Universities warned against silence during unrest

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Through Rudolph Nkgadima 1h ago

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THE FORMER Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University, Professor Saleem Badat, criticized the leadership of South African universities for their silence during the July unrest.

More than 350 people were killed in widespread looting and violence, which began in KwaZulu-Natal on July 9 and spread to other provinces until July 18.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Free State University (UFS), Badat said the universities’ silence, collectively and individually, during the July unrest was noticeable, as well as inexplicable and distressing. .

“Even though it was to condemn part of what was going on, it didn’t even happen. It is so noticeable that a university in this region of the KZN did not say anything for almost nine days, I consider it to be a failure of leadership of institutions like universities. I hope there is honest and critical thinking about this by universities in South Africa, ”he said.

On the panel, Badat was joined by Professor Thuli Madonsela from Stellenbosch University, Professor Chitja Twala from Free State University and internationally renowned historian Professor Hermann Giliomee.

The webinar took place at a time of renewed emphasis on the collective responsibility of higher education institutions to help address the key challenges of poverty, inequality, unemployment and violence in societies. .

Speaking on the impact of political influences on university governance structures, Madonsela said government involvement in university governance is necessary and inevitable, but must be transparent and constitutionally compliant.

“Constitutions are like medicine. If you buy it and take it incorrectly, it will not work. The government’s impact on universities should be in line with inclusiveness in the country.

“Consensual orientation – good governance is based on consensus for all. We have to follow the rhetoric in terms of what the Constitution says. One of the things we have done wrong is that we are using universities to build societies of inequalities, ”Madonsela said.

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