed and aware of the risks, they did not take the necessary precautions or made sufficient efforts to upgrade their NMD,” Van Rensburg explained.

Following the incident, Eskom insisted on the municipality making an upfront payment as it is one of the municipalities in the province sitting with a huge debt to the national power utility.

As at end June, Ngwathe’s overdue debt to Eskom totalled R1.89 billion.

Eskom says this debt continues to grow as current accounts are not paid in full.

“Ngwathe’s non-adherence to payment conditions and negligence in protecting the power system, jeopardises Eskom’s financial sustainability as well as the security of supply to the residents of towns such as Parys and Vredefort.

“Supply to Ngwathe will be restored to the capacity as per the contracted NMD.

“Risks of overloading and consequent damage remain, and it is imperative that the municipality invests in upgrading its supply,” according to the power company. – Staff Reporter

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Mangaung electricity tariffs up



POWER TARIFFS UP . . . Local power distributor Centlec has hiked electricity charges

Electricity tariffs in Mangaung have gone up by 7.47 percent.

In a statement released on Thursday night, local power distributor Centlec said the increase was due to come into effect at midnight on July 1 following approval by the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa.

The increase will cover the period July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

“A guideline increase of 7.47 percent on electricity tariffs for Centlec was therefore approved with effect from the 1st of July 2022 for the 2022/23 financial year,” read part of the brief statement.

It said a more detailed outline of the increases will be announced soon. – Staff Reporter

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CUT students arrested for protesting against exams



DISTURBANCE AT CAMPUS . . . Five students protesting against exams at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein have been arrested

Police have arrested five students from the Central University of Technology (CUT) for public violence after they embarked on an unsanctioned protest against the institution’s decision to have the mid-year exams conducted in person at its two campuses in Bloemfontein and Welkom starting this Thursday.

The exams are set to run until July 20.

The fracas follows an announcement by CUT acting vice-chancellor and principal Professor Alfred Ngowi on Wednesday in which he stated the exams would take place physically at the two campuses as scheduled.

Ngowi said a detailed discussion about online exams at the Welkom campus concluded that it would not be feasible to conduct online exams because circumstances have changed regarding the COVID-19 restrictions and that it was also against the policy of the university.

“CUT is a full-contact institution and not a distance learning institution and therefore does not have the authority to accredit examinations that are not done under CUT’s status as a full-contact institution,” said Ngowin in a recorded video.

Ngowi told the students that academic assessment is one of the important building blocks of their qualifications.

He warned the students against disrupting the exams saying they would face disciplinary action as such action will be illegal.

“The unreliability of the power supply may have unintended disruptive effects,” he said.

“The COVID-19 restrictions which necessitated virtual classes and virtual assessments have all been suspended and the various accrediting bodies to which CUT is affiliated may not accredit online assessments.

“Therefore, we will proceed with physical assessments.

“Management has made all necessary preparations for the smooth running of the mid-year assessments, which have been communicated to all students.

“Therefore, any student who plans to disrupt the physical examinations on our campuses must be aware of the legal and disciplinary consequences.

“In addition, the CUT management has put several measures in place to protect the constitutional rights of all our students who are prepared for and prefer to sit for physical assessments.

“Students must be aware that any disruptions of the planned and scheduled assessments are illegal and unlawful, and students who act outside the law will have to face the consequences of their actions.

“Students further need to note that failing the upcoming academic assessments will directly impact their NSFAS funding status.

“No further funding will be available to NSFAS-funded students who fail the assessments or fail to take the upcoming assessments.”

But, in a statement, members of the South African Student Congress (SASCO) at the university argued that since all assessments had taken place online due to the COVID-19 restrictions, “it is only normal that the exams take place online as well”.

SASCO also argued that some students had not received their allowances from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and it would therefore be impossible for them to write their exams in a physical setting.

But Ngowi addressed the matter earlier in the same video: “As previously communicated through the Student Representative Council, NSFAS-funded students who still have unresolved challenges with their accommodation are encouraged to make written submissions to the relevant faculty deans in that regard.”

Park Road police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Thabo Covane said members of Public Order Police Unit arrested five male students for public violence at the CUT’s Bloemfontein campus on Thursday morning.

He said the group of protesting students was warned by the operational commander to disperse within a given time as they were contravening the conditions stipulated in an issued court order but refused to do so.

“The protesting students became violent and started throwing stones and bottles at the police and the security officers,” said Covane.

“The police used stun grenades to disperse the crowd. The other group ran into King Edward Street and blocked traffic by placing stones on the road.

“Police then arrested the five students with ages ranging from 18 to 22 years.”

The arrested students are expected to appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court on Monday facing charges of public violence and contravening a court order. – Staff Reporter

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