‘He gave us a hard time, but it’s the wrong time for Habib to go…’

Pretoria News - - METRO - TE­BOGO MONAMA

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

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