‘He gave us a hard time, but it’s the wrong time for Habib to go…’
AS THE hunt for a suitable candidate to replace Professor Adam Habib as vice-chancellor continues, an unlikely source has jumped to the defence of the outgoing Wits University boss.
After giving Habib a headache during his time as SRC president at Wits, Mcebo Dlamini said it was the wrong time for the academic to leave his position.
Reacting to the news that Habib has resigned from his position as Wits vice-chancellor, Dlamini yesterday said the principal still had a lot of work to do at the university.
Habib is leaving his position in December – three years early – and joining the United Kingdom-based School of Oriental and African Studies from January 2021.
Dlamini said: “Our relationship with Adam was one of love and hate; it was never personal. We represented the interests of students and Adam represented management so it was bound to have conflicts and clashes. Adam is a strong person. He has a strong personality and it frustrates us as student leaders.”
Dlamini, who had a number of public spats with Habib during the #FeesMustFall protests, said the vice-chancellor was the perfect man to deal with the chaos at the institution.
“Nobody except Adam would have managed 2015/16. In as much as he used police brutality and everything else he used, no one else would have been able to do that.
“He frustrated us because we know him for his political beliefs and ideological stance. We knew that the man is a humanitarian and a pan-Africanist but the job called him to divorce what he believed in and instead represent the interests of the seat. That frustrated us and that is why we fought him the way he did,” Dlamini said.
Habib should finish his second term at Wits and see his plans into fruition, he said. “He leaves Wits at the wrong time.We had a 2030 plan to expand Wits to the whole of Braamfontein. We don’t know if they will divorce that plan. He leaves at a time when we were pushing for curriculum change. We wanted to review the degrees offered because some are irrelevant for the market. We were in that transition,” Dlamini said.
Habib said he would use his last nine months in office to plan the Wits centenary celebrations. “Wits is turning 100 in 2022 and at the heart is setting up a student endowment fund where we want to spend an enormous amount of money on ‘missing middle’ students to come to Wits without debt.
“There is no doubt that #FeesMustFall was a significant part of the last six/seven years. I also think the way some student leaders and political parties conducted themselves threatened public institutions. I rose to the defence of public institutions. I made no apologies for it.
Dlamini said Professor Ian Jandrell, dean of engineering at Wits, was his pick as Habib’s successor.
“The man understands Wits. He has shown leadership. I subscribe to black consciousness but I am calling for this guy, as a white man, because he understands the pain of a black person in the institution.”
PROFESSOR Adam Habib