Senior Director : IRDCE – Professor Mandleni

1. Foreword by Senior Director – Professor Mandleni

MUT initiated IRCDE (previously referred to as the Community Development Centre) with a vision of uplifting and developing local people in Umlazi and surrounding areas in the early 70s. It served as a link between community and academia. Community development Centre was under Public Affairs Department (currently Marcomms dept.) when it was initiated. Its establishment was funded by organisations such as Anglo-American. As the unit developed it became a fully-fledged department. In 2006 the Institute for rural development (IRD) was established which was eventually merged with the community development centre which was referred to as Community Outreach to form what is currently known as Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement (IRDCE).
The vision of the institute to become a vehicle that promotes MUT as a socio-economically responsive institution through Community Engagement. The mission is to coordinate and support community engagement activities as well as establish and maintain relations with internal and external partners, with an aim of enhancing research, teaching and learning contributing towards socio-economic upliftment of communities based on the identified needs. The purpose of the institute is to coordinate and support:

  •  Rural communities in producing their own food, agro-processing, quality infrastructure provision, facilitation and establishment of rural enterprises.
  • Leverage resources from different stakeholders for the identified community projects in an effort to address MUT’s mission of social redress.
  • All MUT CE activities (Community Outreach, Student Volunteerism, Community based research and Service Learning) rural communities in producing their own food, in agro-processing, quality infrastructure provision, facilitation and establishment of rural enterprises.

2. Staff Complement

IRDCE is made of six staff members. It is comprised of the Director, the Deputy Director, Secretary, an Agricultural Scientist (Livestock), Agricultural Scientist (Crops) and a Community Liaison Officer.

3. Internal processes in place to attract funding

There is an upcoming short course on leadership through community interaction in collaboration with Stellenbosch University. Participating students will be required to pay a subsided fee of R100 as a way of Funding for short course through a mini grant of $10 000 grant from Tufts University in the United States. There will be 50 students that will be trained in the first semester and another 50 others that will be trained in the second semester.

4. Performance-Successes from June 2015

Special national and international days were celebrated such as Mandela Day 2015 (17th of July, 2015), International Literacy day (8 September, 2015) and National Science Week (4-6 August, 2015).

Student volunteers and participants in computer training in the second semester of 2015 were celebrated on the 19th of February 2016. They were awarded certificates of participation and certificates of attendance.

Community Based research included the following projects:

The MOU for Dexter and Matu Zama (DMZ) Agricultural Academy and Empangisweni Trust.

Challenges and how and how they are addressed

Rural development component is still not clear. Although this aspect is being addressed in the Community Engagement Plan of 2016 we are still looking into benchmarking with other institutions of Higher Education that do Rural Development e.g. the pending visit to UNIVEN in March, 23rd of 2016 might give the institute direction.

IRDCE transport – The absence of transport to visit projects is a major challenge. It forces the institute to hire transport, and that is not sustainable for the whole financial year. The funds get finished before the end of financial year. The director (IRDCE) is writing a proposal to DVC (Resources and Planning). The director is also looking into applying for donations from industry.

Office space. The shortage of office space and classrooms to conduct training is also a major challenge. In order to address this the institute is negotiating office space at the Development Centre that is currently used by Department of Sports where two staff members will be housed. We also intend to share the classrooms for training on the same Centre.

Shortage of staff membership that can do coordination for the department. Because the rural part is not clearly defined by the institute there is an urgent need for a coordinator(intern) who will coordinate research between the institution and the community involved, and also other community engagement activities. The coordinator will identify strategic projects that will put MUT on the map. The intern will work with Marcomms, and Marcomms will be willing to share resources with him/her for the rest of 2016.

MOU for Ikamva Youth and MUT has not been finalised since it was initiated in 2013. The director is following up.

Poor participation of the CE community in CE activities. It is hopeful that the allocation of the budget CE will encourage participation from the MUT community.

Other Initiatives

The 2016 Operational plan is in place together with the risk register that identify areas of risk and how they can be managed. Other strategic documents that are in place are the Community Engagement plan which communicates the direction of the institute and how the MUT community can plan their activities. Additionally, IRDCE has been introduced to a performance management system that will enhance the monitoring of goals that need to be achieved by the end of each year including 2016. Forms that the MUT community can use such as application to register a community engagement (CE) flagship/project and guidelines for application form for Community Engagement funds


IRDCE has initiated partnerships with the following organisations although they are not finalised:

University of Zululand and ARC for research and innovation in a way to uplift communities that MUT is engaged with.

Dexter and Matu Zama (DMZ) Agricultural Academy is in partnership with MUT-IRDCE in an effort to train co-operatives on the identified needs, promote environmental awareness and sustainable use of natural resources, co-ordinate technology transfer and promote entrepreneurial skills, share results of research conducted collaboratively, assist the academy in the implementation of research findings. The MOU for Dexter and Matu Zama (DMZ) Agricultural Academy was finalised in February 2016.

Empangisweni Trust is in partnership with MUT- IRDCE with a purpose of placing MUT students for Service Learning and Work Integrated Learning. Projects involved are field crop production, vegetables production, fruit production, piggery, livestock feedlots, small stock and broilers. Food processing, aquaculture and game farming are additional projects. Green Technology (Energy management), Reverse Engineering and agro mechanical, applied research. Education programme for schools (intervention in the form of workshops/ trainings for teachers and community upliftment programmes are part of the partnership agreement although the MOU is not finalised.

Ikamva Youth organisation (student volunteers from various departments within MUT with IRDCE.) The project serves to tutor grades 10 – 12 by student volunteers from MUT who volunteer their services on E-learning. The project is ongoing


The major challenge in this project is an MOU that was initiated in 2013 but has not been finalised.

Future Perspectives

With the introduction of postgraduate programmes the institute envisages to have post graduate students/post Docs stationed in the institute who will assist in:

Research and publications of research papers as a way of attracting funding from DHET.
The training of communities as a way of community development and as a spinoff, a third stream income
Fundraising activities
Reserves management
Identify and protect research ideas that have commercial application through patenting.