Development Dialogue approach under COVID-19

18 June 2020 | Dr Reno Morar, COO

Dear colleagues

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for all staff members, and I want to thank each one of you for adjusting to this new environment, supporting one another under very difficult circumstances, and working so hard despite the restrictions imposed by lockdown. As always, the well-being of staff during this period remains our top priority, and I want to encourage you to access the various staff support services that are available, should you need to do so.

While in-person interaction between line managers and staff is unfortunately not possible during lockdown, ongoing contact with our colleagues remains vitally important to maintain positive morale and ensure motivation, support and recognition of staff efforts. As part of this engagement, the university has decided to continue with the staff performance reviews that are guided by the Development Dialogue (DD) process. Used for performance contracting, management and development of professional, administrative support and services (PASS) staff, the DD process is essential for effective staff feedback, engagement and building UCT as an employer of choice.

What follows is an outline of the agreed approach to conducting the DD process for the 2019/20 review (ending May 2020) and the 2020/21 contracting cycle (commencing June 2020).

Read the full document:
PASS DD Review and Contracting Process under COVID-19.

Approach and key principles

  • Consistent and fair treatment of employees: It is important that all employees are treated in a consistent and fair manner when assessing their performance. In cases where staff have not been able to fulfil their contracted obligations, performance ratings must remain cognisant of the two-month lockdown period, which should not be held against a staff member unfairly when reviewing the full performance cycle.
  • Consistent and fair implementation of process: Setting clear objectives and providing developmental feedback will mitigate the risk of potential claims of inconsistent application and/or no feedback. Consistency and fairness will include rating staff appropriately where they have performed above expectations, have met expectations, and have performed below expectations. Line managers must consider those circumstances which are beyond the employees’ control and apply a pragmatic approach to the DD review and contracting processes.

Implementing the DD cycle under COVID-19 conditions

Every effort must be made to engage with staff as part of the DD process, and deans and executive directors have been approached to ensure a consistent approach.

While some staff will be able to engage with the DD process remotely via MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, etc, some staff do not have access to these platforms. In these cases, staff must be engaged in telephonic DD conversations wherever possible, followed up with a text message (SMS/WhatsApp) to record a summary of the final discussion.

Despite this deliberate approach and concerted efforts, it may not be possible to engage on performance with some staff. In these cases only, the DD process may be deferred to when these staff members are able to return to work. This return date is still to be determined. Line managers must please be aware that prolonging the period of the performance review may lead to staff missing out on possible development opportunities and may have an impact on staff morale and levels of motivation. Deferring the DD process will also have a knock-on effect for contracting for the 2020/21 cycle, ending in May 2021.

To assist staff in understanding the DD process under COVID-19, we have drafted a set of frequently asked questions. Your human resources practitioner can also guide you through the process and will be distributing a comprehensive timeline to line managers in due course.

View the frequently asked questions about the DD process under COVID-19.

Contact your human resource practitioner.

The university community has seen very few COVID-19 infections, and we must each take joint responsibility for stopping the spread of the virus and helping to keep our colleagues and our students safe. As we slowly start to implement our plan for a phased return to campus, it is now more important than ever to continue with good health and hygiene practices.

For more information on COVID-19, please visit the UCT Coronavirus Disease 2019 page.


Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer

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UCT’s response to COVID-19

COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020. UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has in June 2022 repealed some of South Africa’s remaining COVID-19 regulations: namely, sections 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions under the National Health Act. We are now no longer required to wear masks or limit gatherings. Venue restrictions and checks for travellers coming into South Africa have now also been removed.

In July 2022, the University of Cape Town (UCT) revised its approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic on UCT campuses in 2022.
Read the latest document available on the UCT policies web page.


Campus communications


Adjusting to our new environment 16:50, 23 June 2022
VC Open Lecture and other updates 17:04, 13 April 2022
Feedback from UCT Council meeting of 12 March 2022 09:45, 18 March 2022
UCT Council
March 2022 graduation celebration 16:45, 8 March 2022
Report on the meeting of UCT Council of 21 February 2022 19:30, 21 February 2022
UCT Council
COVID-19 management 2022 11:55, 14 February 2022
Return to campus arrangements 2022 11:15, 4 February 2022

UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre

On Wednesday, 20 July, staff from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences came together with representatives from the Western Cape Government at the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre at Forest Hill Residence to acknowledge the centre’s significance in the fight against COVID-19 and to thank its staff for their contributions. The centre opened on 1 September 2021 with the aim of providing quality vaccination services to UCT staff, students and the nearby communities, as well as to create an opportunity for medical students from the Faculty of Health Sciences to gain practical public health skills. The vaccination centre ceased operations on Friday, 29 July 2022.

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.


“After almost a year of operation, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, located at the Forest Hill residence complex in Mowbray, will close on Friday, 29 July 2022. I am extremely grateful and proud of all staff, students and everyone involved in this important project.”
– Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.

Thank You UCT Community

Frequently asked questions


Global Citizen Asks: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe & Effective?

UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) collaborated with Global Citizen, speaking to trusted experts to dispel vaccine misinformation.

If you have further questions about the COVID-19 vaccine check out the FAQ produced by the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation (DTHF). The DTHF has developed a dedicated chat function where you can ask your vaccine-related questions on the bottom right hand corner of the website.

IDM YouTube channel | IDM website


“As a contact university, we look forward to readjusting our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2023 as the COVID-19 regulations have been repealed.”
– Prof Harsha Kathard, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning

We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.