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SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF MINERALS AND ENERGY AT

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					SPEECH BY MS BP SONJICA, MP, MINISTER OF MINERALS AND
ENERGY AT UNIVERSITY OF FORT HARE ON 13 MARCH 2008


Vive Chancellor of University of Fort Hare, Dr Tom
Members of the University Senate and Management
Director General and Officials from my Department
Chief Executive Officers and Executives of my State Owned Enterprises Captains
of various Mining and Energy companies
Members of the Academic Staff
President and Members of the SRC, and SASCO and other student formations
on campus
Distinguished guests, students, ladies and gentlemen


First and foremost, I would like to express my appreciation to the erstwhile Vice
Chancellor and current Vice Chancellor of this institution both Professor Swarts
and Dr Tom respectively, for their leadership and vision, in making this strategic
relationship with us, a reality. Our gathering, I have been reliably informed will be
followed by the sitting of the SENATE. I wish the Senate wise and fruitful
deliberations.


Our gathering signifies the patriotism that should exist between my Department
and the University, jointly involved in the struggle to undo the legacy of apartheid
as it manifests itself in the form of the dearth of skills, particularly amongst the
black South Africans. Ours is to preserve a tradition and build on the rich heritage
of struggle bequeathed to us by our revered Prof. Z.K Matthews, Oliver Tambo,
Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe and many other unsung heroes and heroines
of our liberation.
The University of Fort Hare has never been an ivory tower. In the face of
oppression and repression, it embraced and epitomised the profound wisdom
articulated by Amilcar Cabral, the renowned political thinker and freedom fighter
from Guinea who extolled the virtues of; “Learning through life, learning through
books, and learning through other people’s experiences. Learning always”.


The University of Fort Hare consequently did not produced mere elites but rather
people’s leaders and intellectuals who never divorced themselves from the daily
lives and struggles of the downtrodden. Some of its products, present in our midst
today, include my Director General, Sandile Nogxina and the current Vice
Chancellor, Dr Mvuyo Tom, Mphuthumi Damane, the CEO of CEF and Sipho
Mkhize, the CEO of PetroSA. I am also aware that in those days when they were
championing various causes in struggle against apartheid here at Fort Hare, little
did they know that one day they would participate in a process of promoting the
reconstruction and development of Fort Hare, to take centre stage in our
country’s economic transformation.


Programme Director, South Africa experiences a shortage of serious skills in
various fields. To give an example, annually the country produces 1000
engineers per annum in various fields, against a shortage of 2500 annually for
the next four years to stabilise the situation. In recognition of the skills challenges
facing the country, we as a Department implemented the following measures:


    Enjoined mining and energy companies to include skills development in
       their operations, as part of the BEE charters
    Implemented a Malaysian scholarship programme which was launched in
       1998, for students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to be
       afforded bursaries in various disciplines such as engineering. We are also
       having programmes at the University of Johannesburg for training of
       nuclear scientists, training, oil specialists in Norway and learnerships in
       the mining and energy sectors, involving the participation of graduates and
       students from various backgrounds.


These are in no small measure contributing towards addressing the supply side
of skills in response to the anomalous situation that currently prevails in our
economy, which the economists refer to as structural unemployment. In our
situation, it is argued, that unemployment fluctuates around a large and
increasing base of unemployment. This is attributed to a change in the structure
of the South African economy which is moving away from a mining-based
economy towards a manufacturing-oriented economy.


This situation is exacerbated by the supply side policies that were adopted by
apartheid planners. The majority of the South African population were denied
appropriate education and skills as they were seen by the previous regime as
mere purveyors of cheap labour. As our economy became less labour intensive,
and more capitally and technologically orientated, there has been a mismatch
between the available skills and the new jobs created by our modernising
economy.


South Africa is a mining country, with an energy intensive economy. Energy is a
key strategic sector of the South African economy underpinning the growth and
developmental objectives set out by Government. To support our economic
growth, Government has embarked on infrastructure development programmes
covering energy, transport and other sectors. In respect of energy, these projects
cover the entire spectrum (of the energy sector), from electricity to liquid fuels. To
focus state’s intervention in the development of infrastructure, Cabinet approved
the Liquid Fuels Masterplan which is guiding the development of additional
infrastructure in the fields of petrochemical sector. To address electricity
infrastructure projects, we also developed the Electricity Masterplan.


South Africa is facing an energy supply challenge, which required a national
response plan to be developed and urgently implemented. Key to the national
response plan is electricity conservation. As a student community, both students
and management alike, you have an enormous role to play in this process. The
reports that I have received regarding wasteful utilisation of electricity by students
in their residences, is not something we can be proud of, as responsible citizens
of this country, in the face of our energy challenges. So, I urge the SRC, to take
lead in this regard by taking heed of our national response plan to NAME and
SHAME those who waste our electricity.


On a positive note, I want to commend the University management for the wise
decision of converting the University into a centre of excellence in the field of
renewable energy. We are happy to partner with the University in this regard. On
our part, I want to commit that my Department would commence work with the
aim of finalising a project plan to retrofit lights at this institution as well as
investigate the introduction of other alternative technologies with immediate
effect.


Implementing these initiatives and tackling challenges facing the country, will no
doubt require skills that are not readily available locally and are in short supply
globally. The knowledge and skills that, you, students, will acquire, will constitute
an appropriate arsenal of weaponry to deal with the challenges that our country is
facing. You are accordingly well poised to play a significant role in the
development of our country.
Karl Marx wrote centuries ago, in his school leaving essay entitled “Reflections of
a young man in the choice of his first profession”. “To man, too, the deity gave a
general aim, that of ennobling mankind and himself, but he left it to man to seek
the means by which this aim can be achieved; he left it to him to choose the
position in society most suited to him, from which he can best uplift himself and
society”.


Your aspirant qualification is a significant milestone in the brick-making process
of choosing careers that will not only enable you to improve your personal lives,
but that of your communities and society as a whole. You choice of a career is a
means by which to ennoble yourselves and mankind and indeed, it is through the
application of the knowledge forming the content of your qualification that will
determine the position you will occupy in society. In the words of Karl Marx “this
choice is a great privilege of man over the rest of creation, but at the same time it
is an act which can destroy his whole life, frustrate all his plans, and make him
unhappy.” Our association with you as students, in this capacity, is informed by
this strategic intent.


The choice of one’s career should be given serious consideration. Marx the great
philosopher, further goes on to say that everyone has an aim in view, which to
him or her at heart seems great and actually is so if the deepest conviction, the
innermost voice of the heart declares it is so, for the deity never leaves mortal
man wholly without a guide; he speaks softly but with certainty. I have no doubt
that destiny has guided your path and choice of study here at Fort Hare and the
innermost voices of your hearts have declared how pivotal the disciplines you
chose as your careers are, to contributing towards economic prosperity as well as
the improvement of the quality of your lives.
The voice inside you told you with certainty that history has imposed on you a
different form of struggle from the one waged by your forebears against
colonialism and apartheid; the struggle against poverty and ignorance. Your
decision to be associated with this institution is informed by a strategic intent to
arm yourselves with an appropriate arsenal of weaponry for the prosecution of
your new form of struggle. Indeed, the two are interrelated. The freedom for
which your parents and sponsors are sacrificing for has to be sustained by
economic development.


Obviously, the reality that should inform the choice of our career and profession is
also made up of our own capabilities. It should not only be the love we have for a
specific field of study that predicates our choice for the career but also the talent
we have to master the subject. Because “if we have chosen a profession for
which we do not posses the talent, we can never exercise it worthily, we shall
soon realise with shame our own incapacity and tell ourselves that we are
useless created beings, members of society who are incapable of fulfilling their
vocation”.


Marx concludes his essay by asserting that the chief guide which must direct us
in the choice of a career and profession is the welfare of mankind and our own
perfection. It would appear that these two interests contradict each other and one
would have to prevail over the other; “On the contrary man’s nature is so
constituted that he can attain his own perfection, for the good of his fellow men. If
he works only for himself, he may perhaps become a famous man of learning, a
great sage, an excellent poet, but he can never be a perfect, timely great man.”


Appreciating the vision that Karl Marx had, when he professed in his School
leaving essays, it would be imperative for you to remain true to the course so that
over time, you can get the opportunity to translate your knowledge into practices
of what you have learnt in the course of self development as well as that of your
fellow South Africans.


Programme Director, allow me to report on the progress we have recorded in the
implementation of our cooperative agreement. Allow me to also commend Mr
Ramontja and Professor Zhao for their passion and determination as well as my
Director General, for his vision and commitment. I may as well single out Debbie
Ntombela from my Department who is leaving us, for her pivotal role in recruiting
and bringing a number of mining companies on board. It is through their focus
and resilience, that this cooperative agreement became a reality. The cooperative
agreement was signed on the 18th May 2007.


I am glad to report that over R 7 million has been raised towards assisting the
institution in various fields. Worth particular mentioning is the R3, 5 million that
PetroSA contributed towards bursaries and funding a professor at the institution.
The CEF Group of Companies also contributed an amount of R250 000, 00
towards procurement of critical equipment in the chemistry department as well as
renovating the seminar room. Wesizwe Mining company, as it shares our vision
also contributed an amount of R1 million towards using bursary schemes for
students at this university. The Council for Geoscience continues to annually fund
programmes at this institution, as so does SANERI (annual research chair of
R180 000), and many others.


The challenge is huge and we urge all the parties, whom we call friends of the
institution to also make contributions as part of the revival of this institution. I am
informed that Impala who were here with us in December 2007 are also making
some contribution. Mining companies as part of their social and labour plans must
development programmes and projects aimed at benefiting communities. I am
humbled that some mining companies such as Wesizwe are leading by example
and showing others how to follow.


It would be a dream come true for all of us if Fort Hare contributes towards skills
development through the development of centres of excellence in fields of
geology, engineering and other critical disciplines. We challenge established
companies in both mining and energy, to strengthen their friendships and
investment with this institution, because it continues to defy logic for investments
to be over concentrated in areas like Gauteng, and also add to the high density
levels prevalent there.


The contributions that were made in the context of this cooperative agreement
are bearing fruit. At the commencement of the 2008 academic period at this
institution, we were approached with requests for assistance. It is my pleasure to
report that we were able to assist in the cases that were brought before us.


Today, it is humbling for me to meet Ms Bukelwa Nxesi, who has been given a
bursary with a commitment for engagement upon completion by Wesizwe.
Equally, Luthando Sandi, who received assistance within the context of financial
assistance granted at the University. I congratulate and wish them and many
others success. Going forward, a framework for accessing this financial
assistance would be made available and handled in a transparent manner that
guarantees accountability to donors. We challenge other companies to also
follow suit and urge the students to meet as many of these important people
gathered here today.


Programme Director, we have information stalls in the exhibition halls and we
urge students and members of the academic staff to preach and spread the
gospel of information sharing and dissemination. Knowledge is power. We must
close the information gap between affluent communities and others who are less
privileged.


In conclusion, let me wish you well in your studies and urge you all to do your
utmost best in devoting your energies towards this important cause of skills
development.


Ndiyabulela!


ENDS


Enquiries: Sputnik Ratau at 0825219614

				
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