The Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) has entered into a partnership with the University of South Africa’s (UNISA) School of Governance that will see the two institutions collaborate on issues and activities regarding economic policy research and analysis.

The partnership entails ESEPARC and UNISA working together in hosting public lectures, seminars, workshops, and training. ESEPARC will also, where necessary, contract UNISA to provide training on behalf of the Centre, as well as to conduct research on its behalf.

During a ceremony held to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday (February 11) at UNISA in Pretoria, Vice Chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya said such collaborations are important for the university in that they also help them reflect on the type of work the institution does.

“When policy and practice are not intact and grounded, you find that you struggle to get things to work. We are bearing witness to some of these challenges that are confronting us as a nation, and we are saying to ourselves that until such time that we pay attention to areas of policy and practice we are not going to get anywhere,” he said.

“So we are pleased that the context of the type of work that you are doing as ESEPARC and similarly, the type of work done by our School of Governance – which by its very nature is an instrument that brings to bear issues of policy and practice in our own environment and of course having a relationship across the board with the various entities within the institution – is better placed to have a relationship of this nature with ESEPARC.”

Adding, Prof Makhanya said as a university, they are very keen to understand what it means to have collaborations like this and especially ones that matter. “We are operating in this part of the world as a university that is fully cognisant of its role, we are driven by our own mission and vision. The extent to which we become visible in a manner in which these collaborations take root and extend to our own people, is the extent to which we collaborate and ensure that the manner in which we work is not necessarily defined by the boundaries of where people live, particularly as people of the South,” he noted.

The vice chancellor further assured ESEPARC that the university would ensure that it provides support wherever it can in terms of policy research and administrative matters of every kind that will be required in the context of the relationship.

“Similarly, we are going to be strengthening this relationship in a manner that goes beyond what is envisaged from your side. We are pleased with this partnership as we know it is not going to just end here but will grow from strength to strength. We are hoping that your experiences and work will also extend to other entities within the institution.”

ESEPARC’s outgoing Executive Director Dr Thula Sizwe Dlamini said the Centre is also very pleased to be collaborating with a university of such calibre in the region. “This is us trying to reclaim the policy discourse and being part of the crafting of the future that we want for Eswatini. We are excited to be signing this MoU with UNISA; we feel it is important for us to have access to experts who will augment our understanding of economic policy and in particular, what issues of economic governance mean.

“This is one part of a South-South collaboration that we are sure to be very proud of for many generations to come. We are very pleased to partner with UNISA and we are looking at drawing a lot of the professors here to come and share their insights, as well as to help us build economic policy analysis capacity and critical mass in terms of how to develop the economy in a changing global environment. We look forward to doing a lot of work with the School of Governance.”