UCT’s Senate expected to convene special meeting to debate allegations of misconduct

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The University of Cape Town’s Senate is expected to convene a special meeting later this week to debate allegations of misconduct against Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng and Council Chair Babalwa Ngonyama.

The Senate will also discuss how to respond to a Council decision to appoint an independent panel to investigate the allegations.

The allegations centre around the departure of the former deputy vice-chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Associate Professor Lis Lange.

Members of the UCT Council allege that Ngonyama provided false reasons to the Senate for Lange’s departure.

Senate member and Director of the Centre for Social Science Research at UCT Professor Jeremy Seekings says, “I think there’s a very strong feeling in the Senate and the University of Cape Town generally that these fundamental issues of governance need to be addressed.”

“We are really hoping that the investigation appointed by council will have terms of reference broad enough to include these broader fundamental issues not just the current crisis which is the symptom.”

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In a statement earlier this month, Ngonyama said the past weeks have been challenging for UCT and there is a potential for significant damage to the university’s reputation, stability and academic credibility.

She says the university remains sacrosanct in the country, continent and the world as it plays a critical role in the efforts to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, with education being the most impactful lever in making a huge dent on the challenges.

Ngonyama adds that the Deputy Chair of Council communicated the decision to constitute an internal sub-committee to look into the governance and procedural matters relating to the Senate meeting held in September and the contested issues relating to Lange’s departure.

VIDEO: Interview with UCT Council Chairperson Babalwa Ngonyama: