Report from Special Council Meeting of 6 October 2022

06 October 2022 | Pheladi Gwangwa

Dear members of the UCT community

I write to provide feedback on the outcome of the University of Cape Town (UCT) Special Council Meeting held on Thursday, 6 October 2022.

This urgent meeting was convened to review what transpired at the most recent Senate meeting, which took place on 30 September 2022.

At the Council meeting, the relevant members of the executive provided an update on what transpired, followed by robust discussions among members. I must commend Council members for carrying out such a difficult discussion in the most cordial way, and applying their minds to finding resolutions that are in the best interest of the university.

Following the discussions, Council resolved to constitute a sub-committee that will look into some concerning governance and procedural matters relating to the Senate meeting of 30 September. This committee will review the matter further and then advise Council on a way forward.

Council arrived at the decision to constitute a sub-committee through a vote. It is important to state that all members of Council, including those who also serve as Senate members, voted on this matter.

The Chair of Council provided her version of events on what transpired at a meeting between herself and Associate Professor Lis Lange.

As part of her responsibilities when a Vice-Chancellor becomes eligible for a further term of office, the Chair of Council is obliged to hold confidential and informal consultations with a broad range of stakeholders. She started this process of consultation in December 2021, engaging individually with each member of the executive team, among other constituencies.

Her meeting with Associate Professor Lange on 3 January 2022 was for the Vice-Chancellor consultation process. Contract renewals for Deputy Vice-Chancellors are covered by a separate Human Resources (HR) policy, in which the Chair of Council has no direct role. In terms of the relevant HR policy, the potential renewal of the contract of a Deputy Vice-Chancellor must be initiated by the Vice-Chancellor.

She met with Associate Professor Lange as a continuation of her informal and confidential engagement with stakeholders of the university on the re-appointment of the Vice-Chancellor. During this meeting, when she informed Associate Professor Lange about the possibility that the Vice-Chancellor's term of office would be renewed, Associate Professor Lis Lange became abrasive, aggressive and abusive, making clear her own ambition to succeed Professor Phakeng as the Vice-Chancellor.

The Chair communicated to her that she cannot support this.

Following discussion by Council members, there was consensus on how this matter should be handled. It will be taken further through the sub-committee to be constituted.

Council also received an update on changes in the senior leadership at UCT. This item will be discussed further at the next Council meeting.


Pheladi Gwangwa
Deputy Chair of Council

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