Honorary doctorate for SARS commissioner

05 March 2007

UCT will award Pravin Gordhan, Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS), an honorary Doctor of Laws degree this year.

The degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD, Honoris causa) will be presented to Gordhan at UCT's mid-year graduation ceremony on 15 June, paying tribute to his stellar contributions to South Africa, both as a political activist and, in a democratic South Africa, as a Member of Parliament and Commissioner of SARS.

"It is an honour for the University of Cape Town, always striving to be a leading university in the country, Africa and the world, to be associated with a leading figure such as Mr Pravin Gordhan," said Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Njabulo S Ndebele.

"Whether as a student activist, a negotiator at a forum that lay the blueprint for our nation's future, or as the head of a pivotal state structure, it is obvious he never shied away from challenges. As a role model for our students - of whom there will be many generations to come - we certainly could not have asked for better."

Gordhan cut his political teeth in the South African student movement, where he led peaceful struggles against racial segregation and inferior education. He trained as a pharmacist at the University of Durban-Westville (now part of the University of KwaZulu-Natal) and worked for a short while at King Edward Hospital in Durban, but was arrested for his involvement in the anti-apartheid movement.

Between 1991 and 1994, Gordhan moved from activist to senior negotiator when he chaired the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) Management Committee, the body that played a crucial role in steering South Africa to democracy. Gordhan also acted as co-chair of the Transitional Executive Council, the governance structure that oversaw the country's transition process prior to the 1994 elections.

From 1994 to 1998, Gordhan served as a Member of Parliament, as a representative of the African National Congress (ANC).

He joined SARS as deputy commissioner in 1998, and was appointed as commissioner in November 1999. One of his main tasks was to transform the country's customs and revenue administration, a strategic state institution.

"I am humbled and honoured to accept the conferment," Gordhan has written in an acceptance letter to Professor Ndebele.

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