WHILE the Unisa Council operates within the vision and mission of the university, Mashukudu James Maboa, recently appointed Chairperson of Council, explains that one of the focus areas would be to improve information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure for both staff and students, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The university has adopted an open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) strategy,” he adds, “and we cannot roll out the programme without a proper, efficient and well-capacitated ICT environment.”
Council, which is equivalent to a board of directors in the private sector, is, among other purposes listed in the Higher Education Act, set up to effectively govern the university, and provide oversight and strategic direction. In terms of strategic direction and what the university plans and aims to achieve, Council is guided mainly by the university’s Strategic Document and the Annual Performance Plan. “My role in Council is to provide leadership, ensure that policies and Council resolutions are implemented, and further ensure that committees within the Council are operating efficiently,” Maboa says.
Maboa asserts that other focus areas of improvement include output in terms of what the university does and produces, as well as financial sustainability. He would like to see improvement in areas such as research outputs and pass rates. According to him, these have implications for the stature of the university and public perception thereof.
Regarding financial sustainability, Maboa says it means that Council would have to focus more on third-stream income. “It would have to ensure that the university gets return-on-investment from its assets,” he says, “and also improve its fundraising activities through Unisa Foundation and Unisa Alumni. I realise that the COVID-19 pandemic has weakened the economy, which strains the university, hence an effective financial sustainability strategy needs to be in place.”
A track record second to none
Maboa’s career profile is remarkable. A chartered accountant (CA) by profession, and a registered auditor, he has been good with accounting from a young age. After being inspired by his friend’s father, who was a CA, he knew which profession he would follow.
He has vast experience in various fields including accounting, auditing, corporate governance, tax, developmental finance and broader corporate finance. His career highlights include an international secondment to Deloitte Boston in the United States of America. He is currently an Executive Director at Movundlela Consulting, heading up the Corporate Finance Division.
Maboa has previously served in non-executive roles on several boards and audit committees, in both the private and public sector. Institutions that made use of his expertise include the Government Employees Pension Fund, the Hosmed Medical Scheme, the Johannesburg Roads Agency, Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, and the National School of Government.
His current board memberships include Eyesizwe Mining Pty Ltd, the Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting SETA, and NTP Radioisotopes SOC Ltd. He is also the Audit Committee Chairperson of the Medshield Medical Scheme, as well as the Construction SETA. Maboa is no stranger to Unisa, and has previously served as Chairperson of the Finance, Investment and Estates Committee of Council.
Appreciation of stakeholders
While Maboa appreciates various Unisa stakeholders, he is grateful to students and alumni for being patient with the university as it addresses their challenges. “Through interactions with structures such as the National Students’ Representative Council and the Convocation, I will assure that their issues are addressed and that service delivery improves,” he says.
Asking for support from alumni, he says: “good alumni who are interested in the activities of the university can only make the institution stronger and move it forward.” He urges staff to adapt to the new environment that the institution is operating in, and be flexible and agile in delivering on the university’s mandate.
Maboa concludes: “I urge the Unisa community to hang on and stay strong. Let us adhere to and comply with the COVID-19 regulations as this pandemic is very serious. We need to assist the government to fight the health crisis.”