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Prof Mosa Moshabela to be announced as UCT vice-chancellor 

Prof Mosa Moshabela to be announced as UCT vice-chancellor 
Illustrative Image: Professor Mosa Moshabela (Photo: Supplied / Spotlight) | Former UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng during an interview on May 26, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Esa Alexander) | Sarah Baartman Hall and Memorial Plaza, AT UCT Upper Campus. (Photo: Adrian Frith/ Wikipedia

After weeks of speculation, UCT’s Council is expected to announce the successor to Mamokgethi Phakeng’s who left the institution under a cloud, but with a golden handshake.

University of Cape Town (UCT) council chairperson Norman Arendse is expected to announce Prof Mosa Moshabela as the university’s new vice-chancellor on Friday.

Moshabela, whose name was put forward by the UCT Senate, is currently the deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

He is also a 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, Moshabela oversees a large institution-wide portfolio, including research management, development, ethics, integrity, capacity building, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer and commercialisation.

Read more in Daily Maverick: UCT council still in talks to choose new VC, but Moshabela is the senate’s frontrunner

Other positions he holds or has held include the National Research Foundation board chair, the former chair 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.

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

He will be taking over from Prof Dayanand Reddy, who has been acting as interim vice-chancellor since the departure of Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng on 3 March 2023.

An independent panel tasked with investigating governance failures at the University of Cape Town released a report in November last year painting a picture of a deeply divide and traumatised university.

It was scorching in its condemnation of both former vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng and former UCT Council chair Babalwa Ngonyama, stating: “To conclude that Ngonyama and Phakeng’s conduct during this period amounted to a governance failure would be understatement”.

The report by an independent panel investigating governance failures at UCT in recent years excoriated Phakeng. It painted a picture of a narcissistic and thin-skinned leader who exploited and encouraged racial divisions – talking up a narrative of racial empowerment in public while saving some of her worst abuse for black women in private.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Independent report spits fire at UCT’s recent leadership, blasting Mamokgethi Phakeng

There is no doubt Moshabela will have to prioritise the healing of the institution.

Also contending for the top job at UCT are Prof José Frantz, deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation at the University of the Western Cape (UWC); and University of Venda deputy vice-chancellor for research and postgraduate studies, Prof Nosisi Nellie Feza.

The trio presented 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 emerging opportunities and challenges as well as the ongoing need for transformation of the institution?”

UCT advertised the post on 19 December 2023 and applications closed on 31 January. The position is for five years, renewable subject to a satisfactory performance review.


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).

Rival candidates

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

This is in addition to a University Leadership and Management Training Course (2016) from the University of Oldenburg, Germany; Values-Based Leadership (2019) at UCT, and a Strategic Leadership Programme (2019) from Oxford University, UK.

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 has a PhD in Mathematics Education (2009) from the State University of New York, Buffalo, and was also a teaching and research assistant at the university.

She has a Master’s of Education in Mathematics (2005) from Nelson Mandela University (NMU); a Bachelor of Education Honours in Science and Mathematics Education (2002) from NMU; a Bachelor of Education in Science and Mathematics Education (2001) from NMU; a Further Diploma in Mathematics Education (1999) from Rhodes University; a Diploma in Education specialising in Primary School Education (1999) from the South African College for Teacher Education in Pretoria; and a Diploma in Primary Mathematics Education (1998) from Cambridge University, UK,  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; Research Fellow at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, US, and a Mathematics Education lecturer at NMU. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Martin Neethling says:

    For current UCT students and Faculty, and Alumni who are spread across the globe, there will be a collective holding of breath to see who Prof Moshabela really is. As is now common in SA, appointments seem thorough, only for the anointed individual to fully reveal their stripes after. Phakeng being a perfect example. Mkhwebane another.
    Is Moshala first and foremost focused on ‘transformation’, or rather on excellence. Is his idea of ‘healing the institution’ about ripping down statues and entertaining banal conversations about ‘decolonisation’, or about genuinely wanting the campus buzzing, lecture halls full, and the library bursting at the seams as students flock back to in-person. Will he stand his ground when attacked by the EFF-captured student bodies and insist on true representatives of student voices, or let political parties massage the narrative. Will he encourage real exchange of views, where visiting speakers and academics can hold views contrary to the dogma of the day and actually hold a stage and complete a speech, or will he be cowed to silence voices that might hurt people’s feelings. Much to be revealed.

    • Alan Paterson says:

      Excellent comment, thank you. Now we wait.

      • Bill Gild says:

        Agreed! Excellent comment. UCT is in dire need of strong, principled leadership that focusses solely on rebuilding the academic excellence for which UCT had been known for generations.
        It does not need another mealy-mouthed, confused leader who panders to the thugs and wannabee “liberators” who brought the university to the very brink of irrelevance.

    • Mpho Mashele says:

      i wonder if the proposed Name of the VC was Van der Walt, Burger or Pretorius this comment/concern was going to be raised, just wondering

      • Tumelo Tumelo says:

        Mpho, the veiled bigotry on these pages is simply breathtaking- in 2024- you simply have to look below for more evidence. When a non-black is hired any position, the automatic assumption is that they were the best person. When Black people are hired, it’s assumed because of affirmative action- which by the way does not mean under-qualified as Prof Moshabela’s C.V attests. If affirmative action or BBBEE never existed, a lot of non-blacks would still believe deeply in their own superiority as that is what is taught. Another hilarious factor is that BBBEE has benefitted a plethora of white woman, but you won’t hear a beep about that.

        • Karl Sittlinger says:

          Let me ask you this:
          Do you think that if Phakeng would have been a white woman her behavior would have been tolerated for so long? The comment above is a direct consequence of allowing unacceptable behavior for so long in the name of transformation at the cost of excellence. Or do you think Phakeng did a good job?

  • Just Me says:

    Toxic BEE appointees,like Mamokgethi Phakeng, should never have happened.

    She failed dismally and should not receive a golden handshake,but should rather be charged for bringing the university into disrepute.

    The sooner SA sunsets BEE the better.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    The previous permanent incumbent also had a degree in Mathematical Educaion, meaning Education, not Maths…..and was a disaster. … wonders about the competencies of the Senate and Council over the last two decades.

  • Agf Agf says:

    I don’t know the Professor from a bar of soap. I’ve never heard his name mentioned in any context whatsoever. I just hope that in appointing him he has been properly vetted to ensure that not only are his academic qualifications valid but that he is emotionally and mentally capable of the job required of him. The previous incumbent was clearly totally unsuitable no matter how many degrees she had. If all goes well I wish him the best of luck. A poisoned chalice if ever there was one.

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