Maverick Citizen


UCT council still in talks to choose new VC, but Moshabela is the senate’s frontrunner

UCT council still in talks to choose new VC, but Moshabela is the senate’s frontrunner
The three candidates shortlisted for the UCT top job are (from left) Professor José Frantz from the University of the Western Cape (Photo: UWC / Wikipedia); Professor Mosa Moshabela from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Photo: Supplied / Spotlight); and Professor Nosisi Nellie Feza of the University of Venda (Photo: University of Venda / Wikipedia).

The UCT senate, an influential structure within universities, has recommended Mosa Moshabela for the top job but the council has yet to announce the new vice-chancellor.

Talks are still under way to choose a suitable candidate from three senior academics vying for the University of Cape Town (UCT) top job.

Daily Maverick understands that the council, which is also considering the terms of the conditions of employment, are still discussing the candidates, who are Professor Matlagolo Mosa Moshabela of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Professor José Frantz of the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) and Professor Nosisi Nellie Feza of the University of Venda (Univen).

Moshabela is currently the deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation at UKZN, Frantz is a deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation at UWC and Feza is the deputy vice-chancellor for research and postgraduate studies at Univen.

The clarification comes amid reports that UCT had appointed Moshabela, which was not officially confirmed, and that he appears to be the frontrunner and the preferred candidate put forward by the influential UCT senate.

Being preferred by the senate, however powerful the structure may be, does not automatically imply that Moshabela will be appointed for the post.

This was borne out in the UWC vice-chancellor recruitment process, which led to tensions between the senate and council.

Read in Daily Maverick: Battle between senate and council at UWC over vice-chancellor appointment process heats up

Other factors, such as the candidate not agreeing to the terms of conditions, could also play a part in the appointment process.

UCT had to search for a new vice-chancellor after the departure of Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng on 3 March 2023.

Professor Dayanand Reddy has been acting as interim vice-chancellor.

The new candidates made presentations to the university community on 4 April on the topic “UCT is ranked as the premier African university. What would your priorities, with specific actions, be in your first two years as VC to consolidate this status, taking into account both emerging opportunities and challenges, as well as the ongoing need for transformation of the institution?”.

An insider confirmed to Daily Maverick on Thursday, 16 May, the senate’s position on Moshabela. 

“Well the senate voted overwhelmingly in support of his candidature. But you’ll need to contact the registrar’s office for confirmation,” the insider said.

Daily Maverick approached other university structures for comment, but they did not respond.

Echoing a UCT statement issued on Thursday, 16 May, Student Representative Council (SRC) president Hlamulo Khorommbi noted the appointment process was governed by the principle of confidentiality.

In its statement issued following the reports about Moshabela’s alleged appointment, UCT said: “The University of Cape Town (UCT) has noted media reports around the appointment of a new vice-chancellor (VC). The recruitment process for the appointment of the VC is ongoing. This process, like all other recruitment and selection processes, is governed by confidentiality. UCT will therefore provide further updates in due course, once all processes have been concluded.”

Khorommbi said that to preserve the integrity of the process, the SRC unfortunately could not answer questions about the appointment.

However, he said it should suffice that the SRC had been an integral part of the appointment process.

“We have made our views known in all stages of the appointment process and we will continue to do so until its finalisation,” he said.

Khorommbi said the SRC would rally behind whomever was eventually selected as the next vice-chancellor and trusted that the SRC’s views would be taken seriously. 

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the recruitment process for the appointment of the UCT vice-chancellor was ongoing.

“Noting that confidentiality is essential in all recruitment and selection processes, UCT will provide further updates in due course, once all processes have been concluded,” Moholola said.

About the three candidates

According to his CV, Moshabela is a medical practitioner working as a specialist. His qualifications include a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery obtained from UKZN in 2001, a Diploma in HIV from the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa (2006), a Master of Medicine in Family Medicine from the University of Limpopo (Medunsa campus) in 2009, a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the University of Witwatersrand (2012) and a Master of Science (MSc) in Demography and Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK in 2017.

He is also the faculty member of the HIV, Infectious Disease and Global Health Implementation Research Institute at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, in the US.

In his role at UKZN, he oversees a large institution-wide portfolio, including research management, development, ethics, integrity, capacity building, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer and commercialisation.

His other positions include chairperson of the National Research Foundation board, former chairperson of the standing committee on health at the Academy of Science of South Africa and former board member of the South African Medical Research Council.

Frantz has a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy obtained at UWC in 1993, an Orthopaedic Manipulative Care qualification from the University of Stellenbosch (1997), an MSc in Physiotherapy from UWC (2000) and a PhD in Physiotherapy from UWC (2004).

She attended a university leadership and management training course at the University of Oldenburg, Germany, in 2016, a values-based leadership course at UCT in 2019 and a strategic leadership programme at Oxford University, London, also in 2019.

She has previously worked at UWC as faculty dean of Community and Health Sciences, deputy dean of research in the same faculty and was head of the physiotherapy department.

Feza obtained a PhD in Mathematics Education from the State University of New York in Buffalo, New York, in 2009, and she was a teaching and research assistant at the university.

She also achieved a Master of Education in Mathematics from Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in 2005, a Bachelor of Education Honours in Science and Mathematics Education from NMU in 2002, a Bachelor of Education in Science and Mathematics Education from NMU (2001), a Further Diploma in Mathematics Education from Rhodes University (1999), a Diploma in Education specialising in Primary School Education from the South African College for Teacher Education in Pretoria (1999), a Diploma in Primary Mathematics Education from Cambridge University, London (1998), among others.

She was campus rector at Walter Sisulu University, dean of Humanities at the Central University of Technology, head of the Institute of Science and Technology at the University of South Africa, senior research specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council, a research fellow at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, in the US, and was a Mathematics Education lecturer at NMU. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mike Monson says:

    Why is ethnicity still considered the sole objective of transformation? Surely after 3 decades of racial bias in appointments at every level, it is high time that merit should be the overriding criterion in all appointments.

  • Bill Gild says:

    I pity the chosen VC. He, or she, will have to deal with competing agendas – remnants of the woke brigade that continue to wreak havoc on academic excellence, a student body that remains increasingly apathetic insofar as even voting for the SRC, a professoriate that is being decimated by racial quotas, and a rabid and growing body of anti-semitic entities that virtually guarantees avoidance of UCT as a choice of quality tertiary education.
    Max Price started the ball rolling, Phakeng was nothing but a dangerous and incompetent narcissist, so the next VC faces almost insurmountable challenges.

  • Samuel Ginsberg says:

    Where are the international candidates? The rest of the world is a big place.

    • Bill Gild says:

      You have to be kidding! No half-way competent international academic/leader would seriously consider applying for this poisoned chalice.

  • Justin Pringle says:

    Daily maverick, may I suggest you do a deep dive into the leadership success of each of these candidates. The VC of any HEI in RSA is a helluva important position given the status of our country and the role HEIs play in leading us out of our mess. If you start with Moshabela and look at the research an innovation stats at UKZN, you will see all of the figures are in serious decline. Highly productive researchers have left the institute, there are practically no meaningful start ups coming out of UKZN and productivity units are down. To me this suggests poor leadership and should be a harbinger of what will come at UCT…

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