How did UCT respond to the melee at the Ngũgĩ lecture? To summarize this, I quote extensively from an article on the event: Does UCT value its values? by Prof. Jeremy Seekings (Senate member of the IRTC SC),
“Neither the Acting Vice-Chancellor nor the Acting Dean of Humanities issued any kind of public statement, even after the event attracted considerable comment on social media. Both UCT managers tried to wriggle out of any responsibility. Asked in UCT’s Senate on Friday, 31 March why the university had been silent, the Vice-Chancellor suggested that this has not been a normal university event. The Acting Dean of Humanities then muddied the water by suggesting that it had not been a faculty event either. There had, he suggested, been some issue to do with the organisation of the lecture. Pressed further at a meeting of the Humanities Faculty Board on 5 April, the Acting Dean of Humanities seemed to suggest that the event was Professor Mangcu’s personal initiative and had nothing to do with the faculty – despite the facts that the event had been advertised (and later reported) as part of UCT’s premier public lecture series, the audience had been welcomed by the Director of the Institute for Creative Arts, and the Acting Dean himself had introduced the speaker! In a telling aside, the Acting Dean remarked that it would have been “provocative” to hold the protesters to account. In Senate, the VC did concede that the event was ‘seen’ by the public to be a university event and as such the university had erred in not issuing a statement. Neither the VC nor the Acting Dean has done anything to date.”
In short: “The VC and the Acting Dean of Humanities tried to pass the buck, by remaining silent, became complicit not only in racial intolerance at a public UCT event but also in behaviour that is degenerating into openly racial hate-speech. It seems that the university does not value its values.”
Alumni Association attempted hijack and SRC spurned
15 March: UCT Alumni Association (AA) held its delayed AGM. Alumni argued that the AGM’s chairperson, Ms Dianna Yach, unilaterally violated the AA’s Constitution.
Perhaps because of its late notice, the AGM was poorly attended, barely exceeding the quorum of 40.
The first item on the agenda was a RESOLUTION TO RECONSTITUTE THE ALUMNI ADVISORY BOARD (AAB). It proposed to create a large management body, the “General Council/General Assembly”, which would be dominated by eight additional members (versus three elected by the AA) from “affinity/chapters/interest groups” or “volunteers of note”. Just how these ‘affinity/interested/ volunteers’ might be elected or co-opted is unspecified. Also, the reconstituted AAB would revert to an “executing body”.
The motion was deferred for revision/clarification because it implementation could lead to the AA being controlled by “affinity/interest” groups not representative the full diversity of alumni opinion.
One motion considered is based on premises that criticisms of UCT’s Executive in social media were “rhetorical abuse from both sides aimed personally at denigrating VC Max Price” and that” key decisions and choices were not made by one man, but were considered by a team of veteran UCT leaders”, and are “collective [in] nature”. It called for a condemnation of this objectionable criticism and an affirmation of collective accountability for executive decisions.
In the end, without voting, those still present (by then <40) only called for rational debate at UCT and condemned ad hominem attack, in any form.
Another motion called for no further financial exclusions for students and condemnation of “offensive behaviour”. The motion was not supported because the “financial exclusions” part of the motion failed to discriminate between students on the basis of ability to pay, academic performance and involvement with law-breaking protests.
There was confusion vis-à-vis the “offensive behaviour” part of the motion. Does it apply to lawbreaking protesters (who will be dealt with by the SC IRTC) or only to individuals who commit even “micro-aggressive” racist acts?
In the end, there was no vote on the motion.
There were fewer than 30 attendees by the time the last motion was presented/discussed.
It called for “support for the [current] Student Representative Council (SRC), celebrating the positive impact that they have had during very difficult times”.
When the chairperson called for a vote (by hand), a majority supported the motion. However, after an impassioned objection by Lorna Houston led to its reversal.
TC: So, emotion rules.
More invasion, demands and appeals
29 March: The UCT Executive had a lengthy meeting with 100 Fallist students to discuss academic exclusions and, to a lesser extent, financial exclusion issues. Although, there is agreement on the need to review all academic exclusions and to alert the students to apply individually to initiate the review process, at the end of the meeting, a group of about 30 people (including non-UCT Lindsay Maasdorp) occupied the Mafeje Room in the Bremner Building and forward a set of new demands to the Executive. Since the Executive believed that, over months, it had resolved many matters and made substantial and significant progress on many of the demands and others can never be met, it starts a legal process to remove the group from Mafeje. Individuals are served with official instructions to leave the building or face the consequences.
These “instructions” were ignored by invaders.
Invaders’ statement/demands: The Rapid Response Task Team (RRTT) failed to adhere to the agreement and subsequent concessions related to academic exclusion and financial exclusion.
1. No black student should be academically or economically excluded!
2. Academic Exclusion: a. An automatic review of all cases of academically excluded students premised on the call for no academic exclusion b. A review of RAC itself and its decision makers c. Inclusion of a student representative as deployed by Shackville TRC, within the RAC review committee d. All students who were declined via RAC process, must be contacted by all means (phone, letter, email, sms, face-to-face) and informed that their case will be reviewed and that they will have the right to decline or accept the review process e. All students who accept the review process must be assisted with transportation and/or the cost of transportation including sustenance to return to UCT f. All students undergoing review process must have full student rights: i. Reactivation of MyUCT email address & Vula ii. Full academic access including lectures and tutoring iii. Reactivation of student accounts (MyUCT, Vula) of all academically excluded students and communication to them of the current reviewing of their cases iv. Allocation of accommodation and sustenance while RAC process is underway
3. Economic Exclusion a. Source funding for all black students who are considered academically eligible. b. Source funding for all students who are not considered academically eligible under the premise that the institution and socio-economic factors makes academic illegibility impossible for the black student c. All students undergoing review process must have full student rights. d. A reallocation of UCT funds to a newly constructed fund that ensures that no student may be economically excluded. e. We demand an immediate registration for all black students that have a fee block regardless of the amount of their debt. We demand with immediate effect the reactivation of these student accounts (MyUCT, Vula). f. We demand all black students that have a fee block to be allocated accommodation with immediate effect.
30 March: Transformation DVC and RRTT chair Loretta Feris issued a long, constructive statement aimed at Fallists and deals with financial and academic exclusions.
Feris “appealed” to the invaders to “vacate the Mafeje Room urgently” since the “occupation is unacceptable” and “in breach of the November 6 Agreement. Failing this: “We are considering several action steps.”
Invaders ignored her.
31 March: Another placatory statement/request from Feris. Senate supported the decision to review all academic exclusions. A panel is constituted to address the Fallist demands.
Feris closed: “We believe that we have proved that we are serious about implementing the agreement reached. We thus appeal to all students still occupying Bremner to please vacate Bremner.”
Invaders ignored her.
1 April: Mafeje Room remained occupied. Executive appealed again to Fallists to vacate Bremner Building.3 April: Occupation of Mafeje Room finally ended, following an “arrangement” between the Executive and Fallist invaders. No action is taken, even against non-UCT invaders, including Lindsay Maasdorp, a Fallist leader, who physically attacked Price during 2016 and defamed Mangcu a few days before.
Re-admission Appeals Committees undermined
4 April: Members of the Science RAC (Readmission Appeals Committee) expressed deep concern relating to the decision, (in response to the ‘Mafeje Invasion’) by members of UCT’s executive to conduct “an automatic review of all academic exclusions”. This action overrides university-wide rules determined by Senate (the body designated by statute as being accountable to Council for overseeing teaching and research at UCT) governing the readmission appeals process. Furthermore, every application received was discussed in detail by the members of the RACs, and “all extenuating circumstances and supporting documents were examined exhaustively. Decisions by RACs to uphold Faculty Examination Committee (FEC) exclusions were taken with the student’s best long-term interests in mind.”
Having “a sweeping review of every rejected appeal … delegitimized the entire process of reviewing academic exclusion decisions”. This is yet another assault on the university’s academic integrity, which currently assures that our graduates are highly sought after by employers and other universities for post-graduate study. Last, but not least, it is an extraordinary slight upon the members of the committee, since it creates the impression that corrective action is being taken due to incompetence or malfeasance on the part of the committee members”.
TC: In short, a failed chemistry student’s eligibility for readmission can be assessed better by a bureaucrat than a chemistry professor.5 April: Price responded: Both the context of the decision to undertake the reviews and the motivation were explained in Senate, and obtained significant majority support for proceeding. The review is “a way of strengthening and defending the RAC process by either validating how they have operated, or by highlighting systemic problems or inconsistencies across faculties that could be corrected through the review process”. “This will instil greater trust [by the students] in the process” since excluded students question the “ability of the RACs to assess the impact of the protests and disruptions and other social and personal factors”.
TC: So, bureaucrats can correct chemists vis-à-vis Chemistry-related “problems” and be “trusted”?
Price assured the RACs that any proposal to readmit a student that the RAC turned down will first be discussed with the relevant faculty authority to understand the case in more depth.
TC: One wonders what RAC academics and support staff who went the “extra 10 miles to ensure that the 2016 academic year could be concluded” will do so this year in the light of such treatment by the Executive. Also, I suspect that academics who currently eschew personally profitable consulting work in order to focus on research that benefits UCT in general and post-graduate students in particular may not remain so altruistic. This could lower the inflow of valued research grants and graduated-student and publication subsidy, not to mention UCT’s NRF ratings and institutional academic ranking nationally and internationally.
Alleged arsonists have “social lives”12 April: Constitutional Court ruled against the ‘Shackville Five’: Alexandria Hotz, Masixole Mlandu, Chumani Maxwele, Slovo Magida and Zola Shokane, requiring them to pay their own costs in the High Court. However, the Executive’s request that the Five be restrained from entering any of the University’s premises infringed of the Five’s rights of freedom of movement and association with others, and was a “substantial intervention in their social lives”.
The Five further maintained that their destructive and illegal actions were justified since there is a “seething” sense of injustice that prevails among university students, and the State and UCT fail to provide free, quality and decolonized education.
Nevertheless, the Five face contempt of court charges should they commit new offenses.
TC: So, the “social lives” of lawbreaking Fallists are more important than a functioning
Old names linger
15 April: Reminder: Submission deadline for renaming of Jameson Hall.
Despite many suggestions, still no news.
Old guard hangs on18 April: Council chose to defer the initiation of the search process to replace Price, who will end his second five-year term on 30 June 2018. This despite the norm to start 18 months before the end of the contract of the sitting VC.
TC: Why? To give him more unfettered time to ‘decolonize’? It seems that the selection process will now go ahead, but with the real possibility of creating yet another layer in the hierarchical Senior Leadership Group: that of a Chief Operating Officer.
Students Reject a ‘un-Representative’ Council
4 May: An uncharacteristically strong message comes from its 30000 students. Nearly 90% of the students eligible to vote rejected intimidation-based representation on the SRC. They are sick and tired of ideology and politics on campus in general and intimidating, violent and destructive Fallist tactics against the UCT Students Representative Council (SRC) in particular. In fact, the Executive had delayed the SRC election until Fallist Masixole Mlandu, the multi-arrested (for contravening a high court order, malicious damage to property, trespassing, and intimidation), ‘Black’ nationalist, Agreement signatory, ‘clemencied’, PASMA leader was available.
Students refused to participate in a sham election overwhelmingly dominated by apparatchik pro-Fallist candidates by not voting or actually voting against them. In fact, even in spite of this boycott, all of the independent, anti-intimidation candidates were elected, finishing 1, 2 and 4 respectively in the final tally.
The number 1 ‘vote-getter’ made her open mind crystal clear in her ‘vision statement’: “You can't change a regime on the basis of compassion. There's got to be something harder. If you asked me a month ago who the SRC was and what they do, I wouldn’t have been able to answer you. For too long has the SRC been a group of students merely in theoretical existence, who represented a student opinion which had no accountability”.
The competing ‘theoretical existentialist’ candidates largely represent the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters Students' Command (EFFSC)], both of whose “basic programme[s] [are] the complete overthrow of a neoliberal anti-black system and the realisation of students' power”.
The top (500 votes behind the leader) Fallist candidate was Mlandu who had to be released from incarceration in Pollsmoor Prison to ‘negotiate’ the November Agreement. But, by illegally occupying the Bremner Building at the end of March 2017, he violated his ‘clemency’. In reality, he received less than 5% of the potential student votes, and is noted for stating: “We will usher into this country an attitude of black rage, black liberation, an attitude that threatened the foundation of whiteness” “Revolution is the answer to our problem. … We must live up to our historical task … to change society from bottom up with no compromise”.
Another SRC ‘winner’ and ‘clemency’ violator was EFFSC candidate Sinawo Thambo, setting the scene for an unprecedented governing coalition between the EFF and PASMA.
Why the voting boycott?
Why did most students choose to boycott and not participate in the SRC election? Some might attribute this decision to students’ disgust with the publicized disgraceful rejection by the UCT Alumni Association of a motion calling for “support for the [outgoing] SRC, celebrating the positive impact that they have had during very difficult times”. Initially, a vote by hand supported the motion. But, this decision was overturned by an impassioned plea from staunch pro-Fallists Ms Lorna Houston (President of the UCT Convocation and key ‘player’ in its Internal Reconciliation and Transformation Commission) and meeting chairperson Ms Dianna Yach. VC Price was present but contributed nothing to the debate on this motion.
The “difficult times” mentioned in the motion relate to unrelenting intimidation during 2016 by PASMA-affiliated Fallists and Mlandu in particular. Because of this, some described the failure of the Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO) [which had been a dominant force in the SRC of recent years] to put up candidates as “gutless”. I countered this, arguing that students chose not to participate because of a collapse in their confidence in the endlessly capitulating UCT Executive, academic staff and alumni.
In the end, rather than calling for new elections, UCT’s Executive and Council approved the illegitimate election of the ‘top’ 15 candidates as an interim Students’ Representative Council (SRC).
TC: In short, they cede control to a visionless, violent and destructive minority bent on deconstructive “decolonization” of Africa’s finest university.
There is no indication of when a ‘real’ election will be held.
In any event, in early July, both of Mlandu and Thambo were accused of sexual harassment and rape, admitted inappropriate behaviour and ‘justifiably’ were temporarily suspended by the SRC. They admitted misbehaviour, but avoided prosecution when their accusers refused to charge them formally.
Now they’re back in power
24 June: A selectively advertised and attended (secret?) meeting was held to announce the results of SLG-sponsored research into institutional discrimination against ‘black’ academics vis-à-vis ad hominem promotion.
The coordinator of the research, Prof. Robert Morrell (head of the Next Generation Professoriate programme), reported that there is none. This result has not been reported widely and I hear that a member of the Black Academic Caucus strongly contests the conclusion.
Four months have passed without the transparent dissemination of any report on the original or any ‘new’ findings from Morrell or Transformation DVC Feris’ Rapid Response Task Team.
11 July: At last, the UCT Executive explains its ‘chicken-like’ approach to “Decolonization”
Space, truth and being
Law professor, former Black Academic Caucus (BAC) vice-chairperson and current DVC for Transformation, Loretta Feris describes decolonization at UCT as a transformation into “a pluri-versal space” “where there is more than one central truth, where there is more than one dominant culture and where there is more than one way of being as a person”.
Weren’t pluralism and pluralistic spaces central pillars of Apartheid?
What is the current, single “central truth” at UCT? According to Feris-invited speaker Prof. C.K. Raju, there is not one in mathematics or physics. There certainly is NOT one in biology, other than perhaps Evolution. For example, there is the perennial ‘nature vs nurture’ debate and, more specifically, there is molecular reductionism and genetic/selective determinism versus Smutsian ecological holism and historical contingency. In short, DNA does not stand for Don’t Need Anatomy!
At UCT, some of these debates go back to Lancelot Hogben in the 1920s and are ongoing. Let’s hear more on this from other scientists, social/humanitarians, philosophers and medics!
Isn’t “Truth” supposed to be the one "objective reality" that we strive to attain through an active process of engagement with the world and verification, excluding individual, religious, mythological, ideological or political biases? That was UCT VC T.B. Davie’s vision in 1950. Is this to be abandoned in favour of some Nietzschean vision of choosing among interpretations depending on who currently has power?
Now, of course, we have “context”. Depending on it, we can either read or burn Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," published in 1885. Is it an enduring work of American literature and a biting social satire or a denigration of slaves? Of course
Didn’t Mandela call for an end to “dominant cultures” of any kind? Is the ‘Old Boys’ network to be ‘complemented’ or replaced by a ‘Xhosa Nostra’? Is the BAC a ‘melanised’ blend of the Afrikaner Nasionale Studentebond and Broederbond? Despite searching the internet and asking Price, Feris, and the BAC Chairperson, I have yet to see a copy of the BAC Constitution. May a ‘white’ join it? When and where does it meet? Who is it helping other than lawbreaking Fallists?
With regard to Feris’ call for institutionalized ‘multi-being’, there always have been political parties, cultural societies, the communist/capitalist divide and science vs ‘séance’ debate (at least until 2015) at UCT. Does Feris now wish to add ‘restoratively justified, law-breaking anarchy’ to the mix? With regard to gender/sexuality issues, Saunders’ strongly supported the formation of UCT’s Gay and Lesbian Association >30 years ago.What does the Executive actually do? – Plead to populism?
Perhaps because Feris has to spend so much of her time chairing the Rapid Response Task Team (RRTT) and the Strategic Executive Task Team (SETT) and serving on the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission Steering Committee (IRTC SC), she demurs that UCT is “steeped in bureaucracy”, and “it is often difficult and cumbersome to make decisions”. Yes, the “slow pace of transformation” is due to a UCT “ruled by committee”, which “puts the brakes on decision-making.” It seems that all she, Price and the Fallists want to do is to create more committees to deal with art, symbols, re-re-admission, curriculum ‘cleansing’ and amnesty while they undermine the Academic Freedom Committee, freedom of speech and artistic expression and Faculty Readmission Committees.
Given her misgivings, why hasn’t Feris broken ranks with the Senior Leadership Group (is there a junior one?) and cut through the bureaucratic Gordian Knot?
Feris believes that UCT “needs to interrogate rules and procedures”, but fails to apply them when dealing with lawbreaking Fallists. When they violated the November 2016 Agreement and invaded the Mafeje Room, she chose to “appeal” to them in order to “keep pace with a changing student profile”.
Is the Pluriversity of Cape Town going to have fewer and better rules?
In short, why is Feris’ vision of a dynamic decolonization so placatingly populist?
Facing up to socio-economic challenges by ‘playing chicken
Feris complains that “black students, rural students, students from quintile 1, 2 and 3 schools” are lacking in “economic, social and cultural capital”. “Students are hungry and cannot afford accommodation” which has “a profound impact on their ability to function in a learning environment”. But, given the progressively lower support from government and highly unlikely elimination of fees (except perhaps for the poorest and brightest), let alone finding additional support for monthly living expenses, when will she or anyone else in the Executive admit the reality that the Executive’s strategy to fund many subsidy-earning students partially, and not fewer students comprehensively, generates their “profound inability to function”?
[For a particularly insightful commentary on the “Welfare University”, see Chapter 8 of Prof. Jonathan Jansen’s 2016 book: As by Fire: the end of the South African University.]
In Africa, this r-selection biological strategy is employed by its most widespread bird, the chicken-like Helmeted Guineafowl, which lays up to 20 eggs; but is rarely capable of rearing only than a handful of the chicks that emerge from them. In sharp contrast, Africa’s most widespread eagle, the Martial Eagle, employs K-selection; laying just one egg and investing enormously in the resulting chick which almost guarantees it survival. By the way, this bird of prey is also the Helmeted Guineafowl’s most feared predator.
Wouldn’t replacing UCT’s chicken-strategy for students with an eagle-one better “take into account the hardship of the daily grind of many of our students”. Indeed, to what extent might the “psychological problems” so prevalent amongst under-supported students be alleviated if their needs were met fully?
From an academic perspective, is it morally defensible to admit (and bureaucratically re-admit) thousands of educationally ‘disabled’ matriculants, many of whom fail to cope, despite academic ‘support’ and counselling? More than half of these kids with ‘great expectations’ never obtain a university degree and >80% take more than four years to do so, often ‘earning’ poor results and incurring massive debt? Why has UCT never published statistics indicating the career success of these ‘long-haul graduates’? Is this good educational practice? Does it liberate the oppressed masses, or just a few? Does it maintain excellence and produce leaders/innovators?
These ‘betrayed’ kids are fodder for radical Fallists bent on destroying UCT.
Why does Feris believe that the “university needs to constantly review our decision-making processes”? Why not become “fair” and “consistent” and choose an ‘eagle’ process that actually “takes into account social and economic context”, rather than focusing on the ‘chicken’ one that sucks in effectively doomed students in order to get government subsidies? Is it because it brings in the most money, some of which is used to pay huge salaries and bonuses to members of its Executive, other highly paid centralized admin officers and post costs for CHED Academic ‘Developers’ who would be better deployed, managed and nurtured in Core departments?
The ‘rich get rich and the poor get children. In the meantime, ain’t we got fun?
Why must “everyone flourish”, regardless of their background? Rich kids (regardless of how they self-identify) will always be better resourced, whether it be at UCT or anywhere else. The UCT Executive’s goal should be to ensure that poor kids coming from an education-disabling school system receive adequate comprehensive support so THEIR kids can “flourish” and acquire their own wealth.
Re-readmission Appeals Committees (RAC)
Feris views the Executive’s concession to Mafeje-Room Invading Fallists to implement automatic, bureaucratic, centralized re-evaluation of faculty-based RAC decisions as a “historical way of decision-making in a committee” that “corrected actions” [exclusions] initially “detrimental to students”. Perhaps she and other “senior leaders” should accept that their chicken-strategy to fund fewer students only partially is the root cause of their inability to cope at UCT. Using bureaucratic power to override carefully considered reviews by subject-specialist, faculty-based RA committees that studiously act in a fair, consistent and compassionate manner, helps no one, least of all struggling students and the academic/admin staff who undertake this painful task. The current members of the Science Faculty RAC resigned in protest. Who will replace them? If the Fallists shut down UCT again, who will fill the breach to make up for missed lectures?
What would a ‘pluriversity’ look like?
Feris says a pluriversity will allow room for “a range of epistemologies”. But, what and where are they? UCT launched its Centre for African Studies (CAS) more than 40 years ago. Why did it fail to produce or help to foster the development of students, staff and novel curricula necessary to expand this epistemological “range”? Why was the CAS disestablishment considered seriously in 2011? It’s been five years since the ‘new’ CAS was “re-launched” and it has only introduced undergraduate courses this year. Why take so long to produce so little? CAS director please reply.
What about the Centre for Higher Education Development’s (CHED) Academic Development Programme (ADP) (now with some 60 staff) that has been around since the 1980s? Does Feris support pouring more money into this programme that has “marginalized” ‘black’ students, never ‘filled the education gap’, let alone maintained excellence [something Feris never mentions]. CHED dean or Feris please reply.
What has the Black Academic Caucus been up to? The BAC was founded in 2012, with the purpose of “challenging the slow pace of transformation” and claiming to be “well-placed to recognise the obstacles to decolonisation within the institution and work towards overcoming them”. What are its “important gains” vis-à-vis adding to epistemological diversity and overcoming “obstacles [other than demanding blanket amnesty for lawbreaking Fallists]?
Then there is the Curriculum Change Working Group. What has it achieved in the two years since it added to UCT’s committee-diversity?
Nearly 20 years have passed since the “Mamdani Affair”. Two years ago, the Dean of Humanities convened a faculty- wide assemblyand asked for input from students vis-à-vis new transformed curricula. All he got were complaints that the UCT’s Academic Development Programme had “marginalized” them, and a suggestion to implement Mamdani’s unchanged, outdated one for “Problematizing Africa” from the 1990s.
The IRTC SC, which absorbs much of Feris’ time, seems to be more focused on granting amnesties to Fallists than “unpacking the limits of acceptable protest”. It hasn’t consulted and engaged with various ‘constituencies’ vis-a-vis restructuring curricula. Indeed, the Criteria it has identified for IRT Commissioners are conspicuously lacking in terms of capacity relating to curriculum development.
My own department, Biological Sciences, is nowhere near consensus on what to do with its curriculum in the face of falling student numbers and high failure rates. Progress to date suggests an intention to continue gearing it towards producing graduates who will pursue postgraduate study, rather than creating pathways for school biology teachers. This is especially worrying, given the Executive’s policy of “freezing posts and other budget cuts impacting on the university’s employment equity targets”. How many biology Ph.D. graduates find jobs and have productive careers?
How can UCT grads “have a career trajectory and a possibility for growth” under these circumstances, let alone aspire to excellence and become “retained role models”? Also, will the Executive’s New Strategy to bias recruitment in favour of South African ‘blacks’ (or any ‘group’ for that matter) and particular theories (e.g. Critical Theory) irrespective of merit maintain academic excellence? For example, the currently advertised new Mafeje Chair is restricted to South African ‘black’ critical theorists. This therefore bars eminent ‘decolonist’ Achille Mbembe because he was born in Cameroon and is ‘critical’ of Critical Theory. Indeed, my guess is that hyper-empiricist Archie Mafeje would also be one of its critics!
When does a demographic “African lens” become xenophobic ‘blinkers’ that undermine diversity and “extensive collaboration across Africa and the globe”?
Why should non-South African academics be treated a ‘visitors’ and not potential career colleagues? This is reminiscent of VC Beattie’s views on women and non-whites 90 years ago.
VC Price abandons subtlety Top of Form
16 July: In his piece: A subtle kind of racism, Price dropped all pretence of taking responsibility for his Executive’s roles in promoting Fallism and of honouring his commitment to “leave no one behind”.
Unacceptable becomes praiseworthy
Instead of continuing to obliquely condemn founding Fallist Chumani Maxwele’s outrageous faecal defacement of Rhodes’ statue as “unacceptable”, he praised it as “outraged protest”.
Instead of admitting:
1. recruiting more and more (subsidy-earning) educationally disabled first-year students than could be catered for by Core departments;
2. educationally “marginalizing” many of them by forcing into separate educational academic ‘development’ to fill the educational ‘gap’;
3. failing to invest in them sufficiently financially to allow them to focus on socio-academic matters;
4. requiring many of them and their families to find the ‘missing money’ necessary to survive temporarily, but ultimately fail to ‘earn’ a quality academic degree – only crippling accumulated debt; and
5. bureaucratically overriding academically sound decisions to exclude students with little hope of succeeding at UCT
Price took pride in ‘correcting imbalanced demographics’ and ascribed lawbreaking Fallist intimidation, assault and massive destruction to an unavoidable “tsunami” of ‘restoratively’ justifiable “angry protests and expressions of pain” by “many students – mostly black – who live with a sense of being outsiders who are just tolerated at UCT”.
Without actually providing evidence of this “justified anger” by ‘blacks’ (harboured by how many) and “intolerance” exhibited by ‘whites’(?), he simply assumes them and asks: “How did this happen?” Then he stated that “for decades [UCT] has been aspiring to nonracialism”.
UCT not non-racial
Well, I have been a part of UCT for more than four decades as a student, educator, researcher and administrator [to Price’s less-than-one as an administrator] and have studied its history going back to 1918 (still an unfinished 120-page document). I conclude that UCT was racist/sexist/colonialist institution during 1918-1947. Thereafter, it consistently preached (1948-1978), promoted (1979-1989) and then practiced (1990-2013) non-racialism. Colonialism (except perhaps in some departments within the Humanities) waned from day one and effectively disappeared after World War II. Sexism started waning after WWII and has been dealt with aggressively since the early 1970s.
Sadly, beginning in 2012-13 [when Mandela and fellow ardent non-racialist Neville Alexander died]; a non-racial student admissions policy was attacked and undermined by ‘angry’ pre-Fallists employing racially based ad hominem attacks on UCT and its staff/structures. It morphed into a community dominated by a ‘black’ nationalist/nativist/sexist/racist minority that effectively wrested power from the Executive/Council/Senate/SRC/Convocation by May-June 2015.
In short, Price confirmed that UCT was, is and will continue to be institutionally racist until something is done about it. His and the Fallists’ problem is that the ‘new’ racists, sexists and neo-colonist-Afrocentrists are ‘black’ nationalists.
Since an institution can’t “be” a “thing”, this means that there are practicing racists on campus.
But, Price curiously concludes: “I don’t think so – although, no doubt, some of that [racism] exists.”
This provides new meaning to the term equivocation.
If he is correct about the “some”, who are the perpetrators and what has his administration done to expose and deal with them?
Price remains silent on this. Perhaps he should chat to his three predecessors (Saunders, Ramphele and Ndebele) or at least read their works before he makes sweeping conclusions that could influence UCT’s future, even its existence?
Nevertheless, according to Price the “real, and much deeper, problem” is “a multiplicity of institutional practices, which are not motivated by malice or prejudice”, but “indicate an indifference to the values and beliefs that black communities hold dear” because they do not conform to the “entrenched culture of our institution”.
What are these “practices of indifference” and “entrenched culture”?
Price’s answer: Institutional racism.
Price elaborates on this by referring to the tenets and actions of Afro-American intellectual and pioneer advocate of Black Power, Stokely Carmichael.
After taking control of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Carmichael:
1. refused to allow ‘whites’ to become members and supported the expulsion of existing ones, describing integration as a "thalidomide drug”;
2. explicitly rejected Dr Martin Luther King’s doctrine of non-violence;
3. and promoted mass racial tumult, epitomised by the Watts Riots.
Indeed, from then on, he answered the telephone, no with “hello”, but with: "Ready for the revolution!"
To achieve his new aims, Carmichael broke with the non-violent SNCC, whose new leaders had begun to refer to him as "Stokely Starmichael". Soon thereafter, he became “prime minister” of the much more radically revolutionary, gun-carrying Black Panthers. BP members were often required by their leaders to carry and read Mao Zedong's The Little Red Book. BP leaders promoted the writings and works of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung; and one of their characteristic chants was: "The Revolution has come, it's time to pick up the gun. Off [kill] the pigs [police]!"
In 1969, Carmichael quit the Black Panthers after being criticized from within. He left the USA and established permanent residence in Guinea, dedicating the remainder of his life to the promotion of pan-Africanism. On his deathbed, claimed that his prostate cancer "was given to me by forces of American imperialism and others who conspired with them."
In his posthumously published memoirs, although he maintained that was not anti-Semitic, Carmichael proclaimed: "I have never admired a white man, but the greatest of them, to my mind, was Hitler." whom he described as a “genius”. His views on women in the civil rights movement were also questionable: “the position of women in the movement is prone”. Western civilization fared even worse: "When you talk of black power, you talk of building a movement that will smash everything Western civilization has created.''
Carmichael defined "institutional racism" as "the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their color, culture or ethnic origin."
Price departs from Carmichael characterizing institutional racism differently as: “more subtle than individual racism and much more obvious to those on the receiving end than it is to those responsible for perpetuating it”.
Either way, its “collective” and “subtle” nature, makes institutional racism very difficult to discover yet alone to expose and punish its perpetrators.
So, where does UCT’s ongoing institutional racism come from? He says that it “has developed over two centuries a culture that reflects the values, aesthetics and norms of white English-speaking South Africa” and “is so entrenched and normalised that those of us who are part of it see it as the natural way of the world”.
Price would be correct in this assessment if he stopped reading UCT’s history with Howard Phillips’ The University of Cape Town: 1918-1948 – the formative years and neglected the writings of his predecessors T.B. Davie, Stuart Saunders, Mamphela Ramphele and Njabulo Ndebele‘Kit’ Vaughan’s biographical/historical account. On the Shoulders of Oldenburg: a Biography of the Academic Rating System in South Africa; Lungisile Ntsebeza’s What can we learn from Archie Mafeje about the Road to Democracy in South Africa? and Thandabantu Nhlapo and Harry Garuba’s . Celebrating Africa at UCT: African studies in the post-colonial university.
As current evidence of institutional racism, he points to the university’s art collection and body of photographic work which are “beyond any doubt” “intended to reveal the callousness of apartheid”. But, he takes the Fallists position that these artworks portray “them” [‘whites’] as “powerful, privileged overlords”. Without actually polling ‘black’ students/staff/alumni, he asserts: “if you are a black student born well after 1994 what you see is a parade of black people stripped of their dignity and whites exuding wealth and success”. He then concludes: “Even if you know the historic context of the photos, a powerful contemporary context may overwhelm this, leading you to conclude that the photos are just one more indication of how this university views black and white people”.
He specifically mentions the controversial naked sculpture of the Khoikhoi woman, Sarah Baartman by a ‘coloured’ artist that was displayed in the UCT Library and says: “You [who] might feel that this sculpture prolongs her humiliation”.
But, rather than instructing those familiar with the “real” history behind these artworks (e.g. the artists concerned and eminent scholars at UCT and elsewhere) and use UCT’s massive Communication and Marketing Department to correct this fallacy, he chooses to adopt the minority Fallist ”powerful contemporary context”.
How does this ‘strategy’ achieve anything other than promoting racially derived ignorance and tension and empowering radical Fallists who would destroy UCT?
Language is to die for and South African schools fail to ‘educate’
Then Price claims that the historical reality of English being the medium of teaching at UCT “further entrenches the dominant culture of UCT and deepens racial stereotypes”.
First, he once again ignores history. In June 1976, many South African school students died because they demanded to be taught in English. His UCT-sourced ‘evidence’ on this score is an account of a “young black student from the North West”. “She grew up not knowing anyone who spoke English as a first language and had never shared a meal or a classroom with a white person. She came top of her class at school, and entered university a confident student.”
All of this can be true. But, regardless of her home and first language, she should have acquired an adequate mastery of English at school. She also applied to UCT, knowing that it is an English-medium university, and no one has provided a viable strategy to develop a multi-lingual UCT. With regard to her having “top” marks, one needs to put them into context given the dysfunctional state of South African schools – with those in the North West faring amongst the worst. Also, there have been kids with nine “A’s” denied admission to UCT. With regard to her “confidence”, even English-speaking students from top schools find their first year at university an academic ‘shock’. I graduated at the top of my class at a good school in Boston, USA, only to struggle terribly during my first year at a second-tier university.
Despite all this, her treatment in class was reprehensible. The kids might be forgiven for laughing at her embarrassment because they were just being kids rather than racists. But, the lecturer should have known better and disciplined the misbehaving students and insisted an after-class meeting to assuage her misgivings. This is why there is a sore need for educator education at UCT; something that Price, ‘black’ students and staff could have implemented during the first term at his ‘Afropolitan’ UCT. Also, the educator’s failure could have been a sad consequence of a lecturer who simply cannot cope with large numbers of educationally disabled students, regardless of their ‘great expectations’.
Price goes on to assert that “white students tend to have free and easy relationships with white lecturers and professors”, socializing with UCT academics “at Sunday lunches” in their homes. In my 40+ years at UCT, I cannot recall one such racially such restricted soiree. They are a ‘pigment’ of Price’s and Fallists’ imagination. Of course, racially restrictive academics belonging to the Black Academic Caucus may be holding their own parties and exclude ‘whites’. Finally, the kids and academics can readily associate, regardless of self-identification, in the fully inclusive “Laboratory”, the magnificent pub in the staff/student/alumni UCT Club I helped to build (with teak from a remodelled Botany lecture theatre and ‘populated’ by a Giant African Forest Hog from the Central African Republic) when I was Club chairperson! But, that’s the last thing that radical Fallists would encourage.
With regard to “unequal relationships”, what about those involving the now formally recognized Black Academic Caucus and Black Alumni Association, which, by their very existence, are “systems discriminatory and racialist to [their] institutional core[s]”.
Price says: “I could provide countless examples of students who are black or female not being taken as seriously as their white or male colleagues”.
Please do so and expose, admonish and, if necessary punish the perpetrators.
He asks: “Who gets attention when speaking in a meeting?”
My answer: Price, Registrar Pillay and Convocation President Barney Pityana were present at the December 2016 AGM of the UCT Convocation when Ms Gwen Ngwenya (former UCT SRC President and current COO of the South African Institute of Race Relations) and I were heckled by many illegally invading destructive Fallists and prevented from outlining a motion requesting alumni be consulted vis-à-vis Price’s choice to negotiate with lawbreaking protesters. Hecklers included Chumani Maxwele (who was violating conditional amnesty according to the November 6 Agreement). I was branded variously: “racist”, “Jim Crow”, “apartheid activist” and “killer of black people”. When a woman academic, Dr Cathleen Powell (Department of Public Law), tried to tell her story of the negative consequences of Fallist protests, she was mocked openly, with mimed clown-tears and cat-calling: “Shut up bitch.” At the follow-up Convocation AGM in February 2017, Fallist Simon Rakei (Shackville student representative at the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission Steering Committee) was invited to speak by Price et al., despite objections from Convocation members. During his ‘presentation’, he thrice referred to me as “Jim Crow”.
None of the abovementioned UCT leaders said or did anything to intervene, let alone stop this defamation/hate speech.
On 5 March 2017, I wrote to them, requesting that they investigate these matters. Two days later, I received a reply from Ms Amanda Botha, one of Price’s administrative officers: “Kindly be informed that your e-mail is receiving attention and that a response will follow.”
More than six months has passed without a “response”.
For readers, here are some Fallist Rakei’s quotes:
On decolonization : “It calls for the end of world as we know it, in its place something new. To do that, power, as it were, or in its current forms and understandings, must be in the hands of the oppressed to fashion out their own destiny” … “in terms of African value systems, knowledge and identity”.
“Quite simply the logical conclusion of decolonisation is to say we demand everything. We do not want the world as it is and instead want for a new imagining of the world, which I agree with, but we need to have it first and [then?] decide what to do with it”.
“universities [are] factories which churn out skilled labour for white capital and top firms who give little interest to the communities they operate in”
“our time is simply a continuation of oppression under a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy structure”
“I find the ideological commitment to decolonial politics and the idea of imagining other forms of political expression far more valuable than participating in the current electoral system. There’s nothing strategic about young people as a social group investing their social and political currency in partisan parties and a - which has defunct systems.” (Cape Times 4 August 2016 p. 3)
“Who is successful when dealing with [UCT’s] bureaucracy?”
My and other members of UCT’s “Silenced Majority’ answer: “Fallists.”
Price concludes: “When UCT removed the statute of Rhodes this was not a one-off concession to the pressure of student anger. The university made a significant declaration that we wanted to make a decisive break with the colonialist past and we are well aware that this demands that we tackle the elusive but extremely powerful creature of institutional racism.
Questions: Who is we? How can institutional racism be a “creature”, given its “collective” and “subtle” nature?
Lecturing a way towards decolonization
‘Decolonization’ at the University of Cape Town (UCT): What is it? How should it be achieved?
After two widely advertised and packed lectures, the simple answer to both questions is: no one knows?
14 August: – Prof. Vivek Chibber’s Vice-Chancellor’s Open Lecture: Eurocentrism, the academy and social emancipation was highly anticipated (at least by anti-Fallists) because of its pre-lecture announcement:“While the commitment to wrest free of Eurocentric biases and even to decolonise higher education is entirely laudable, it leaves open the question of what the content of new knowledge ought to be, and also the structure of new institutions. In this lecture, I suggest that the only way to press forward with these goals, while still upholding democratic principles, is by embedding the critique of Eurocentrism in an egalitarian and humanistic framework. This means rejecting parochialism of any kind, including the nativism that is often presented as a counter to Eurocentrism. Indeed, nativist critiques often recreate the Eurocentrism they seek to displace.”For anti-colonial movements to win the full human emancipation they fought for, they need to rid themselves of the critiques embedded in nativism and nationalism”.
But, during his lecture, like a faithful Marxist, he actually:
1. equated the African struggle for liberation from colonialism with that between capitalism and socialism and between Eurocentrism and racism rather than Afro-relevance/centrism;
2. erroneously characterized Europe as the continued centre of morality and science, with Africa being at the periphery and inferior;
3. advocated the replacement of race by class, producing an ”indigenous elite”; and
4. predicted that, without such a replacement, “nativism [racial and nationalist discourse that can creep back into leftist thinking] will return.During question-time, when asked: “When does a black leader become free of Western influence”. Chibber replied only when he/she advocates the ‘Best Western’ ‘good ideas’, e.g. socialism/communism. When challenged by a ‘black’ attendee: “But white Marxism and Communism have had terrible consequences in this country.” he countered: “Come up with any strategy that will involve the upliftment of the vast majority of black and brown people in this country that does not involve attacking capitalism.” “There’s no solution to the problem without class.” There must be a “massive redistribution of resources” [from whom to whom?].
When asked about his views on the classic, discipline/faculty-gated, colonial university populated by traditional, scholarly “universal”, ivory-tower intellectuals versus what decolonist philosopher Achille Mbembe and UCT Transformation DVC Loretta Feris describe as a discipline-unbounded “pluriversity” populated by Gramscian “public intellectuals” engaged with society and focused on context, Chibber claimed not to understand the concept of a pluriversity [advocated by Transformation DVC Feris]. He eschewed the Marxist Gramsci’s concept of public/organic intellectuals, preferring what he terms “committed intellectuals”, ‘academics’ who might be hired as academic staff, but “spend all their time in trade unions”.
With regard to his views on student demographics, he commented (to loud applause): “What we should worry about is accessibility of poor people to university.” He offered no suggestions on how to help them to develop once they were admitted.
On a constructive note, he stressed the need to develop in-house, competitive, African-rooted intelligentsia who publish in local-language journals, and warned that academic posts should not become “islands of privilege” protected by the tenure system.
In short, social emancipation can only be achieved when an already heavily taxed, partially market-driven economy is totally taken over by a communistic government and wealth is “massively redistributed’. Then, somehow, funds will be found to eliminate university fees and pay multi-lingual, primarily locally published, decolonized, elite academics to develop trade unions when they’re not teaching badly-educated, poverty-stricken students who study socio-physics.
Is this a meaningful ‘strategy’ for UCT’s decolonization and emancipation?
22 August: Columbia/ Makerere University Prof. Mahmood Mamdani, one of the world’s top 10 public intellectuals and arguably the leading authority on African colonial/post‐colonial international politics gave the 2017 T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture“Decolonising the Post-Colonial University”.The Lecture was disrupted for +- 30 minutes by a group of protesters who allege that the Executive has acted callously and in bad faith to the UCT Community by accepting inordinately high salaries and performance bonuses and imposing intolerable working conditions on recently insourced workers.
According to VC Max Price’s pre-lecture comments, Mamdani would: “frame academic freedom and university autonomy through the decolonial lens” and “in the current context”.
His carefully crafted lecture actually achieved neither.
But, before I explain why: What is academic freedom and why the T.B. Davie Lecture?
In 1950, VC Davie ‘nailed’ UCT’s long-standing academic vision to the ‘mast’.
Universities should be populated by “those fitted by ability and training for higher education” … “aiming at the advancement of knowledge by the methods of study and research founded on absolute intellectual integrity and pursued in an atmosphere of academic freedom”. This should allow “real” universities the autonomy to decide:
1. “who shall teach – determined by fitness and scholarship and experience;
2. what we teach – the truth and not what it is demanded by others for the purposes of sectional, political, religious or ideological dogmas or beliefs;
3. how we teach – not subject to interference aimed at standardization at the expense of originality; and [most importantly]
4. whom we teach – [individuals] intellectually capable and morally worthy to join the great brotherhood which constitutes the wholeness of the university”.
All fine, except the still-patriarchal-principal missed out on ‘sister’ and ‘other-self-identified-hoods’.
But he was not done. The university community should:
1.“reflect the multi-racial picture of the society it serves;
2. give a lead to the cultural and spiritual development of the different race groups as part of the developments of the community as a whole;
3. aid the state by providing training for and maintaining standards in the learned professions and public services;
4. and serve the community in the true sense of the university, i.e. as a centre for the preservation, the advance, and the dissemination of learning for its own sake and without regard to its usefulness, to all who are academically qualified for admission, irrespective of race, colour, or creed.”
I would drop the use of “race” or replace it with ‘non-racial”.
I don’t see why UCT has abandoned this vision. Indeed, the annual T.B. Davie Memorial Lecture on academic freedom was established by UCT students to commemorate the memory of Davie’s principles underpinning academic freedom.
UCT’s vision today is brief, much ‘inclusified’ and contextualized, and has geographical/national/ social foci:
“UCT is an inclusive and engaged research-intensive African university that inspires creativity through outstanding achievements in learning, discovery and citizenship; enhancing the lives of its students and staff, advancing a more equitable and sustainable social order and influencing the global higher education landscape.”
VC Price’s pre-lecture introductory comments gave Davie’s ‘principled-principal’ stance short shrift, opening it to ‘reinterpretation’.
He said that, today, beyond “academic merit”, Academic Freedom “may also entail other [unspecified] criteria”. It is a “live issue not frozen in 1950s” that needs to be “reinvestigated, reinterpreted, reunderstood (sic) and reapplied“ in the light of “other [unspecified] issues” and a changing ‘institutional culture” facilitated by “fierce and robust discussions” [about what? and why not through unfettered rational debate?].
To my mind, this is a Marxist (Groucho not Karl) position: “If you don’t like my principles, I have others.”
When Price discussed the Mamdani Affair, he was heckled, requesting: ”please let me speak” “please respect our rights to speak”. He condemned past UCT Executives’ actions, saying: “The use of administrative fiat to stifle intellectual debate has no place in a university setting” “all viewpoints should be allowed to contend freely.”
This is surprising, since his Executive cancelled (with short notice and over strong objections from the Academic Freedom Committee and many staff/students/alumni) the 2016 Davie Lecture. Price ‘acted’ because the invited speaker (journalist Flemming Rose) was anonymously and salaciously defamed as “bigot/blasphemer”, and Price “feared” that allowing him to speak would cause unspecified “violent protest” [by whom].
Furthermore, “over the past two years [at UCT], both commemorative and fine art has been defaced, intentionally destroyed by fire, blacklisted, censored, covered up and removed from display. Additionally, photographic exhibitions have been attacked and closed down, and the Michaelis School of Fine Art was occupied by protestors for a number of weeks towards the end of 2016 and its students and teachers threatened.”
Mamdani’s ‘Big Bang Theories’
In her comments on Mamdani, event chairperson Prof. Elelwani Raymundo showed her ‘colours’ by quoting Mamdani’s characterization of the Ramphele Executive as an “administration [that] paid lip-service to academic transformation” and resisted “any innovative idea as a threat to its power”.
Mamdani started his lecture with two ‘bangs’. First, he answered, to great applause, the question: “Why did you decide to come” [back to UCT after so many years]? with: “Because Rhodes fell.”
Then he mentioned that UCT academics had asked him, in the spirit of Academic Freedom, to refuse to give the Davie Lecture, “unless Rose Flemming (sic) was re-invited to speak”. These include philosopher David Benatar, a member of the pro-Rose Academic Freedom Committee. But, (to keep the audience on its toes?) Mamdani deferred his reply to ‘question time’.
Then, contrary to the advertised – decolonization “in the current context” - his lecture was based largely on the “historical context that shaped the post-colonial university”. He mentioned, inter alia:
1. Eurocentric theory ‘born of comparison” and “matured to its fullest during the colonial period”;
2. the production of knowledge begins with the organization of phenomena; and
3. comparison requires a standard, potentially highly subjective evaluative reference point.
In African universities, that “reference point” was/is ‘colonial-centric’. Whatever African alternative(s) that existed and/or were offered have been ignored/dismissed because they were not encoded in “texts”. The modern African university is based on a German, “discipline-based gated community” model, requiring “clearly defined administrators, academics and fee-paying students” pursuing 19th Century ideas from the Era of Enlightenment.
If he read the UCT NEWS, he might have a different perspective of what’s actually going on at UCT.
In short, African universities are “in the frontline” of a “one-size-fits-all” “top-down, modernistic project” that assumes a Eurocentric “oneness of humanity” seeking to “civilize the world in its own image” through “conquest”. Currently, this conquest is “emphasized by IMF/World Bank “structural adjustment programmes”.
The Colonial University’s “ambition[s] [are] to create universal scholars”, “stand for excellence, regardless of context” and form the “vanguard of the civilising mission without reservation or remorse”.
I have no problem with the first two and dispute the third, pretty scary, one.
Then Mamdani gave his first recommendation: ‘If you regard yourself as prisoners in this ongoing colonizing project, then your task must be to subvert that process from within.” He also ‘defined’ decolonization: “sift through historical legacy and contemporary reality discarding some parts and adapting others to a newfound purpose”. This requires “nationalist public intellectuals” whose “hallmark is [to] place specific contextual relevance above excellence”.
First, the first part of his ‘recommendation” is literally inflammatory and will be used by the Fallists when it suits them to ‘socially justify’ the next bout of lawbreaking. Second, I completely agree with his definition of decolonization. Third, I vigorously oppose replacing formally educated scholars with organic/public/committed intellectuals in the Gramsci, Chibber or Mamdani sense.
Then Mamdani discussed long-passed ‘decolonization’ strategies at the African Universities of Makerere (paradigmatically colonial) and Dar es Salaam (anti-colonial nationalist and “home of the committed public intellectual”), with the latter “embedded in space-time context” and “deeply engaged in with the wider society”. The key ‘gunslingers’ in this showdown were universal scholar Prof. Ali Mazrui (Makerere) and Mamdani’s ‘hero’, public intellectual Prof. Walter Rodney (Dar).
Makerere ranks in the top 500 universities worldwide, and fourth in Africa [highest outside of South Africa]. Because of student unrest and faculty disenchantment, the university was closed three times between 2006 and 2016. ‘Dar’ is 3021st worldwide (out of 3290 ranked institutions) and 57th in Africa.
UCT is number 171 worldwide (but falling) and 1 or 2 in Africa. It closes at the whim of Fallists when they make it ungovernable.
Stellenbosch University is catching up rapidly in ranking and has never been shut down.
Then Mamdani ‘put the brakes on’, counselling: “resist the temptation to dismiss one or the other” strategy and “bring the two together since each has value”. The ‘Dar Strategy’ emphasizes “place, politics and power relations” and “continuous curriculum review” within a disciplinarily-unbounded institution. The ‘Makerere Strategy’ is international in scope; is disciplinary synergistic; and pursues ‘universal truth’, facilitated by employing unfettered “ideas”, even in the face of overwhelming power. Indeed, without ideas, “Why have a university at all?”
I favour the Makerere Strategy. But, maybe there is room at UCT for BOTH decolonization strategies.
But then Mamdani put the nativism-decolonization pedal-to-the-metal again and stated that this duel strategy cannot be achieved without a revival of “an African mode of reasoning based on traditional communication and intellectual history” – a “new system with multiple reference points”. [This fits in with Feris’ vision.] A key missing factor in this quest requires serious input from indigenous African languages, suppressed alike by paleo-/neo-colonialists.
Then came Mamdani’s second “recommendation”.
Decolonization must be a multi-linguistic project!
So, in addition to the “non-negotiable” Fees-must-fall demands, UCT must develop new Sotho and Nguni “language centres”, and that these languages should feature strongly in mode-of-instruction, buttressed by massive translation programmes. This will allow 21st Century African students to “get to know neighbours” and “theorize [their] own reality”.
Otherwise, “a UCT student will [continue to] be a technician trained to apply theories developed elsewhere”.
First, this is a second potential call to arms for the Fallists.
Second, I can guarantee that [if self-surveyed or assessed by subject specialists locally and internationally], UCT students will not self-identify as technicians or be categorized as such by those competent to do so. That’s why so many UCT graduates compete successfully for top posts.
But, then the brakes came on again when Mamdani wisely stated that the locally-focused, politically sensitive, public intellectual and unfettered, global-viewing, discipline-based, ideologically unconstrained universal scholar are “not different persona”, but “two sides of a single quest for knowledge balance”. “Let’s close the gap between them!”
He closed with a final swipe at the Ramphele Executive and offered “a personal reflection” to Price.
“I came in 1996, full of excitement, wanting to learn and make a contribution to a new world. Instead, I found a world unsure of itself, full of anxiety. The leadership of government had changed. But the leadership of institutions had not. Instead of being receptive to change, the institutional leadership looked with distrust to every initiative for change suspecting it of harbouring a hidden subversive agenda.”
Many of the ‘other’ people involved in the ‘Mamdani Affair’, perhaps including VC Ramphele, can refute him, but probably won’t try.
To Price: Don’t obsess on how much money creating this ‘New Reality’ will cost or wonder where the Sotho/Nguni-speaking academics are going to come from. “This is not the time to think like an accountant.”
My predictions are as follows:
1. True to form, Price will shout to one and all: “Show me the money”.
2. When it doesn’t come, there will be no ‘decolonization’ other than retrenchments and academic ‘cleansing’.
3. More top academics (especially young ones who move elsewhere) will take severance packages or be retrenched to ‘save’ money.
4. Price will continue to pander to Fallists and ignore UCT’s “entrenched”, “culturally blind”, “Silenced Majority” who just want to learn and conduct research in “safe places”.
5. When the demand for Free-Fees fails [rightly focusing on helping the financially most strapped]; lawbreaking Fallists are not granted more amnesties and unconditional academic readmission; and the IRTC process is impeded because no one can agree on what’s punishable “unacceptable protest” [let alone “Mamdani-sifting” decolonization], “imprisoned” Fallists will follow Mamdani’s advice and “subvert that process from within.”
In short, “burn baby burn”.
For more critical views on Mamdani, read Mahmood Mamdani and the Academic Freedom Lecture: Public Intellectualism Gone Wrong on my Blog Site – timguineacrowe.blogspot.co.ZA
23 August: Cape Town Chapter of the Alumni Association meet to discuss TRANSFORMATION AT UCT - WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Free Education Planning Group (Thabang Bhili): little/no progress with Free Fess. The key problem is only partial financial support which dooms many students to failure.
Mental Health Group (Thembelihle Ncayiyana): situation horrible and deteriorating despite some help from management. Students desperately trying to fill breach themselves.
Curriculum Working Group (Seipati Tshabalala): did not attend
Works of Art Committee (Jay Pather): reiterated Artwork Task Team status report referred to above.
TC: All I can say as an attendee of this event is that my heart goes out to students, artists and UCT art academics who feel betrayed and abandoned and I won’t hold my breath anticipating a novel, coherent and constructive student/Fallist-sourced decolonized solution.
15 September: An article in the Daily Maverick confirms that Ramabina Mahapa, SRC president and a founding member of RMF, admitted that there “was a close relationship between the movement and the Independent [newspaper] Group”. “I would say that there was an element of [the Cape Times newspaper] wanting stories that would humiliate the University, one of the movement’s tactics was to create as much negative publicity for the university so that they would act.”
TC: So much for Price’s claim that Fallism is a spontaneous, uncoordinated “tsunami”.
19 September: Transformation Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Loretta Feris and the Curriculum Change Working Group invite Professor Chandra Raju, vice-president of the Indian Social Science Academy, to speak on decolonizing the science curriculum
Raju, a mathematician and computer scientist, believes that the traditional, ‘Western’ science based on the perspective that science is objective and universal has little relevance in a post-colonial world.
UCT’s Dr Henri Laurie and Prof. Bernhard Weiss and US’s Prof. Lesley le Grange were also invited to present their perspectives on Raju’s beliefs. Laurie is an appliedmathematics to sharpen debates in plant ecology. During his many years as an educator, he has emphasised the meaning of mathematical statements to cultivate enthusiasm for mathematics as a useful activity. Weiss is a specialist philosopher of mathematics. Le Grange is a Distinguished Professor of Education and has more than two decades of experience in higher education. He is currently Vice-President of the International Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (IAACS); has an excellent understanding of higher education systems, particularly the South African higher education system; and has done work for the Council on Higher Education (CHE) in South Africa for more than a decade.
Here is my summary of Raju’s views based on my notes, the incomplete released video and some extended quotes from his writings.
Raju rejects the “myth” that Western math is universal. Its “superiority” over other ways of doing math rests merely on some anti-scientific church dogmas born of hate politics. His preferred “other way” of maths is the religiously-neutral Indian ganita (together with the explicit philosophy of zeroism). Further, most math taught in schools today (arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, probability) historically originated as ganita, but was ‘perverted’ by Greeks and other Western Europeans who ‘inherited’ it. Selecting ganita over formal math preserves practical value, while eliminating the false history and bad metaphysics. Indeed, practical value is enhanced: e.g., by eliminating Newton’s conceptual confusion about calculus and Einstein’s inferior theory of gravity.
Attributing the origins of “real” geometry to an unknown early Greek called Euclid was not only the stock church method of falsifying history, it helped to impose this theologically-correct reinterpretation.
The imported ganita was wrapped in a false history (e.g. that Newton and Leibniz discovered/ invented the calculus) to deny its non-Christian origins—a denial powerfully motivated by the Inquisition.
Contrary to the text book assertion that computer calculations are all erroneous compared to the “perfect” mathematics of formal reals, realistic “zeroism” rejects the idealistic claims of formalism as erroneous and a delusion.
Newtonian gravity is perhaps the most ironic example of how the Western metaphysics of math hindered science. Newtonian physics failed because Newton, as the “second inventor” of the calculus, did not even understand it (both charges which he correctly made against Leibniz). Intensely religious, he thought mathematics was the “perfect” language in which God had written the eternal laws of nature (revealed to him). Hence, he tried to make calculus “perfect” by making time metaphysical.
The conclusion is that Western metaphysical prejudices about math, which were a veneer added on to an imported ganita, are NOT needed for its practical applications to science. On the contrary, their metaphysics actually hindered the development of science, and led to blind alleys. Hence, it must be discarded, and we must abandon formalism. What is needed for science is to accept ganita (and zeroism), and its method of calculation.
Perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of such a move (to accept ganita and abandon formal math) will be school children. The statement that 2+2=4 admits of a simple understanding in natural language (which implicitly employs zeroism), where the abstraction “2” is understood ostensively by empirical referrants, exactly like the abstraction “dog”. However, formalism turns “2” into a very difficult abstraction, disjoint from experience, and involving set theory. Since axiomatic set theory is too difficult to teach to children, they are today taught set theory without defining a set! Naturally, many students reject the lack of clarity in such “teachings”. Hence, most abandon math before reaching calculus. They wrongly blame themselves or their teachers, when what is at fault is the subject of formal math, with all its useless metaphysics.
Teaching school math the way it actually originated in the non-West makes math easy, as has been demonstrated by Raju’s pedagogical experiments, particularly the 5-day course on calculus, which enables students to solve problems too hard to be solved by those equipped by a course in university calculus.
Teaching ganita the way it historically developed in the non-West, minus the veneer of confused metaphysics it acquired in the West, also has the advantage that it makes math easy and intuitive, and leads to a better understanding. Hence, we must henceforth adopt ganita (together with zeroism) and reject formal math.
Finally, he rejects the colonial myth that to validate knowledge it is necessary to obtain the prior approval of Western authorities, who will judge it in secret (secretive “peer” review. Secretive review was a church technique to preserve myths by using pre-censorship to prevent the public articulation of dissent. This means: “Don’t submit your research to respected scientific journals and anonymous peer-reviewers! Fight things out through oral debate.”
TC: Since March 2015, we know what that means at UCT.
In short, ‘current’ “formal” mathematics is derived, inferior and perverted ganita. It should be abandoned and replaced by the easy-to-learn ‘kosher’ ganita. This is music to the ears of radical Fallists.
Since the ‘official’ video of the event https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckbzKfRIi6Q fails to cover the panellists’ comments and questions from the audience and comments on it are disabled, this event could be interpreted as an attempt to validate Raju’s views [which would make radical decolonists ecstatic] and censor those of ‘others’, especially UCT’s mathematicians and physicists.
The ‘evidence’ I’ve been able to garner since the event is as follows.
A UCT mathematics lecturer standing (the room was packed) next to me left in a huff five minutes into Raju’s presentation commenting: “snake oil salesman”.
One of the world’s foremost mathematical scientists wrote to me: “He's a crank and rejects the views of qualified people.”
A non-mathematician senior admin employee wrote: “These [Raju’s] claims seem hardly credible—it appears that the University has suspended all incredulity. That such a charlatan is welcomed to UCT by a Deputy Vice-Chancellor while Flemming Rose is shunned does us no credit.”
A UCT physicist specializing in CHED-like academic-support education wrote: “He must be either really smart or a fraud or deranged. It’s not clear to me whether we need to stop using our GPSs and gravitational wave detectors while we wait for the revolution to happen.”
I have forwarded this segment of the manuscript to the Heads of the Departments of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics, the DVC for Transformation and the Executive Director of the Communication and Marketing Department to elicit formal and more authoritative comment and the release of the ‘missing’ part of the event video.
Gerda Kruger informed me on 26 September the “missing bits” will be released as a new video.
20 September: DVC for transformation Loretta Feris speaks to the Faculty of Health Sciences
“We are not making the link between admissions and student success”. This has created “a major gap” that requires “conversations, especially at a faculty level” to deal with “students’ financial and socio-psychological support, as well as the socio-psychological ramifications of financial inability to study”.
TC: But, she outlines no plans to depart from the Executive’s ‘chicken’ strategy that provides inadequate support to the many, rather than ‘eagle’ support for a manageable few.
“I think we are beginning to understand the fundamental link between curriculum and what informs the curriculum … and how we tie it to student success.” This requires a still largely unformulated, superior, “decolonised curriculum” that deals critically with “the colonial past”.
TC: Does this mean “ganita” mathematics?
'Who teaches, matters.'
This process depends “profoundly” on “employment equity” and “a staff cohort that is reflective of South Africa” and emphasizes “excellence”. This requires “opening up spaces for honours students to work toward their master’s and their PhD before walking into UCT’s classrooms as lecturers”. This is a “pipeline” task to be ”taken up at a faculty and departmental level”.
TC: Bravo! That’s what should have happened in the 1990s and was implemented only briefly during the Ramphele Era.
Based on her experience as “a lecturer for many years”, Feris is particularly sensitive to “profound feelings of alienation that many black people [especially new staff members] talk about at UCT”, “given the work it needs to do in the realm of employment equity”. This presents “challenges to [senior] black staff to think of ways to support each other”. Established black academics also need to support, mentor and nurture “young, newly appointed black staff” to help cope with UCT’s “somewhat controversial admissions policy” aimed at making it “feel like a South African university”. This is because “when your profile changes, your institutional culture changes”.
But, there is “work still needing to be done”.
TC: Let’s see how much is done by senior members of Core departments, especially members of the Black Academic Caucus.
TC: As I write, the UCT Executive, Senior ‘Leadership’ Group, Council, Senate, Academics ‘Union’, Student ‘Representative’ Council, ‘Convocation’, Alumni ‘Association’, NEHAWU and other unions are now pliant, subservient or allied to Fallists. [Hence my liberal use of single quotes.] The vast “Silenced Majority” comprising junior academic and support staff, students and parents/alumni/donors who support adaptive transformation, rational debate and peaceful protest is largely apathetic or lethargic. When these ‘core’ people are ‘consulted’, their anti-Fallist views are ignored, dismissed or quashed. Stalwarts in Senate who could stand up to the Executive and Fallists have assumed a laager mentality and:
1. “object strategically” only when their individual interests are impacted;
2. attempt to “see things through” to retirement; or
3. hope to “weather the storm” created by Price-led Executive and the Fallists.
If they’re lucky, young, bright, sub-dominant, mobile academics may find jobs where they can work unfettered by ‘race’-based ideology in peace [or at least relative non-violence].
But, not at today’s UCT.
Fallists or pro-Fallists are allowed to form racialized bodies, e.g. the BAC. They no longer need to invade meetings to which they have no statutory access. The Executive invites them to attend and ‘participate’. When denied access or their latest demands are not met, they spew profanity, defamation and hate speech, invade halls/offices/lecture theatres, and threaten “consequences” or actually implement “shut downs” - most often close to exam time - culminating in destruction of valuable property necessary for UCT to function.
Fallists blanketly use unsubstantiated alleged:
1. persistent ‘historical trauma’ which is passed down trans- and inter-generationally;
2. “internalised ‘white’ superiority”, “other exclusionary practices”, “nuanced, masked, invisible, cumulative and institutional racism”;
3. “also-invisible and linked cultural, symbolic, structural, epistemological and psychological violence”
to “socially justify” and “legitimize” the “triggering” of their continued intimidations, invasions and verbal/physical assaults (lumped as “counter-violence), culminating in burning artworks, bakkies, books and buildings.
When constitutionally appointed judges find Fallists guilty of breaking laws, they claim to have been “pathologized or criminalized” and deprive of their “social lives”. They demand amnesty based on the “spirit” of “expansive indigenous, religious, restorative justice”.
With regard to UCT’s ‘leadership’, Illegal Fallist ‘protests’ are met invariably with appeals (not action) from the Executive to cease, desist and/or vacate. But, in the end, they culminate in “arrangements” that blanketly grant Fallists clemency and/or amnesty. Requests, even formal motions, from the “Silenced Majority” for broad, multifaceted, probing consultation are ignored. If they slip through bureaucracy, they are quashed in committee. Such requests now have to be ‘channelled’ through IRTC ‘constituencies’ identified by the November 2016 Agreement between four members of the Executive (two of whom are gone) and nine PASMA-affiliated Fallists.
Sadly, some of the ‘core constituencies’ (certainly the one for alumni) are controlled by ardent Fallist and anti-‘white’ ‘activists’ like Lorna Houston, who claims to have been “disappeared” (in favour of ’whites’) by UCT. She now has immense power within the UCT Convocation, IRTC and Alumni Association. She openly favours blanket amnesty for lawbreakers, equates nuanced insult with physical violence (which she describes as “youthful tactics” of “progressives”) and advocates the dismantling of “whiteness” at UCT. This is because “the past [anti-black discrimination] is still present”. George Orwell must be rolling in his grave!
Non-racialism at UCT formally ceased and xenophobia gained a toe-in-doorway when the Executive and Council granted formal recognition to the Black Academic Caucus as an official UCT structure, despite its Broederbond-like behaviour, and allowed academic posts to be advertised for “black South Africans” (e.g. the Mafeje Chair). Alleged nuanced, “cumulative”, “unintended”, even “invisible” institutional and individual “racism” is used to humiliate and defame ‘them’ (‘whites’, ‘blacks’, old, young, gay, lesbian, men, women, staff, students) in public, print and in committee when they criticize Fallists. Free speech and academic/artistic expression are suppressed by the Executive when Fallists insist that they are offended by the words and works of non-Fallists - ‘whites’, ‘blacks’, women, young, old, et al. Fallists are never (not even sometimes) admonished by members of an Executive that has undertaken to “speak out against all forms of hate speech”, leaving “no one behind”. Daviean Academic Freedom is on the wane because ‘new Academic Freedom “may also entail other [unspecified] criteria” and is “not frozen in the 1950s”. It needs to be “reinvestigated, reinterpreted, reunderstood (sic) and reapplied“ in the light of “other [unspecified] issues”.
But worst of all is the treatment of first-year students who have been educationally ‘disabled’ by South Africa’s dysfunctional school system. Far, far too many are admitted, well beyond the capacity of a shrinking population of Core academics to mentor/nurture/counsel them. Perhaps less than 10% of those lured in (enriching UCT’s coffers with government student subsidies) earn a high-quality, three-year diploma in the allotted time. On top of this, many of the academically weakest and socio-economically oppressed among them are marginalized into Academic ‘Development’ (AD) and struggle to find adequate food and accommodation, because a ‘chicken-strategied’ UCT Executive chooses not to invest financially comprehensively in them. Then, when Fallists shut down lectures, libraries, offices, sports fields and even UCT residences within which they may dwell, they struggle academically and fail to pass examinations allowed to occur.
Finally, when some of these AD kids are refused readmission by caring, subject-specialist educators who are competent to predict their academic potential, these decisions can be overturned by bureaucrats who ‘know better’. This creates cohorts of kids who, after being ‘disabled’ at school, never earn a university degree or are, at best, ‘awarded’ a low-level, three-year ‘certificate’ equipping them for nothing after five or six years, often accompanied by a massive unpaid fee bill. Many of those few who find merit-based employment default on their debts. All leave UCT frustrated and/or full of hate.
While all this is happening, based on the assumption of ongoing ‘past-is-still-present’ institutionalized racism, racialized and race motivated task teams, committees, programmes are created to:
1. generate ‘microwaved’ professors;
2. stifle Academic Freedom and Artistic Expression;
3. excise nebulously offensive literature, symbols, epistemologies;
4. denigrate internationally acclaimed colleagues and even Nobel laureates;
5. find novel ways to spend booty from denigrated donors;
6. remove, rename and replace remote reminders of invisible/nuanced cumulative pain;
7. find new “truths” and “contexts” to “socially/restoratively” ‘justify’ populist ‘philosophy’;
8. re-write ‘history’;
9. teach complex mathematics in a week; and
10. find new ways to increase costly centralized admin.
Academic Union (AU): Maanda Mulaudzi (rep) and Catherine Hutchings (alt)
HoDs: Hussein Suleman (rep) and Eric Van Steen (alt)
Black Academic Caucus (BAC): Khwezi Mkhize (rep) and Shadreck Chirikure (alt)
Executive Directors: Russell Ally (rep) and Gerda Kruger (alt)
Alumni: Nombulelo Magula (rep) Lorna Houston (alt)
Pass Forum: Sonwabo Ngcelwane (rep) and Edwina Brooks (alt)
Employees Union (EU): Andrea Plos (rep) and Samuel Chetty (alt)
NEHAWU: Lindikhaya Payiya (rep) and Noluthano Pawulina (alt)
Non Recognised Unions: to be finalised
SRC: Rorisang Moseli (rep) and Nthupula Masipa (alt)
Shackville SRC Candidates: Mlingani Matiwane (rep), Sinoxolo Boyi (rep), Sinawo Thambo (alt) and Lindokuhle Patiwe (alt) but “alts” may be substituted
TC: First of all, contrary to the Agreement, the university did not host university-wide meetings/seminars to explain and launch the process, with or without the facilitation of skilled external persons with the purpose of explaining the origins and role of the IRTC process and the principles of restorative justice. Why, for example, are there ‘constituencies for Other Student Formations, Non Recognised Unions and Black Academic Caucus (BAC)? These had no formal status at UCT. Why inflate Executive representation by having a constituency for Executive Directors?
SRC: Rorisang Moseli (rep) and Nthupula Masipa (alt)
ShackvilleTRC/SRC Candidates: Mlingani Matiwane (rep), Sinoxolo Boyi (rep), Sinawo Thambo (alt) and Lindokuhle Patiwe (alt) but “alts” may be substituted
Other Student Formations: Thembelihle Ncayiyana (rep) (alt not yet filled)
Deans: Penelope Andrews (rep) and Mills Soko (alt)
Senate: Nicola Illing (rep) and Jeremy Seekings (alt)
Academic Union (AU): Maanda Mulaudzi (rep) and Catherine Hutchings (alt)
HoDs: Hussein Suleman (rep) and Eric Van Steen (alt)
Black Academic Caucus (BAC): Khwezi Mkhize (rep) and Shadreck Chirikure (alt)
Executive Directors: Russell Ally (rep) and Gerda Kruger (alt)
Alumni: Nombulelo Magula (rep) Lorna Houston (alt)
Pass Forum: Sonwabo Ngcelwane (rep) and Edwina Brooks (alt)
Employees Union (EU): Andrea Plos (rep) and Samuel Chetty (alt)
NEHAWU: Lindikhaya Payiya (rep) and Noluthano Pawulina (alt)
Non Recognised Unions: to be finalised
Executive: Max Price (VC) and Loretta Feris (DVC Transformation)
Alumni: Lorna Houston (alt),
HoDs: Eric van Steen (alt)
SRC: Nthupula Masipa (alt)
It was agreed that:
1. all subsequent SC Meetings be live-streamed to the UCT Community, but the committee may determine by agreement that certain discussions (e.g. relating to the privacy of specific individuals) will need to be conducted in closed session;
2. SC members must regularly consult with and report back to their constituencies;
3. both representatives and alternates may attend meetings;
4. the role of the Rapid Response Task Team (RRTT) is to deal with day- to-day and crisis issues;
5. members should look at the “grey areas” (not strictly illegal but disruptive) vis-à-vis protest;
6. the SC should strive to reach consensus through engaging with each other, minimizing the need for voting;
7. stakeholders unhappy about an SC decision reached through consensus should not lobby for support outside against the SC, but rather work through their constituency representatives within the SC;
8. the SC serves to advise Council and cannot make binding decisions on behalf of the University;
9. for students to believe in the IRTC process, they need to know how the recommendations will be implemented;
10. provisional terms of reference will be clustered into three broad areas, as per the agreement of 6 November 2016:
a. look into what is referred to as the ‘Shackville protests of February 2016, including any related and subsequent protest actions
b. invite submissions from all constituencies on clemencies that were granted and whether clemency should be turned into amnesty, making recommendations on how the university should deal with pending cases and other such matters in future;
c. make recommendations on institutional culture, transformation, decolonisation, discrimination, identity, disability and any other matters that the university.
The details of the discussion on the time frame for the IRTC, the terms of reference and the criteria for selecting commissioners would be written up and circulated to the steering committee in the next week and would then be shared with the university community.
Framework for selecting commissioners: The SC proposed the following criteria for nominating commissioners:
1. Commissioners must be persons with integrity and a commitment to social justice and must have support from the wider campus community.
2. Commissioners must be independent from UCT, but may include alumni. Thus, no current staff or students are eligible.
3. Commissioners should preferably have experience in restorative justice processes, e.g. have been part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
4. Ideally, the commission should include at least one person with legal expertise e.g. a judge with an appreciation for social justice and transformative constitutionalism.
5. At least one of the Commissioners must have understanding of, and experience in, dealing with trauma.
6. Commissioners must possess demonstrated sensitivity to issues of race, gender, ability, and LGBTIQ identities.
7. Commissioners must have at least ten years’ experience working in civil society and experience in engaging with complex institutions.
8. Commissioners must be able to be flexible with regard to time commitments and available to participate fully in the IRTC process.
9. For financial reasons preference should be given to locally based commissioners.
10. The race and gender profiles of the Commissioners should be taken into account.
11. UCT may have to pay some of the Commissioners in order to get the best Commissioners that will have trust of the university community.
12. The SC decided on a maximum of five Commissioners.
13. Three will constitute a quorum.
14. Each constituency may nominate up to five commissioners.
15. The steering committee will consider the nominations and make recommendation to Council, who will appoint the commissioners.
16. The call for nominations for commissioners, together with the agreed criteria for commissioners, will be sent out to the university community in February and again when students have registered in March.
17. Nominations will close on 20 March 2017.
18. Members of the university community constituencies will be asked to send their nominations, accompanied by a motivation, to their respective representatives on the steering committee.
19. A portal will be set up to receive nominations.
The Chair of the steering committee or Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Transformation will issue a campus-wide statement after every meeting.
A secretariat will organise and capture the minutes of the SC meetings. The minutes will be sent out to all steering committee members for approval.
N.B. Khwezi Mkhize (BAC) made the point that voices from the so-called ‘progressive’ sector(s) should be given “more weight” in the hearings of the IRTC. Even if they comprised a minority of the University, they should simply “over-ride the majority”. He questioned whether the Steering Committee process needed to be “broadly inclusive and legitimate”, insisting that some things were “non-negotiable”, and “some voices” should be “disregarded”.
Chairperson Sipho Pityana countered that all voices should be heard, especially voices with which we disagree, and that we all need to engage with each other.
Max Price responded saying that the current rules for student discipline may need to be modified so that they can serve us better in the future. An example of a modification would be allowing the VC to unilaterally grant amnesty or clemency to students. No provision for this exists at the moment. All cases relating to amnesty or clemency have to go to Council for final approval.
TC: This immediately sets off warnings that Fallists are non-democratic and the VC wants increased power.
Meeting 2: 23 February 2017
Bulie Magula (Alumni)
Hussein Suleman (HoDs. rep.)
Eric Van Steen (HoDs, alt.)
Lindikhaya Payiya (Nehawu, rep.)
Noluthano Pawulina (Nehawu, alt.)
Sonwabo Ngcelwane (PASS Forum)
Max Price (Executive)
Sipho Pityana (Council, Chair)
Debbie Budlender (Council)
Loretta Feris (Exec)
Russell Ally (ED)
Maanda Mulaudzi (AU)
Catherine Hutchings (AU)
Shadrack Chirikure (BAC)
Khwezi Mkhize (BAC)
Penelope Andrews (Deans)
Lorna Houston (Alumni)
Nicola Illing (Senate)
Jeremy Seekings (Senate)
Edwina Brooks (PASS Forum)
Samuel Chetty (EU)
Andrea Plos (EU)
Lindokuhle Patiwe (ShackvilleTRC)
Simon Rakei (ShackvilleTRC)
Sinoxolo Boyi (ShackvilleTRC)
Rorisang Moseli (SRC)
Under apologies, Loretta Feris alerted the committee to the absence of representatives from the non-recognised unions. She informed the Committee that management is currently involved in negotiations about recognition of the union/s that will represent workers in pay classes 1-2. The process is still ongoing and will likely continue until the end of April. She suggested that it could be problematic to bring in representatives prematurely who might not ultimately comply with the agreed requirements for recognition. She proposed two options for the consideration of the Committee: (i) leave the situation as it is until the end of April, or (ii) find another way of facilitating representation of these workers in the short term to ensure that the voices of this constituency are heard.
The Committee was informed by Lindokuhle Patiwe that all but one of the six groupings that management had been meeting with had been afforded interim organizational rights. He therefore proposed that the groupings which had been granted organizational rights should be represented on the SC. He argued that there was no need to wait until the end of April to resolve the matter.
Khwezi Mkhize (BAC) said that the absence of this constituency raised concerns about the profile of the committee as currently it seemed biased in favour of management. He felt that more students should be on the Committee.
TC: Another attempt to increase Fallist representation.
Rorisang Moselle expressed the view that it would be problematic to incorporate people from non-formal groupings into the Committee on the basis of probabilities and argued that a principled approach was needed to resolve the problem. He also queried whether UCT had any staff in pay class one. Loretta Feris indicated that she would check this with the Human Resources Department. She raised the possibility of using another mechanism to select people to represent the constituency in the meantime. For example, all the staff in the relevant pay classes could be directly balloted to vote on two representatives from a list submitted by all the groupings.
Khwezi Mkhize supported the need to look for an alternative in the spirit of inclusivity and again raised a concern about the structure of the SC being management heavy.
TC: Still another attempt to increase Fallist power. This point should be considered carefully due to subsequent lack of input/participation by Fallists.
Russell Ally appealed to the Committee not to stray from the principle of determining representation for the previously outsourced workers to raise other issues. He proposed that in the spirit of inclusivity there should be provisional representation for this category, pending the resolution of the process.
Edwina Goliath pointed out that she was representing the PASS forum, which is only for staff from PC 10 and above, and therefore there was another gap in relation to representation of staff. She felt that the groupings which had been granted organizational rights should be given representation on the SC.
Nicola Illing and Sinoxolo Boyi queried whether it would not be possible for all the groupings to be asked to elect a representative to represent these staff members in the interim.
Maanda Mulaudzi supported the proposal to arrange for a ballot of the workers in the short term on the grounds that the groupings were mobilizing the workers and thereafter it would emerge which union had majority support.
Loretta Ferris reminded the Committee that when Council approved the composition of the SC they had recommended that the representatives of the non-unionized groupings should be elected by a forum of all the groupings. However, this had proved to be difficult to achieve in practice.
Sinoxolo Boyi proposed that management needed to facilitate direct representation of the workers via a ballot. This was supported by the Committee. In concluding the discussion, the Chair Pityana said like all other constituencies non-unionized groupings must have a representation. Management must facilitate this.
The Minutes were approved subject to an acknowledgement that members had not been asked to submit comments on the sections pertaining to the terms of reference or the Criteria for nominating commissioners, as these were the focus of the current meeting, and the inclusion of the following motion submitted by Samuel Chetty, representative of the Employees Union.
The Minutes should reflect that the Employees Union had explicitly motioned for the retention of section 2(b)(i) of the "Agreement with the SRC Candidates/ShackvilleTRC and other student formations" which refers to the need for the Institutional Reconciliation Transformation Commission (IRTC) to "look into what is referred to as the 'Shackville protests' of February 2016, including any related and subsequent protest actions" as a cluster on its own in the terms of reference.
The meeting supported the retention of this clause in the terms of reference, given the importance of acknowledging the historical and social context within which the protests occurred.
The meeting then agreed to move on to discuss substantive issues related to the terms of reference.
The Chair reported that the only written submission had been received from the Senate Representatives. He informed the meeting that Hussein Suleman had written to inform the SC that HoDs had not received any objections to the terms of reference contained in the draft call for nominations of commissioners from their constituency.
Nicola Illing said that the draft Call for nominating commissioners had been sent to all members of Senate. They set up a Vula site but this was not used for submitting comments. The site contains a record of the comments received by email.
TC: No other constituency has a Vula site.
Khwezi Mkhize cautioned against adopting overly localized terms of reference given that the protests formed part of a national movement which was affected by various specificities. The chair supported the need for the commissioners to consider the national context within which the protests occurred and the impact that the national movement may have had on the UCT protests.
The meeting agreed that the terms of reference should include a reference to local and national factors impacting on the student protests.
A discussion then ensued about the reasons for the focus on the Senate submission as it was “only a single constituency”. It emerged that some constituency reps/alts had not yet consulted with those whom they represent and were therefore unable to provide input yet. This suggested that a discussion about the terms of reference was premature.
Khwezi Mkhize questioned why there had been a departure from the Agreement where it was specified that Management would facilitate various engagements to launch the IRTC. Loretta Feris reminded the Committee that the SC was not referred to in the Agreement and that this section had been included before there was an agreement to establish a SC to facilitate engagement with constituencies.
TC: Feris is wrong. Here is the relevant quote from the Agreement:
“The university will host university-wide meetings/seminars to launch the IRTC/Shackville TRC process. These meetings/seminars will be led by skilled external facilitators with the purpose of explaining the origins and role of the IRTC/Shackville TRC process and the principles of restorative justice.”
Chairperson Pityana referred to the document on the SC, which had been approved by Council, which specifically referred to the role of the SC representatives in consulting with constituencies about the terms of reference. Once commissioners are appointed, they will go around and consult constituencies and they may then amend the terms of reference. He then proposed extending the original deadline of 16 February. Providing additional time was important because of the trust gap that existed at UCT and the need to build support for the IRTC amongst stakeholders. The members agreed to extend the deadline to 31 March. It was agreed that the consultations would also cover the draft criteria for nominating commissioners. The three points in the Agreement about the terms of reference would form the basis of the document that would be used as a basis for consultation. The Chair reminded the Committee that the terms of reference were intended to serve two processes – to give commissioners a sense of what the University was trying to achieve, but also to serve as a basis for consultation with stakeholders about their envisaged role. The Commissioners would subsequently have some latitude to amend the terms of reference if deemed necessary.
A small committee was set up consisting of Nicola Illing, Samuel Chetty, Khwezi Mkhize, Rorisang Moseli, Sinoxolo Boyi and Thembelihle Ncayiyana to prepare revised terms of reference.
The comments should be sent to the Secretariat by 31 March. The Secretariat will consolidate the inputs and send them to the members of the Committee. The small committee will aim to meet before 10 April to prepare a revised draft for discussion by the SC in the week of 17 April.
Any other business
Khwezi Mkhize asked if the students who are affected by clemency and exclusions are allowed to come back this year.
Loretta Feris replied that in principle, yes. She reported that some decisions rest with the Registrar and others with the faculties, because financial and academic issues are involved. Each case needed to be examined separately.
Sinoxolo Boyi suggested that whilst the individual cases might differ there should be agreed general principles to guide the decisions. He reported that the students were flabbergasted that clemency means that the charge remains on the record.
The ShackvilleTRC representatives argued that they would have expected a set of general principles to be applied, namely that the students should be granted retrospective leave of absence, and that they should not have to pay fees for classes that they were not able to attend. Any outstanding fees should therefore be written off and if they had residence places or financial assistance they should be reinstated.
TC: In short, lawbreaking Fallists want unconditional amnesty and free fees and accommodation.
The Chair stressed that it is important to separate the issue of clemency from any academic or financial issues and stated that management needed to provide categorical answers to the question asked by a particular deadline.
Rorisang Moseli queried whether there was a possibility that some of the students might not come back. Loretta Feris responded that management was committed in principle to facilitate their return.
The Chair reiterated that Management had not been asked to present a report to the SC and that they should therefore be asked to present a report by 3 March. However, he declared that if management had an agreement with students they must make good on the agreement.
Lindokuhle Patiwe reminded the Committee that the students had signed the agreement on the basis that the students would be back at the beginning of academic year. He informed the Committee that some of the students had gone home because of a lack of clarity on their situation.
Simon Rakei expressed the view that as it was past the middle of February it was a blatant indication of bad faith that no clear decisions had yet been communicated to the students, who were very anxious about their future. It amounted to a breach of the agreement. The Chair acknowledged that students are right to be anxious because there is distrust. Lorna Houston and Khwezi Mkhize requested that student input be incorporated into the report to be provided to the SC.
Jeremy Seekings indicated that whilst he was totally sympathetic to the students for raising the question he felt it was inappropriate for the SC to discuss the issues as it was unambiguously a Rapid Response Task Team (RRTT) issue. He suggested that ShackvilleTRC raise the issue with the RRTT.
This was contested by Shadrack Chirikure who felt that it was hard to divorce clemency issues from the IRTC as the two issues were interlinked.
The Chair, while acknowledging that this was an RRTT matter, agreed that the processes were interlinked and that therefore it was important for the matter to be discussed by the SC.
Simon Rakei queried whether it was possible to continue with this process in good faith because a key focus of the IRTC was on the questions of clemency and amnesty for the students.
TC: Yes, the IRTC, not its SC.
The Chair requested members to give management the benefit of the doubt that they want to deliver on the agreement and stated that as Chair of Council he would be holding management to account about this. He said members needed to be mindful of the fact that the agreement had specified that the RRTT and not the SC was responsible for ensuring that the agreement was implemented.
There was agreement that the SC did need to exercise oversight of the work of the RRTT to ensure that the agreement was implemented.
Jeremy Seekings stated that the discussion had highlighted issues related to the transparency of the RRTT which needed to be addressed. The RRTT needed to be more forthright and transparent otherwise issues would land on the SC table.
The chair ended the meeting by stressing that all processes should be transparent. The meeting had been difficult but this was illustrative of where UCT was at as an institution.
Meeting 3: 18 April 2017
Portia Nyalela (Non-recognised Unions)
Nombulelo Magula was connected only via livestreaming and was invited to call in with comments to Lorna Houston.
Sipho Pityana (Council, Chair)
Debbie Budlender (Council)
Loretta Feris (Exec)
Russell Ally (ED)
Maanda Mulaudzi (AU)
Catherine Hutchings (AU)
Shadrack Chirikure (BAC)
Khwezi Mkhize (BAC)
Penelope Andrews (Deans)
Lorna Houston (Alumni)
Nicola Illing (Senate)
Jeremy Seekings (Senate)
Edwina Brooks (PASS Forum)
Samuel Chetty (EU)
Andrea Plos (EU)
Lindokuhle Patiwe (ShackvilleTRC)
Simon Rakei (ShackvilleTRC)
Sinoxolo Boyi (ShackvilleTRC)
Sinawo Mambo (Shackville TRC)
Tembelihle Ncayiyana –Other Student Formations
Rorisang Moseli (SRC)
Bulie Magula (Alumni)–connected electronically
Hussein Suleman (HoDs. rep.)
Eric Van Steen (HoDs, alt.)
Sinoxolo Boyi requested clarification from the Executive as to why heads of unions were not balloted to elect a non-recognised union representative. He sought further clarification on the process followed to hold a direct ballot of Pay class 2 staff.
Loretta Feris explained that there was difficulty with working with union groups for balloting purposes.
The rest of the unions were still in negotiations for bargaining rights. HR advised that for this reason it would not be viable to convene union heads because of the contested nature of the space due to the fact that Unions were still in the process of mobilising for membership.
Two members were elected. Linda Maqasha was present at the meeting.
Provisional Terms of reference for IRTC
Nicola Illing reported that only three of the six members chose to attend the scheduled meeting of the sub-committee on 13 April 2017. She reported that Samuel Chetty and Thembelihle Ncayiyana were in attendance, and apologised for not being able to pronounce Thembelihle’s surname. She noted that Sinoxolo Boyi tendered his apology. Khwezi Mkhize (other than submitting a short, written statement after the meeting) and Rorisang Moseli did not participate.
TC: Note the absence of SRC, BAC and TRC members
Max Price attended the meeting and requested to participate as an observer. Given that only three members were present, the meeting agreed that Max Price could participate. Illing further explained that the Sub Committee considered the Terms of Reference (TOR) circulated by Judy Favish, Senate’s comments on this as well as the BAC’s late statement and Alumni’s two documents.
The Sub Committee tried to come up with a consensus document.
Lorna Houston raised a point of order on the comment that the previous speaker’s inability to pronounce Thembelihle’s surname. She requested that the Chair be more mindful about these matters. Nicola Illing apologised to Thembelihle and expressed a willingness learn how to pronounce her surname correctly.
Jeremy Seekings inquired as to why the Vice Chancellor attended. He indicated that the Executive had been very heedful of the perception that it was driving the processes and very respectful of constituencies involved. The Vice Chancellor was not an elected member of the sub-committee and therefore it was not appropriate for him to be present.
Max Price explained that he had read all submissions and felt that they raised points that he wanted the sub-committee to consider. He approached the sub-committee to be either an observer or participant since upon his review of the minute he did not understand that it was exclusive, but rather was established for purposes of efficiently synthesizing all input received.
Nicola Illing explained how the submissions were incorporated into the report.
The Chair invited other members of the Sub Committee to comment.
Samuel Chetty confirmed that in his view the essence of all submissions was captured in the sub-committee draft and that the draft was aligned to the original Agreement.
The Chair thanked the Sub Committee and then proceeded to open the discussion.
Thembelihle Ncayiyana raised a concern that so few student submissions were made. In her case she felt that students did not identify with the process and, on that basis, were unwilling to engage.
Khwezi Mkhize said that it was important to note “where the draft TOR is coming from [Senate]” and that it does not include students’ inputs.
TC: Note absence of SRC/BAC/Shackville members and lack of input/interest from students, and clearly biased BAC member.
The Chair questioned the validity of that Mkhize’s statement stating that the original TOR in the Agreement came from student involvement, but was very concerned about the lack of student input.
The absentee Sinoxolo Boyi cautioned that the process is moving too fast and the Steering Committee that he had cautioned against the dates set given the study cycles. The occupation (of the Mafeje Room), mid-term tests, and SRC elections (which would run until the first or second week of May) had also made it difficult for students to make submission. He stated that the student-led movement was in favour of the submissions made by the Alumni and the BAC but these have not been fully reflected in the sub-committee’s draft. Students would like to own the process and therefore requested a postponement to make submissions. He cautioned that favouring operational issues (timelines etc.) over substantive issues (involvement of students) to expedite matters would delegitimise the entire process which in future could lead to more student protests.
TC: Veiled threats of “more protests”.
The Chair confirmed that the missing input from students was critical. He asked the SC to consider the request for a postponement given the strong motivations made. He advocated for full debate on the matter and invited constituents to express their views on the extent to which they felt their feedback was accommodated in the draft TOR.
Lorna Houston raised a concern about point 4 in the sub-committee’s draft TOR. She referred to the judgement of the Concourt in the matter of Hotz vs UCT as well as the Constitutional right to engage in peaceful protests. In her view, point 4 which speaks to the need for ‘boundaries of legitimate protest’ is one that is determined by law and cannot be determined by the IRTC.
Penelope Andrews disagreed with Lorna Houston regarding the constitutional court’s judgement on the limits of lawful protest. She emphasized that the court in its decision explained in clear terms the limits of lawful protest, and in fact mandated that UCT took appropriate steps against those students who had engaged in unlawful protest.
Khwezi Mkhize repeated the concerns raised by Sinoxolo Boyi and Thembelihle Ncayiyana regarding how the current draft of the TOR was verbatim from Senate. He requested that this view be confirmed by Nicola Illing and Jeremy Seekings. Illing confirmed that the sub-committee considered the original Agreement, the draft that was circulated by Judy Favish and then used the Senate document as the backbone from which to work.
Given that the Alumni document was very long, the document circulated by Judy Favish was regarded as a sensible place to start. Khwezi Mkhize questioned the rationale for framing Point 4; ‘the boundaries of legitimate protests’. He felt that within the terrain of struggle things will change and that it was problematic to fix boundaries of protests. He called for the expunging of clause 4. Mkhize also felt that it was important for the TOR also to articulate clearly what is meant by decolonization and transformation.
Judy Favish clarified that the initial draft came from the minute of the first meeting of the Steering Committee. Since several objections were raised it was subsequently agreed to reconvene a special Steering Committee meeting to have a discussion on the TOR as well as the clear up inaccuracies in the minute. The Senate document then used this draft TOR as a basis for their input.
Jeremy Seekings questioned why the IRTC, which would be considering behaviour, should not also consider what the boundaries of legitimate behaviour should be.
Khwezi Mkhize objected to how Jeremy Seekings pronounced his name. The Chair stated that it was offensive to mispronounce names. Jeremy Seekings apologised to Khwezi Mkhize and to everyone else also noting that his own name was routinely mispronounced at the University. The Chair ruled that since both Nicola Illing and Jeremy Seekings apologised and requested assistance in this regard, their request was fair.
Khwezi Mkhize objected that Jeremy Seekings was permitted to continue to speak after he objected to the pronunciation of his name. The Chair ruled that it was protocol to give the person holding the floor the opportunity to have their say. Khwezi Mkhize accepted the apology offered by Jeremy Seekings while pointing out that greater sensitivity needed to prevail especially after the matter was initially raised by Lorna Houston.
TC: Yet, at 43min20sec into the video-stream, Mkhize mispronounced Illing’s first name as “Nicolai” (a male name) and not “Nicola”. No offence is taken by her. No reprimand from Pityana.
The Chair recommended to the Steering Committee that it might want to spend some time becoming acquainted with one another’s names and that this could be done by way of a round of introductions. Rorisang Moseli raised a concern that it is tantamount to asking Black people to teach others; to perform for white people. In this way, Black people are required to make certain concessions. So, if we do that, we need to be aware of the implications that such an action could spill into other concerns.
Russell Ally redirected the attention of the meeting to Sinoxolo Boyi’s earlier point that the current pace was disadvantaging students and he supported the proposal to postpone the discussion.
Sipho Pityana indicated that Boyi’s request for a postponement would be addressed. Returning to the issue (point 4 of the Sub Committee’s draft; ‘boundaries of legitimate protests’) he guided that the provenance of this matter was less important than the substance even though it referred to an issue of power dynamics. He noted that this was an issue throughout the country. He further indicated that over a year was spent on conversations between business and labour about protest action in Marikana and other strikes in the country, which manifested in ways that seemed outside the law. People with legitimate grievances were exposed to heavy-handed action by police who were not competent to handle the issue.
Pityana further stated that it was important in adversarial spaces to be able to show one’s unhappiness and we (university community) need to define how that happens in an acceptable manner. It (the university) needs to decide on the remit of management when unacceptable forms of protests occur. He indicated that this was a realm that was unfamiliar to many and hence a conversation that the university could not escape. He further stated that this conversation was not particular to UCT given that although we have the right to protest, it is not well-articulated how this can be exercised in the framework of the law. It is better to have a conversation than to have management and experts draft something.
Pityana requested clarity if the Steering Committee had a difficulty with the formulation (of point 4), the fact that it is being discussed or whether it should rather be raised in another forum. Thembelihle Ncayiyana raised a concern that Senate and UCT already took the initiative to draw up a set of rules. These rules were already going to be in effect by the time the IRTC came into operation. She queried whether it would be possible to change those rules. She questioned whether it was worth consulting on this matter as one constituency acted without consulting other constituencies representing a lack of good faith. She advised that the rules should come to a joint platform like the Steering Committee. It would appear that rules were created to protect the institution from protesting students.
Pityana observed that there was a huge trust deficit in the environment notwithstanding the rules. The rules could be put aside. The proposal was for independent Commissioners to be appointed as mediators who would enjoy the confidence of the constituencies. During this process workers, students, and faculty views would be heard. They would assist with shaping those rules. He further committed that there will be no final decision on the part of Council on this matter until it had come through the Steering Committee process.
Khwezi Mkhize impressed upon the Committee the fact that what led to the Agreement was the radical stance taken on the part of students yet the language the Steering Committee was using was more liberal with reference to laws and legalities. This was giving rise to tension as witnessed in the recent occupation of the Mafeje Room.
Maanda Maluadzi stated that point 4 of the draft TOR submitted by the sub-committee needed further discussion. From the AU and EU point of view, the TOR should include Point 4 with the view of reaching consensus within the community.
Samuel Chetty relayed the experience of staff that were left to fend for themselves in a context where management could not guarantee their safety. He says it simply: “We brought our concerns to management but little was done.” “Frankly, management did nothing to protect our safety.”
As a result, the staff raised a dispute through the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CMA). To this end it was necessary to include point 4 in the TOR and thereby allow staff to make submissions to the Commissioners.
Simon Rakei was of the view that Senate wanted to define the bounds of protests with a view to ‘cracking down’ on protests. This was the intention of point 4 and was being done in bad faith. To ignore this (intention) would be disingenuous. Hussein Suleman felt that it was important to stick to the original Agreement and therefore proposed that any additions be excluded.
TC: So, the Agreement is inviolate and the views of ‘other constituencies’ (e.g. AU and EU) that feel that their position is not catered for can be in Mkhize words: “overridden by voices from the progressive’ sector(s)” which have “more weight” in the hearings of the IRTC. Even if they comprised a minority of the University, they should simply “over-ride the majority”. The Steering Committee process need not be “broadly inclusive and legitimate”. Some things are “non-negotiable”, and “some voices” should be “disregarded”.
Sipho Pityana questioned any intention that sending the draft to the different constituencies meant that they were not allowed to add items. The issues affect the entire university community and the additions could therefore not simply be taken out. Hussein Suleman reiterated his concern about the continuous expansion of the TOR.
Pityana reminded the Committee that the original Agreement involved students and management and therefore a decision was taken to invite other constituencies to make additional suggestions.
Sinoxolo Boyi argued that with reference to point 2 of the sub-committee’s draft, whatever additions were made should be to mature and promote the spirit of the Agreement. To state that clemencies could be revoked collapsed the agreement as Council stated that it would either be clemency or full amnesty. He reiterated that students know the boundaries of legitimate protests, but were pushed to exceed those bounds. Reiterating the rules was thus redundant.
As chairperson, Sipho Pityana ruled that the Committee was not in agreement with the draft TOR and that, while discussion was encouraged, the SC also needed to reach conclusion on this. He stressed the importance of inclusivity and was willing to open up the discussion on the extended time required to achieve this.
Edwina Brooks suggested that point 4 was possibly covered by point 1. Point 1 speaks to investigating facts around the protests. This investigation would come up with points as to what was considered legitimate. Point 4 makes the point that there were possibly illegitimate protests.
Nicola Illing indicated that p.2 (point c) of the Agreement was referred to in Point 4 of the sub-committee draft.
Russell Ally was of the view that the revised TOR was not in the spirit of the TOR in the original Agreement. Issues of clemency and amnesty were mentioned, but nothing about revoking amnesty. Since the revised TOR was not in the spirit of the Agreement, every clause was becoming suspect. He expressed concerns about how the process was unfolding given that students did not have the chance to review the Sub-committee’s draft.
Jeremy Seekings spoke to the fact that there were only thirteen signatories to the Agreement. The process currently underway was to ensure broad-based support across all constituencies. The Agreement was the starting point. It was clear from discussions that there was no consistency on legitimacy and the management of protests. Each case where clemency was granted would need to be examined to see how the university should deal with this in the future.
Lindokuhle Patiwe was of the view that Senate was determined to include point 4 while this was being rejected by other constituencies. The Commissioners would need to hear the views of all people. The Commissioners would look at legitimate protests in line with the Constitution. The university may use the laws of the land when students transgress.
Simon Rakei shared the view that the sub-committee did not understand the whole IRTC process. If it wants UCT to enforce the laws of the land then a Senate meeting can be called for this purpose. He observed that particular concerns were coming from parties with particular interests. The ‘right wing’ felt that they were not consulted. The SC should not be subjected to what UCT was in 1980 when colonial standards prevailed. It was not for the IRTC to discuss legitimate forms of protests.
In the interests of moving forward, Penelope Andrews suggested that the elimination of point 4 did not mean that the issues could not be discussed under point 1. Judy Favish shared that in her experience when one started to flesh out the TOR from the Agreement various ideological contestations emerged. She suggested that the SC might want to stick to a very broad TOR and allow the Commissioners to flesh them out. The other option was for the sub-committee to allow students further time.
Max Price -- The Alumni submission had many rich elements but it did not seem to fit into the current framework that was being used. He addressed the perception of negotiating in bad faith on the boundaries of legitimate protest. He explained that this issue arose from the Rhodes-Must-Fall movement’s members on Council and elsewhere who requested guidelines on the use of private security and police on campus. A joint task team was set up between Council and the Fallists. He reported that while a great deal of discussion occurred on the ‘boundaries of legitimate protests’ in terms of the law, grey areas persisted.
For example, it was clear that violent protests and arson were not permitted, but there is a lack of clarity about for example a protest that impedes access to an exam venue and prevents students from writing. He further indicated that these are not covered by the law, courts or the Constitution. He suggested that instead of the task team submitting its report to Council it could rather submit to the IRTC and in that way, open the topic for more comments on how we are to respond to protests and when it would be appropriate to bring on private security, the police and look at other ways of managing it. Council could then consider the recommendations that emerge from the IRTC process.
Thembelihle Ncayiyana emphasised that students required more time and without student buy-in more protests were likely from various student formations. Sinoxolo Boyi raised problems in respect of points 2 and 4 of the sub-committee’s draft. He, in consultation with student formations, felt that the revised TOR was toned down. The students needed more time to consult and requested a reasonable postponement of the process in order to do so.
Lorna Houston noted that the Steering Committee was unlike other Committees at UCT. Its members were part of a greater process and as such more ownership of the process needed to be demonstrated. In this regard, more trust needed to be built in an effort to find meeting points.
Sipho Pityana confirmed the view that agreement was highly unlikely. The heart of the issue was the lack of trust and therefore, as proposed by the Agreement, an external group of people would need to facilitate this process. The Commissioners, he proposed, might serve this process better that he was able to at present. The Commissioners could look at the submissions received.
Sinoxolo Boyi felt that, although the constituents might not come to full agreement on all the clauses of the TOR, they were likely to agree on some minimum TOR. The constituents could then submit further additions to the TOR to the Commissioners. He proposed that students be given until mid-May. The list of Commissioners already agreed by Management and ShackvilleTRC could meanwhile be publicised so that everyone could say if they agreed as well as make additional suggestions. Management could forward to the proposed Commissioners the original Agreement and the minutes of the SC.
As chairperson, Pityana cautioned that the sub-committee that was established had drafted criteria for Commissioners and processes. The suggestion to run a process for selecting Commissioners based on what existed before was not feasible. The SC has to agree on the principles and characteristics it wants for Commissioners.
Sinoxolo Boyi felt that it would be possible to reach consensus on criteria.
Simon Rakei pointed out that, in addition to the criteria which were suggested, individual constituencies had room to nominate so appointments could occur without criteria.
Lindokuhle Patiwe supported the proposal that more time be given for students to make submissions. The Sub-Committee was seen as having tampered with the original Agreement and there should be limits of what could be changed. The proposal was thus for the initial TOR in the Agreement to remain and that people could add and there could be further additions from the Commissioners.
Sipho Pityana supported that extra time be granted to consider the TOR until the second week in May. He invited views on the proposal made that the constituents proceed with identifying Commissioners starting with the three who were suggested before.
Lindokuhle Patiwe stated that he agreed with the first part of the motion, but not the second part. He proposed that people put forward nominations and explain the criteria used to arrive at that nomination. Then at the next meeting the SC would agree on the criteria and then decide which of the proposed Commissioners met the agreed Criteria.
Maanda Malaudzi expressed reservations about splitting the process – that is that the TOR be concluded at a later session but that the nomination of Commissioners proceeds without the criteria being agreed upon. He was of the view that this might give rise to the same feelings which students were currently experiencing – that of merely going along with an ongoing process. He also enquired specifically from students what they were going to address within the additional time. He proposed that if an extension was to be considered that the two issues rather not be split.
Sipho Pityana confirmed that the SC was in agreement to extend the timeframe for further input.
Lorna Houston indicated that she had expected to present the Alumni Framework document at the SC meeting and felt that the sub-committee draft was extremely skewed. In her view, the sub-committee ended up reducing the Alumni input because the members came from a particular perspective and because others were not present. She felt that there was a need for more people to participate. She suggested that a facilitated session with the full SC would help the constituents work through the TOR so that some agreement (if not consensus) was reached.
Thembelihle Ncayiya stated that a few hours during the week were insufficient and proposed that a Saturday could work better.
Simon Rakei supported the idea of having a facilitator and also proposed that the SC has an additional chair (Co-chair).
Sipho Pityana endorsed the idea of a facilitator and did not oppose the idea of an additional Chair for the Steering Committee.
Sinoxolo Boyi accepted the proposal to have a facilitated session, but corrected that it should be held with the entire Steering Committee and not a sub-committee. He understood that, during the period of extension, management would approach the proposed Commissioners to check on their availability but not say that they had been appointed.
Sipho Pityana restated the need for an extension. The right criteria could not be decided if the TOR had not been agreed to. He perceived that the main issue was the lack of trust amongst constituencies and suspicion of management. He felt that an external facilitator was required and raised the question about how this person should be chosen.
Lorna Houston said that the Steering Committee had a life beyond the decision on the TOR and that what she meant by a facilitator was someone who could help the Steering Committee do the process another way. Despite the differences, the members were required to come up with something that they could agree upon. Agreement did not necessarily mean consensus –it meant engaging in a give and take process and being prepared to be reasonable. The facilitator would have the skills to assist with this and would not make decisions.
Sipho Pityana said he was willing for a Co-Chair to be appointed for the SC if it would help the process. He was also wiling to have a facilitator if it would help. He felt that what was most important was to have a process that enjoyed the confidence of all the stakeholders. So perhaps the facilitator could facilitate the discussion on a Co-chair as well.
Nicola Illing felt that the facilitator would address issues of mistrust. She observed that it was problematic if all suggestions from the Senate representatives were viewed with suspicion, irrespective of their merit. She also felt that the facilitator would help address issues of mistrust.
Max Price clarified that Lorna Houston was saying that a day-long workshop of full Steering Committee was required with at least one member of each constituency present in order to work towards agreement of the TOR’s. He suggested that the facilitator look at submissions before the time.
Russell Ally suggested that Nomfundo Walaza be asked to facilitate as she was familiar with the context and enjoyed trust.
Report back on the facilitated workshop of the IRTC Steering Committee – 20 May 2017
The workshop, facilitated by Nomfundo Walaza (who facilitated the process of formulating the Shackville TRC/Executive Agreement in November 2016), was scheduled to run during 09:00 – 15h00, and that all constituencies would be represented. The workshop started late (10h30), until the student representative’s arrival, and ran until 16h00. Not all constituencies were represented (e.g. NEHAWU, payclass1-2, Deans). There were much fewer people present after 15h00.Agreement was reached on both the provisional Terms of Reference and selection criteria for commissioners.
At the very end of the Meeting in the absence of many constituency reps/alts, Lorna Houston (Alumni Alternate Rep.) insisted that the submission entitled Alumni Framework (supported by 63 signatories) be included with Terms of Reference for the IRTC, even though it hadn’t been discussed either at an SC meeting or the workshop.
This document asserts that there is “recurring invisible violence and racism perpetrated by individuals” “at UCT since 1829” that “triggered” the students’ “protest” that “led to criminal charges”.
It also alleges:
1. multiple and simultaneous ‘othering’ of black, LGBTIQA, poor students, and staff;
2. internalised superiority and inferiority;
3. epistemic violence, amongst other exclusionary practices that marginalized black scholars and scholarship.
Taking this cultural violence as a given, it justifies and legitimises “other forms” of violence by protesters.
It talks of “black people who left UCT and current staff who experience institutional racism, saying that their lived experiences are written off as ‘anecdotes that cannot inform policy’ and/or that are not worthy of ‘real’ attention”. “These manifestations have a cumulative effect and result in black
people being pathologised (sic) or criminalised for expressing justified anger and or protests.”
The document was not accompanied by supporting evidence.
Price objected to its inclusion with the workshop’s findings, because to do was “not honest”. It held “different status” and would be perceived to have the “stamp of approval” by the IRTC SC.
Houston described Price’s objections as “classic UCT behaviour” that is “actually outrageous”.
Debbie Budlender disagreed with Price and motioned for “attaching” the document. Another unidentified ‘black’ attendee described it as a document “from black alumni”.
Budlender’s motion was supported by those still present, and it was included among the “relevant documents” distributed by UCT.Status quo
All members of the UCT community were now be able to submit proposals for Commissioners, but were restricted to do so through the two individuals that represent their constituency. The representatives for each constituency will select five nominees which they will send through to the secretariat. The secretariat will compile the nominations from all constituencies for further consideration by the Steering Committee. The aim is to have five Commissioners agreed on by all constituencies.
Provisional Terms of Reference for the IRTC, which may be further refined by the Commissioners once they have been appointed
1. Look into what is referred to as the ‘Shackville protests’ of February 2016, including any related and subsequent protest actions.
2. Invite submissions from all constituencies on the clemencies granted and make recommendations on converting clemencies into amnesty (or the continuation of clemency) and what the nature of these amnesties will be.
3. Make recommendations on how to deal with the outstanding cases in the spirit of restorative justice.
4. Inform itself on all recent and ongoing initiatives to address the issues that fall within the broad scope of the IRTC.
5. Invite all constituencies, and be able to request relevant individuals and structures including task teams, to make submissions on institutional culture and practices, including decolonization and any that entail unjust discrimination, domination or violence including sexual violence.
6. Make recommendations on institutional culture, transformation, decolonization, discrimination, identity, disability, labour relations and any other matters that the university community has raised over the years or may wish to raise.
Criteria for selecting commissioners
·Commissioners must be persons with integrity and a commitment to social justice.
·Commissioners must ideally have support from the wider campus constituencies
·Commissioners should have no formal association with UCT, but may include alumni. Thus, inter alia no current staff, students or members of Councils are eligible.
·Commissioners should preferably have experience in restorative justice processes, e.g. have been part of the Truth and reconciliation Commission.
·Ideally, the commission should include at least one person with legal expertise e.g. a judge with an appreciation for social justice and transformative constitutionalism
·At least one of the Commissioners must have understanding of, and experience in, dealing with conflict, trauma, institutional and systemic violence.
·At least one Commissioner must have experience in civil society activism and/or advocacy.
·Commissioners should be from diverse backgrounds and must possess demonstrated sensitivity to issues of race, gender, ability and LGBTQIA+ identities.
·Commissioners must be able to be flexible with regards to time commitments and available to participate fully in the IRTC process.
Meeting 4: 24 August 2017
This meeting abandoned its commitment to transparency and was not livestreamed since personal attributes of potential IRT Commissioners were to be discussed.
They were not.
The meeting focused on reports on the May 20th Workshop by Senate representatives circulated to their constituency. Some SC members argued that the reports were:
1. biased by the personal views of the representatives;
2. lacking in analytical content;
3. disrespectful to other SC members personally and undermined relationships within the SC.
Rather than focus on their substance, critics emphasized the reports’ “tone”. For example, the reports described the Workshop as a “process captured by a clique” comprising the ShackvilleTRC/BAC members, accusing them of:
1. ignoring the discussion at previous SC meetings, the dedicated Sub-Committee, and the submissions made by other constituencies;
2. disregarding those parts of the November 2016 Agreement that no longer suit them; and
3. “cherry picking” those parts of the original November Agreement that they “now choose to retain.”
Once again (as with mispronounced names), the critics demanded apologies. Furthermore, if the representatives of the other constituencies produce and circulated similar reports (the alumni reps have failed to do this), they too might be criticized those whom they ‘represent’ and other SC members.
Nevertheless, had the Senate representatives used the words “dominated” rather than “captured” and “coalition” instead of “clique”, there would be no need for apology, but the three substantive assertions remain. This ad hominem approach by anti-Senate critics is little more than a tactic designed to avoid “robust debate” that all SC members claim to want.
One of the ‘Other Student’ representatives even complained about being excluded from the “clique”!
The Senate members primary goal was to question the Workshop “process”.
1. Its start was delayed by some tardy student members.
2. Some constituencies (one union and the Deans) were not represented at all.
3. Many members were not present during the extended final hour, rendering the meeting effectively non-quorate.
VC Price’s contribution was to correctly identify the erroneous ‘decision’ (taken in the very last minutes) to include the highly controversial Alumni Framework document (expressing the views of +-60 alumni) as a “relevant document” circulated on behalf of the SC. This was inappropriate because its highly contentious, evidence-free assumptions and proposals had not been discussed, let alone debated, at the Workshop or an SC meeting. This view was opposed by pro-Fallist SC members who maintained that, since the document was not formally integrated within the TOR and provides “contextual framework”, its inclusion was ‘justified’. Moreover, other, alternative documents, could have been similarly attached.
TC: Since when does an undiscussed/undebated opinion shared by 60 people become broadly “contextual”, let alone “relevant” to the entire UCT Community. Its attachment gave it undue privilege. Are they asserting that another constituency could have submitted such an attachment (e.g. asserting the anti-white racism, ethical relativism and neo-Fascism of extreme Fallists)?
When this “contextual” argument was challenged by Senate members, they were accused of not supporting the IRTC process, “policing” the SC and racism.
TC: If Senate did not support the ‘process’ and Seekings/Illing, why has it consistently voted pro-Fallist and why did it elect Nicci and Jeremy? Most disturbingly, it appears that the SC Chair, Sipho Pityana, suggested that Price (in his capacity as presiding officer of Senate) inform Senate that it was being represented badly and to invite Senate to “reconsider” its representation.
Russell Aly: Senate document was problematic in terms of language, tone and content. We need respectful engagement. There was a lot of bad faith from Senate reps. 2016 agreement was flawed but saved the academic year. People took exception to ToR that went against the spirit of the agreement.
Max Price: Almost everyone who spoke feels the Senate report was unfair and compromised the function of the SC and this has not been corrected, and there has been a refusal to modify the position. Proposes that Senate hear the distress that this issue has caused, so Senate can reconsider their representatives if necessary.
Senate representatives: We are not aware of what kinds of reports – if any – have been provided by our most strident critics to their “constituencies”, so we have no way of knowing how the tone, form or content of our reports compare to theirs.
It is difficult to separate the tone of our criticisms from the fact that we have been critical. We have never intended to offend other members of the SC. Our intention has been to provide Senate with a considered analysis of the process. Our reports have been critical because it seems to us that the SC has been failing to promote the kind of inclusive IRTC that is supported by Senate. Through our repeated and extensive consultation with Senate (including through a dedicated Vula site) we are very aware that there is a very wide diversity of views within Senate. Our sense of the “middle ground” within Senate is that the IRTC needs to promote both reconciliation and transformation, i.e. to take seriously both the R and the T in IRTC, with the IRTC assisting in a broadly inclusive process of critical reflection.
At present there appears to be widespread alienation among academic staff – as there is among professional, administrative and other staff, and among students (as was evident in the unprecedented low polls in the SRC election). The IRTC needs to draw everyone back into the process of rebuilding a shared, transformed and inclusive university. This is a view shared by several members of the SC. Whatever the intention, the attack on the Senate representatives is an attack on this perspective, and serves to facilitate the imposition of a particular vision of transformation on the IRTC process.
Our reports to Senate have provided, in our view, an accurate account and fair analysis of what has happened in the slow process to establish an IRTC. We stand by our accounts of the meetings and analysis of the process. Perhaps it would have been less provocative to write that ‘a faction prevailed’ rather than ‘a clique captured’. We suspect, however, that it is not the language that has caused offence, but the fact that our analysis was critical. Demanding that members of the SC apologise for the tone of a report is too close to demanding an apology for the analysis itself, and that can only lead to the intimidation or silencing of dissenting voices.
If the IRTC is to assist our university in an inclusive process of reconciliation and transformation, then it is essential that the body enjoys broad legitimacy. The SC was tasked with developing the terms of reference and recommending commissioners to achieve this. We and many others had hoped that this could be done through the kind of reasoned deliberation that should characterize a university such as ours. Intimidation and the silencing of dissent serve not only to deny a voice to those members of the University who hold differing views, but also undermines reasoned deliberation.
Chair: The Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC) Steering Committee met on Thursday, 24 August 2017. Before the meeting, an online poll was held in which each constituency was asked to indicate their views on each of the 18 people who had been nominated and had agreed to make themselves available to be commissioners. The results of the poll were to form the basis of discussion at the steering committee meeting as to who to recommend to Council as the five commissioners.
Unfortunately, we found that four of the constituencies did not participate in the online poll. The steering committee felt uncomfortable going ahead without receiving their input and without addressing any difficulties that these constituencies might have had in participating in the poll. We have therefore agreed to hold a second poll, and to postpone the steering committee meeting until this has been done. We have also agreed that the secretariat will ascertain what prevented the participation of the four constituencies and assist as appropriate.
The new online poll will close on Wednesday, 6 September, and the steering committee will meet soon afterwards.
TC: As I write, the deadline passed 20 days ago.
My comments on the IRTC SC process so far and the ‘Alumni Strategy’
The IRTC SC is yet another example of Executive capitulation to non-representative, ideologically radical pro-Fallists in order to stop raw violence. The SC serves to advise Council and cannot make binding decisions on behalf of the University; but certain Constituencies (e.g. the BAC, Shackville and Alumni(?) would prefer otherwise. Although the SC chairperson has insisted that every effort be made to ensure transparency, members of the UCT Community are required to channel comments through ‘constituency’ representatives who are not unbiased and do not seek or benefit from regular consultation. Fallist student and other pro-Fallist ‘constituencies’ are also over-represented (e.g. Shackville, BAC, SRC, Alumni and “Other Students” vs Senate).
The primary concern of pro-Fallist SC members has been to obtain at least conditional amnesty and academic, financial and accommodation-related relief for lawbreaking Shackville Fallist protesters. Although mention was made of identifying unacceptable, but legally debateable, ‘grey’ forms of protest (and how UCT might react to curtail it), pro-Fallist SC members/alternates are opposed to such discussion. There has been no discussion vis-à-vis recommendations on institutional culture, transformation, decolonisation, discrimination, identity, disability and any other matters that the university community has raised over the past 18 months, or may wish to raise in the future”.
Furthermore, if the as yet undiscussed/debated Alumni Framework Document is adopted uncontested, violence will be redefined to include undocumented, nuanced acts of “recurring invisible institutional racism” and “epistemic/ symbolic violence” will be used justify overt, illegal intimidation, disruption, physical violence and acts of destruction by protesters. Houston and her kindred pro-Fallists maintain that this will all be revealed in accounts of “intersecting and interacting forms of inequality as outlined by students and staff” when they finally communicate their “lived experiences” affected “emotionally “and “psychologically” by “white supremacists”.
A simple way to get some sense of the “lived experiences” at UCT RIGHT NOW would be for ALL members of the SC and key players in the various Constituencies to produce personal accounts for general distribution.
The first chapter is an unauthorized ‘distillation’ of the 482-page The University of Cape Town: 1918-1948 – the formative years by Howard Phillips, published in 1993 by UCT Press.
Other major sources are:
1. Zoology Prof. Alec Brown’s Centennial history of the Zoology Department, University of Cape Town, 1903–2003: A personal memoir. Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Afr. 58 (1). 2003. Pages 11–34
UCT at 150: Reflections. A 1979 collection of essays/commentaries edited by Alan Lennox-Short and David Welsh. David Philip, Cape Town
My and Prof. Roy Siegfried’s as yet unfinished Genesis and Development of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology
Prof./Dr Stuart Saunders’ 2000 ‘autobiography’: Vice-Chancellor on a Tightrope: A personal account of climactic years in South Africa. David Philip, Cape Town
. Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s 2008 book: Laying Ghosts to Rest: Dilemmas of the transformation in South Africa. Tafelberg, South Africa
6. former Prof. C.L. ‘Kit’ Vaughan’s 2015 biographical/historical account. On the Shoulders of Oldenburg: a Biography of the Academic Rating System in South Africa. National Research Foundation, Pretoria.
Prof. Lungisile Ntsebeza’s 2016 article. What can we learn from Archie Mafeje about the Road to Democracy in South Africa? Development and Change 47: 918–936. doi:10.1111/dech.1224
Thandabantu Nhlapo and Harry Garuba’s (Eds). 2012. Celebrating Africa at UCT: African studies in the post-colonial university. Published by the University of Cape Town in association with the Centre for African Studies. ISBN: 978-0-7992-2484-9
various articles in the archives of the UCT Daily News.