Council to meet over UCT ruction
● The council of the University of Cape Town will meet this week to discuss the sudden resignation of convocation president Eddy Maloka.
Maloka resigned on Thursday after criticising the appointment of emeritus professor Martin Hall as acting deputy vice-chancellor for transformation following the “unceremonious” exit of professor Loretta Feris, who left before her contract was up.
The university insisted Feris was not fired but granted a sabbatical until January 2022. But there is widespread speculation among staff that she left after a falling out with vicechancellor professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
According to minutes of a council meeting last year, “council was concerned about an undercurrent of tensions in the senior leadership team which threatened good governance and institutional stability”.
In a media release last July, Phakeng admitted “there have been tensions in the executive and much of it has been resolved”.
Maloka told the Sunday Times that Hall’s appointment reminded him of the school of thought in the late 1990s, when a generation of white university administrators proposed draconian regulations for hostels. Maloka, a hostel warden at the time, said: “I don’t want to say that Martin was part of the administrators. But when you go back to that generation to find somebody to deal with the current problems, you are awakening horrors.”
He said there was a need for a new breed of administrators “with fresh ideas and perspectives. I am not happy that I am leaving but I had to.”
In his resignation letter, he said: “I have not been able to explain to myself how a black female deputy vice-chancellor came to vacate her post so unceremoniously, and we opted for a retired white male when the university has so much talent for this portfolio in its midst.”
Feris confirmed she had not been fired, but said: “There are reasons for my early departure that I am not in a position to disclose.”
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the university noted Maloka’s resignation “with sadness and regret”. “The UCT council … will meet shortly to discuss the many issues raised regarding this matter,” he said.
He declined to comment on any tension between senior executives.
UCT was at the centre of another furore this week after Lwazi Lushaba, a lecturer in political studies, told students that Adolf Hitler, who orchestrated the deaths of an estimated 6-million Jews, “committed no crime”. The DA said it will be lodging a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.
In 2019 Lushaba was reprimanded by UCT for stomping on ballot boxes and carrying out verbal and physical attacks because he was unhappy about the outcome of a vote for the dean of humanities.