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.

NOVEM­BER 14 2015


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.

Perry-Ma­son Md­waba

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