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Kwena is proof that Unisa develops top talent in SA

Kwena Molokomme.

“I had to do something about my situation even if it meant taking a career risk.”   —Kwena Molokomme

Unisans are often faced with the challenge of making tough career decisions and, in some instances, taking risks. One example is Kwena Molokomme, a former Unisan who resigned from a permanent position to take up an internship at the National Assembly, Office of the Speaker.

Although it is not pleasant to lose talented employees, this should be seen in the context of a university that produces talent towards nation building. Unisa has a social responsibility to develop talent for the country and Kwena and many other former Unisans provide proof that Unisa is indeed playing a significant role in fulfilling this mandate of developing talent.

Unisa connected with Kwena, who is now Assistant Director of Institutional Capacity at the Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department. This is how the conversation went.

How did you come to know about Talent Management?

Through my former line manager, Ms Lindelwa Mahonga, still my mentor, who guided my career development. She referred me to Ms Lynette Naidoo, Talent Management Specialist, who played a part in further advising and guiding me. The Talent Management team also arranged coaching sessions for me, which I am grateful for as it assisted immensely in  assisting me in identifying my personal strength and interests in relation to my career goals.

Take us through your journey from Unisa to the National Assembly.

I felt that my degree in Communication Science and Honours in Politics were gathering dust, as I was employed in an IT environment. I had to do something about my situation even if it meant taking a career risk. After consulting the Unisa Talent Management Unit as well as my line manager, I decided to apply for an internship programme at Parliament of the Republic of South Africa in Cape Town and, fortunately, I was successful in securing the position. I then resigned from Unisa even though only very few people supported my decision. My family, friends and some colleagues discouraged me from taking the internship due to the high risk in respect of stability that comes with any internship opportunity.

What were your areas of functionality within the office of the Speaker?

When I first arrived, I assisted Mr Andile Mphunga in the Office of the Speaker with the following: Research and Procedural issues, facilitated the interface between Parliament and Chapter 9 institutions, attended Portfolio Committee meetings on behalf of the office of the Speaker, writing of letters to the Ministers and the President, accompanied Portfolio Committees during oversight trips and taking Parliament to People, organised the State of the Nation address, budget speech and budget votes.

Then Mr Mphunga was seconded to the Parliament Policy Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, where we moved together to deal with institutional performance, policy development, strategic and operational planning, developing stakeholder management and communication strategic plan, monitoring and evaluation,  performance reports and assisted national departments with their performance reports.

Given the spotlight on the office of the speaker in the recent past, how has it contributed to your personal and professional/ career development? 

It was a life-changing experience. The Office of the Speaker comes with high responsibilities and pressure, it taught me the importance of teamwork, policy, strategy, ethics, communication, planning, and stakeholder management, line management assurance, benchmarking best practice, accountability and oversight, reporting, measuring performance, monitoring and tracking.

What is your next step?

With one month remaining on my 12 months internship programme, I got a position at Gauteng Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department as an Assistant Director: Institutional Capacity (Provincial Disaster Management).

I would like to thank  Ms Mahonga, Ms Naidoo, and The Talent Management team, Mr Morgan Mashweu from Student Funding, my all-time mentor Professor Mpho Ngoepe from Unisa’s Information Science Department, and Mr Andile Mphunga from the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa.

*Submitted by Dzivhu Mundalamo