UNIVERSITY GOVERNANCE CRISIS
Former UCT Council chair Babalwa Ngonyama resigns from another board after independent panel report
In the aftermath of the scathing report by the independent panel investigating governance failures at the University of Cape Town, the university’s former Council chair, Babalwa Ngonyama, has resigned from yet another company board.
Former UCT Council chair Babalwa Ngonyama has resigned from the board of Camissa Asset Management.
Camissa Asset Management CEO and founder Roland Greaver confirmed to Daily Maverick on Friday morning that Ngonyama had resigned as a non-executive director of the company on 8 November.
Ngonyama did not provide a reason for her departure from the company, said Greaver. However, he added: “I think it’s consistent with all her other resignations from boards. I think it’s just the right thing to do.”
The former UCT Council chair resigned from the Vukile Property Fund board of directors on 2 November, the day after the release of a 179-page report by an independent panel investigating governance failures at the higher education institution, Business Day reported.
She also resigned from the board of Hollard insurance company, following the report’s release.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Former UCT Council chair Babalwa Ngonyama resigns from Hollard board after independent panel report
The independent panel report spits fire at UCT’s recent leadership; excoriating Ngonyama and former vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
Phakeng “repeatedly conducted herself unprofessionally by engaging in activity that is prohibited in the UCT workplace, including using threats, intimidation, ethnic slurs, personal insults and also posting racially offensive material on social media”, the report concluded.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Independent report spits fire at UCT’s recent leadership, blasting Mamokgethi Phakeng
Phakeng’s behaviour, it found, was aided and protected by Ngonyama’s multiple breaches of good governance.
“Ngonyama’s conduct in failing to perform her fiduciary duty to UCT… must be reported to the appropriate regulatory authorities,” the report recommended.
The report found Ngonyama and Phakeng had initiated the termination of former deputy vice-chancellor Lis Lange’s contract “without having the authority to do so”, and also misled the UCT Council and Senate regarding the circumstances of her departure.
“To conclude that Ngonyama and Phakeng’s conduct during this period amounted to a governance failure would be an understatement,” it found.
The findings of the independent panel vindicate a Daily Maverick investigation in October 2022, that initially exposed the governance crisis within the University of Cape Town.
Ngonyama resigned from UCT with immediate effect on 22 May 2023, following a recommendation by the independent panel, in an interim report, that she be removed immediately.
Read in Daily Maverick: UCT chair Babalwa Ngonyama resigns following governance panel’s recommendations
“Her removal cannot wait for the panel to complete its work and finalise its report, much less wait for the matter to be dragged through the courts. The facts are clear, and Council must act,” the interim report concluded.
Shortly after departing from the university’s Council, she also resigned from the board of the pharmaceutical group Aspen in May, News24 reported.
Ngonyama’s company Sinayo Capital, which she co-founded with Khumo Shongwe, is still a majority shareholder in Camissa Asset Management.
“There are no immediate reasons to review our relationship with Sinayo as an entity,” Greaver told Daily Maverick. “We’ve got good relationships with the entity.”
While Ngonyama has been feeling the heat since the publication of the report, Phakeng announced this week that she had signed an agreement to work with a Cyprus-based brokerage to learn more about online scams and trading.
Phakeng avoided suspension by the UCT Council by reaching agreement on a R12.5-million early retirement package in February this year.
In response to questions from Daily Maverick, Ngonyama referred us to Camissa Asset Management for comment, saying she felt it “appropriate that the company responds”. DM