Report back on the second IRTC Steering Committee meeting

03 March 2017 | Sipho Pityana

Mr Sipho Pityana, Chair of the IRTC Steering Committee (and Chair of UCT Council), gives a report back on the second meeting of the committee.

2 March 2017

Dear members of the UCT community

The second meeting of the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC) Steering Committee took place on 23 February. The steering committee is laying the groundwork for establishing the IRTC. In the first meeting of the steering committee on 26 January, there was a lot of discussion about the terms of reference. However, it transpired after the meeting that there were differences of opinion about what was agreed with regard to these terms of reference. Hence a special meeting of the steering committee was convened in the interests of moving forward in an inclusive way.

The second meeting focused initially on a gap in representation: staff members in pay class 2 – part of the newly insourced cohort. While new unions have been granted interim organisational rights, which include access to the workplace to recruit members, use of notice boards, stop order facilities and representation by shop stewards in internal matters, the deliberations associated with recognition are provisionally set to be finalised towards the end of April or early May 2017. Hence the discussion was about how to include representation for this constituency in the interim. The meeting agreed that this constituency must have representation on the steering committee and that UCT management must find a mechanism to facilitate this.

Update on terms of reference

The steering committee was informed that not all representatives had enough time to consult their constituencies on the terms of reference – the next PASS Forum, for instance, only happens on 2 March. As such, the committee members were given until 31 March to do so and to submit amendments to the initial terms of reference contained in the 6 November agreement between the UCT executive and the SRC Candidates / Shackville TRC, as well as to the draft criteria for nominating commissioners, which were developed in the first meeting of the steering committee.

The next meeting of the steering committee will take place two weeks after these submissions are made, by which time a team of students and staff volunteers from the steering committee will have consolidated the feedback.

Other matters

Questions about the clemency and exclusion processes for students involved in protests last year also surfaced in the context of the IRTC process being premised on clemency being granted to those students who were disciplined as part of the university’s disciplinary procedures.

Professor Loretta Feris reported that the clemency process has been initiated and that some students have signed the clemency document. This provides clemency with respect to the UCT disciplinary sanctions. However, there are outstanding processes in respect of the 2016 academic year, in particular those related to outstanding fees and academic results. Management has taken an in-principle decision that students will not be disadvantaged. With respect to their academic status, the registrar has asked the faculties to address each case on its own merits, as some students, for example, actually sat for exams in 2016 or early 2017 while others did not.

The students argued that clemency was meant to aid students in returning to UCT in 2017. Students and several other members of the steering committee expressed the view that the lack of clarity about the situation potentially placed the 6 November agreement in jeopardy, as they had understood that all the students would be returning in 2017 in terms of the clemency provisions in the agreement. The chair of the steering committee indicated that he would be holding management to account to ensure that the agreement was honoured, but stressed that management needed to be given an opportunity to submit a report to the steering committee.

The steering committee has requested that UCT management provide a report to them by 3 March 2017 on the status of the students who had applied for clemency.

Yours sincerely

Mr Sipho M Pityana
Chair of the IRTC steering committee (and Chair of UCT Council)

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