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UCT Council receives report from panel probing governance concerns

UCT Council receives report from panel probing governance concerns
The University of Cape Town has been embroiled in governance issues. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

The UCT Council has received the report from an independent panel investigating governance at the institution. The report, which will assist ‘Council to strengthen the governance of the university’, will remain confidential until its contents and recommendations have been fully considered.

An independent investigation into the governance crisis at the University of Cape Town (UCT), exposed by Daily Maverick in October 2022, has been concluded.

In a statement on Sunday, the chair of the UCT Council, Norman Arendse,  said the council had received the panel’s report.

“Council extends its appreciation to the panel for the detailed and important work that it has done and is confident that the report is a crucial step in assisting Council to strengthen the governance of the university,” Arendse said.

“The content of the report and the recommendations contained therein are now under consideration by Council and will be discussed at a further meeting that will be scheduled shortly.”

UCT, one of South Africa’s top universities, has faced months of instability in the wake of allegations of malfeasance and governance issues, as reported by Daily Maverick.

In October 2022, Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis reported that the UCT Council was described as increasingly toxic, with accusations of racism and claims of cover-ups. There were also accusations that both the then vice-chancellor, Mamokgethi Phakeng, and the then chair of the UCT Council, Babalwa Ngonyama, had deliberately misled the university’s governing bodies.

Dark days: Accusations of capture and governance instability rock UCT

Davis also reported that an independent panel chaired by a retired judge would investigate governance concerns at UCT involving Phakeng and Ngonyama.

Read more in Daily Maverick: UCT to launch probe into conduct of vice-chancellor and chairperson after gruelling council meeting  

The panel, chaired by retired Judge Lex Mpati, and comprising fellow retired Judge Azhar Cachalia, public sector governance expert Trish Hanekom and Wits transformation head Bernadette Johnson, formally began its work in February 2023.  

The council has resolved that the report will remain confidential until its contents and recommendations have been fully considered.

“It is recognised that many of the university’s stakeholders expect to be more fully informed and Council therefore undertakes to take the necessary steps to provide further details as soon as it is appropriate to do so,” it said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Matthew Quinton says:

    Send your kids to a European university. Don’t waste your money or their time sending them to study in that shithole. They can come home in the fullness of time and they will ALWAYS have loads of cheap labor waiting in desperation.


    The proposed decolonization of tertiary education has succeeded magnificently. Truly the UCT of today can be a proudly African institution celebrating the values of theft and mal administration.

    • David McCormick says:

      I have a son at UCT and work with a recent UCT graduate. Fortunately neither seems to to have found the institution as unsanitary as you. Hopefully with hard work and requisite accumen, my son will complete his degree in four years. I am relieved that he was accepted to a good university close enough to travel to daily from home. The cost of a European university and living expenses is beyond my reach, and starting a career with a mountain of student debt is debilitating. Yes, politics do play a role in UCT but as far as I can ascertain, the majority of students and lecturers ignore the politics and get on with studies.

    • Pet Bug says:

      I disagree with that over the top trashing of UCT.
      I would agree that there are serious issues at Bremner Building et al.
      That whole drama of thin-skinned personalities on the executive floor was not focused at all on furthering good basic undergraduate studies and guiding students toward further studies with deeper knowledge or identifying areas for novel and excellent research.
      The individual departments though retain excellent teaching, mentoring and supervisor academic personnel to provide world-class degrees.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Wherever unqualified, arrogant cadres are appointed who know they are out of their depth, there will always be black racism,because that is their only weapon. Every day when they see the people they have replaced and who they now direct, they are reminded of their inadaquaries.

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    Appropriate to do so? Over the years UCT has lost mega sponsorships simply because of its unsuitable choices, Phakeng being one of them. Now we hear that the report will probably be made available when it suits the laquees in council who were responsible for appointing an unsuitable candidate as the VC to start off with, despite warnings from a good chunk of academics not to do so. At the time, rather than considering the objections on their merits it was decided to turn the whole appointment into another political shit show and ignore the substance of the objections and concerns. Well the results are there for all to see and it will take UCT a very long time to recover the lost sponsorships if they will even ever recover them.

  • Dominic Rooney says:

    The gulf between the “European” and “African” responses to the accusations of Phakeng’s misdeeds were highly revealing. The one side’s position was : she’s guilty of lying to Council, an intolerable act by a vice-chancellor so she should be sacked without any delay or flim-flam. The other position was : let’s meet and discuss these matters to work out a solution; we understand leaders can be capricious but with goodwill on all sides we can sort this out. The difference appears to be based on the difference in perceptions of the roles of “leaders”.

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