South Africa: Clouds Continue to Gather Over UCT Vice-Chancellor


In the wake of an unfolding leadership crisis at the University of Cape Town, new heads of the university's governing council were elected over the weekend. They are finances tycoon Babalwa Ngonyama as chair, and social justice advocate Nazeema Mohamed as her deputy, who stand to serve four-year terms.

Vice-Chancellor (VC) Mamokgethi Phakeng, who stands accused of bullying the University of Cape Town (UCT) staff, and of squashing an annual university ombud report outlining such complaints against her.

The university's ombud, Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa, told Daily Maverick that she had received a flood of corroborating complaints after publishing her report online on Thursday.

"Since publishing the report on Thursday, I have been inundated with more complaints about the vice-chancellor's leadership style," she said.

"It shows how sometimes people lose hope, sometimes people think 'What's the point of speaking out?' But seeing the complaints made public, it gave more people courage to step forward."

In the report, which covers the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019, she notes:

"During this reporting period a number of work-related complaints came to me about professional interactions with the VC where people felt bullied, silenced, undermined, rebuked and/or treated unfairly....

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