By WENDY NZAMA
Rhodes University newly elected Student Representative Council (SRC) President Leboghang Nkambule plans to continue working with the Makhanda community through the University’s engagement office. Nkambule was inaugurated together with her 15 SRC executive members in a ceremony conducted entirely online, due to Covid-19 precautions. This year, a total number of 2 920 students voted in the election of the campus leaders. Of the 16 elected SRC members, 14 are women.
As the SRC’s community engagement councillor this year, Nkambule worked in various partnerships through Rhodes University Community Engagement (RUCE). One of them involved mentoring high school learners.
“As the SRC, we started the shadow the leader mentorship programme in which we mentored Representative Council of Learners (RCL) from Ntsika,” Nkambule explained. “I said, ‘We are leaders, so let go out and mentor other leaders’.”
Rhodes University, with the support of RUCE, encourages the creation of spaces where students can engage with community partner organisations in their chosen discipline, or in an area that interests them. Nkambule intends to ensure the student community continues to engage with the community of Makhanda through their collaboration with RUCE, and to that existing programmes continue.
The 23-year-old Political and International Studies Honours student was born in Limpopo, but lives in Pretoria. She steps into the shoes of outgoing president Katlego Mphahlele.
“I am grateful to the students for entrusting me with this task. I also thank my mother, Sthembile Pale, for being my pillar of strength and for supporting me in my journey to become SRC president.”
Speaking of her subject major, Nkambule said social change and social justice are what interest her.
“I am passionate about [remedying]social inequality, which is why I have served this year as a community engagement councillor.”
In her manifesto, Nkambule focused on three pillars:
- Responsiveness to changing social patterns – adjusting and innovating for the betterment of the university community.
- Communication with students about SRC plans that is efficient, effective, and transparent .
- Sustainable transformation for a campus environment that is inclusive, safe, and [welcoming]for everyone.
“Having been part of the SRC 2019/20 as the community engagement councillor, I am quite knowledgeable about the structure itself, as well as some of the pressing issues that need the attention of the SRC,” Nkambule told Grocott’s Mail. “As newly elected president, I hope to guide the SRC to successfully achieve its objectives.”
Among the things that Nkambule wants to achieve during her term is to restore the faith of students in student governance – “for students to see that we are operating in a space of leading together, while representing them in different structures: to hold each other accountable, to lead together, and to be kind to one another”.
The election for the SRC 2021 had a record number of candidates – 49 in total – eight of which were Presidential candidates.