UWC chairman under fire
Mdwaba was declared ‘delinquent director’ Police arrest 27 CPUT students after protest turns violent
THE CRISIS at the University of the Western Cape has taken a shock turn with the head of the university convocation calling for the suspension of the university council chairman, Perry- Mason Mthunzi Mdwaba, after it emerged that he had been declared a “delinquent director”.
The university said this was a 2011 civil matter under appeal and has no bearing on the integrity of Mdwaba as a member of council.
However, calls for an investigation into Mdwaba’s fitness to hold the position are mounting, with some members of the council and leaders at the forefront of the #UWCFeesMustFall student activist movement saying he must go.
It is understood there is pressure on UWC rector Professor Tyrone Pretorius to institute an urgent investigation into what some have termed the “council chair’s chequered past”.
Mdwaba’s detractors have also accused him of having ulterior motives for refusing to call a special sitting of the council to discuss the degeneration of relations at the institution, which this week resembled a war zone.
Several people are now questioning whether Mdwaba should hold such a sensitive position if he was declared an errant director by the High Court.
Information in the possession of Weekend Argus from the South Gauteng High Court, case no 11/23050, refers to Perry- Mason Mthunzi Mdwaba as the second respondent in a matter concerning litigation involving a black empowerment investment holdings company.
The judgment in that case, deliv- ered by South Gauteng High Court Judge F Kathree- Setiloane on November 27, 2012, declared the first and second respondents in the case “delinquent directors” in terms of the Companies Act 71 of 2008.
A council member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the situation at UWC had now become “an unprecedented crisis”, which would see an entire legacy destroyed if it was unresolved. Others argued the chairperson of the council, which is the highest decision-making body at UWC, should take responsibility.
“What is very clear is that the university’s integrity now hangs in the balance, because they placed a person whose background was not properly reviewed in a position of trust and authority,” said Mulungisi Noludwe, president of the university convocation, which represents thousands of UWC graduates.
“As someone who was declared a delinquent director, it was Mdwaba’s duty to declare everything and not undermine UWC.”
Noludwe criticised Mdwaba’s handling of the crisis on the campus, saying the position of the convocation was that the situation called for the convening of a special council meeting “so that all the core issues can be addressed”.
”Convocation calls for the immediate removal of Mthunzi Mdwaba as chair of council,” Noludwe said.
Asked to comment, Mdwaba said yesterday he had sent his response to Weekend Argus’s questions directly to the rector.
“I have no issue with it. I have answered all the questions and would like the rector to respond,” he said. POLICE arrested 27 Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) students yesterday after they allegedly smashed windows and set fire to campus buildings during a violent protest.
Students headed to the main administration building in Bellville yesterday morning, demanding their tuition fees and debt be scrapped.
The campus was then swamped by heavily armed police officers who stormed into residences and arrested students.
Police spokeswoman Constable Noloyiso Rwexana said the students were later released and would appear in court on charges of public violence.
By late yesterday, Rwexana could not confirm the details of the court appearance.
She said a male student had been arrested at the CPUT campus in Wellington for “arson and malicious damage to property”.
“We will continue to monitor the situation,” said Rwexana.
CPUT authorities said they could not understand what had sparked the protest in light of the fact that student debt totalling R111 million had already been written off this week.
Students vandalised the administration building, burning rubbish
UWC legal adviser Shervaan Rajie responded to several questions sent to Pretorius, asking whether a background check on Mdwaba had been conducted.
The statement on behalf of the institution noted that “as there was no interview, there was no declaration”.
“There was no due diligence as Mr Mdwaba was appointed to the UWC Council by Business Unity South Africa in the category, Organised Business South Africa. The chairperson is elected by members of council and it is not a position that members apply for.”
On the issue of the consequences of Mdwaba being declared a delinquent director, the statement noted: “We have been advised that this was a 2011 civil matter and that it is under appeal. It has no bearing on the integrity of a 30-member council.”
Meanwhile, students have demanded a special council meeting be scheduled so they can address the full university council on their demands.
Earlier this week, leaders of the protest campaign received a copy of a letter sent by Mdwaba to the UWC rector which said he would not call a special council meeting.
He suggested the #FeesMustFall group address their concerns via the SRC, because he would not “speak with unmandated people”.
The receipt of this letter at 11pm on Monday night is understood to be one of the major factors that triggered a new round of protests at the institution, culminating in ugly clashes between police and students on Wednesday.
STAND-OFF: A student tries to break free from police at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology yesterday, where a violent protest led to the arrest of 27 students.