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Dr Bernadette Johnson (Director Transformation and Employment Equity (TEEO) Wits University) asserts that citizens must demand more from the stewards of Universities in SA



We must Demand more of our University Leaders

Universities are a microcosm of society. Several issues continue to bedevil universities. Governance issues at UCT, urination incidents and intoxication at Stellenbosh University, a SIU investigating allegations of corruption and maladministration at the University of Fort Hare, administrative issues and claims of bullying of senior and junior staff by the executive at Unisa. The latter has led to Minister Blade Nzimande appointing Professor Themba Mosia to conduct an independent assessment of Unisa. The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) chairperson of council, Refilwe Buthelezi, recently resigned following concerns over the behaviour of vice-chancellor and principal, Professor Dan Kgwadi and at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University was subject to a parliamentary probe into its vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mbati. Over and above this, South Africa’s student debt has snowballed from R3.2-billion to more than R16-billion since 2011. This could lead to universities crumbling under the weight of debt.  

Universities are mimicking what happens elsewhere in society, yet we must demand better from our universities!! These are unusual and special places where great minds from across the globe meet and so must offer and present the best society has to offer. When this all happens, it begs the question is this the best we have to offer? 

Universities are one of the few social institutions in with government does not have direct control. These are autonomous institutions and have councils which govern the university. Being able to distinguish the role of the council and the role of the management of the university has bedevilled the relationship between council and university management, where councils have become too involved in the daily management and running of the university. Being decisive has been the challenge of both council and management and remaining in their own lanes cannot be taken as an offence by either chair of council or Vice Chancellor. Council appoint Vice Chancellors and members of the Senior Executive of Universities without recognising that not everyone can be nor have demonstrated their capacity to lead a university. 

In fact, a candidate may have a clear history of not being able to lead and yet is appointed as Vice Chancellor. Why does this happen? Have we created new “white boys clubs” in the university? Even if members of councils are fully trained, there has to be an understanding of the kind of leaders universities need. University leaders need to show that they can listen, understand, respond to and engage with diverse stakeholders and interest groups in ways that consistently upholds the central mission of universities which is to develop great thinkers. Most importantly university leaders need to be comfortable with being disagreed with and being surrounded by colleagues who will point out their blind spots and critically and rigorously engage with them. They must be able to take an intellectual beating but if egos are too large and wounds to deep, the danger is leaders surround themselves with their same. After all one would have expected provocation to be the central business of university which is to disrupt and foster disagreement to arrive at consensus. 

When incidents of discrimination re-emerge consistently within an institution, then the intervention and consequences for intolerable behaviour has not been established. How are leaders kept accountable? How are leaders accounting to society for their hot beds of discriminatory behaviours? 

Let’s remind ourselves, universities have not suddenly arrived at this place. There have been many other incidents of corruption, maladministration, and violence over the past 30 years. The current mess we find ourselves in, is perhaps and opportunity for self-interrogation. If truth be told – perhaps we have all been complicit. While intellectuals like to demand accountability of government, we also need to demand accountability of ourselves. We like to blame government and of course they are deserving but we must blame ourselves too. How are we keeping ourselves accountable? When Vice-Chancellors misbehave, why are academics and other stakeholders quiet? When the senior management are unable to resolve intolerable matters of discrimination, why are we silent? Where are the critical voices of our intellectuals?  Even more worrying what has happened to our communities’ voice? It seems no community expresses it disdain with what happens in universities. Corruption cannot define the relationship between universities and their communities. How do we keep from cleaner to Vice Chancellor accountable?

 It is time that communities and society claim universities and says to its leadership and authorities what it wants for its collective well-being and futures. No parent wants to witness universities beset with corruption, bad behaviour by its Vice Chancellors and remain proud that their child attends that university, despite its stunning views. South Africa only has 26 universities, and it needs every one of them. We need leadership that looks way beyond its own personal self-interests and egos and extends it gaze beyond the now and immediate to what matters to future generations of youth and especially South African and African youth. Leadership is a privilege and must only be bestowed on those who can lead with humility and care for all. 

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President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa will tomorrow , Wednesday, 22 March 2023, deliver the keynote address at the first day of the three-day National Conference on the Constitution which is titled Reflections And The Road Ahead.

The event will take place at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng, under the theme “Reflections on the Constitution: Rule of law, accountability, social and economic justice”.

The conference gives the nation an opportunity to reflect and engage in dialogue on the past 25 years of the Constitution, nation building, gender equality, youth economic empowerment, service delivery and social stability, with the objective of charting a way forward that builds on the gains of democracy.

As a platform for deliberating on continuous, robust debate on the purpose and effectiveness of the Constitution, the National Conference on the Constitution intends to broaden the discourse on the Constitution and encourage members of the public to participate in the conversation on constitutionalism and the state of democracy in the country.

Some of the focus areas in the programme include:

• Transforming and building an independent and resilient judiciary;
• Transforming and growing the economy as a constitutional imperative;
• Progress on land reform: restitution and distribution;
• Governance and electoral reform;
• Effectiveness of constitutional and independent statutory bodies in strengthening
constitutional democracy.

The conference will be attended by prominent figures of South African society including academics, members of legislatures, constitutional and independent statutory bodies, mayors, political parties, youth, students, business leaders, religious leaders, representatives of the legal fraternity, traditional leaders, media and others.

The conference will be held as follows:

Date : 22-24 March 2023
Time : 08h30
Venue: Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Gauteng

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Here are the facts:

THE COCA COLA COMPANY (TCCC) acquired THE ENTIRE ISSUED SHARE CAPITAL OF CADBURY SCHWEPPES PLC resulting in the control and management of the global Schweppes businesses into TCCC value chains including Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited (SZL), a company incorporated in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe.

Mr. Brian Musekiwa, a Zimbabwean-born professional based in Texas, USA, said: “I had no idea of the SZL matter and its intersection with the SMM Holdings Private Limited (SMM) affair until I joined the Justice Under Rule of Law’s (JUROL) corporate heritage and legal literacy campaign powered by the Banking on Africa’s Future (BOAF) of which I am a paid up member. I have followed the SZL saga with keen interest not because of the Zimbabwe angle but because TCCC is a global corporate icon and just the idea that this company was party to an extortion and corrupt deal involving the payment of $2.7 million to Chinamasa, Mnangagwa’s key 2017 coup ally, is chilling leading any person like me to want to know if there exists any causal link between the complicity of TCCC’s alleged corrupt practices and conduct in relation to the affairs of the SZL localization and upgrade program concluded with Africa Resources Limited (ARL), a private company incorporated in terms of the laws of the BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS (BVI) and wholly owned by Mr. Mutumwa Mawere, a Zimbabwean born South African naturalized citizen, who Mnangagwa and Chinamasa using Messrs. Edwin Manikai and Afaras Gwaradzimba as surrogates, and the extrajudicial and the unconscionable theft of the control and management of SZL and other juristic entities using an unprecedented draconian and barbaric law called the Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act that was authored by Mnangagwa to bridge him to state power.”

Mr. Cornwell Mutetwa, a Zimbabwean businesan said: “I naively thought that the reconstruction project was solely premised on the affairs of SMM as a company and not on the person of Mawere and his alleged interests in companies like SZL.

I am pleased that Mr. Mucha Mugore, a member of BOAF-JUROL, inspired by findings in his MBA dissertation research on how public power was abused in expropriating Mawere’s relationships with not only SMM but many separate and distinct juristic entities, provoked in a whatsapp group that the record of this sad chapter in the corporate history of Zimbabwe must be corrected preferably in form of a memoir written by Mawere.

I was encouraged and remain so that I have flins myself being part of this noble project that has enabled me to interface with Mr. Mawere who has generously downloaded critical information that hitherto has not been in the public domain. I had no idea that Coca Cola Holdings Netherlands (CCHN) was directly and indirectly involved in the affairs of SZL until I read this:

Having understood that it was the Zimbabwe Competition and Tariffs Commission (TCTC) was weaponized to have jurisdiction beyond its mandate to regulate competition issues to become relevant in prescribing localization matters, I began to understand that under the late Mugabe’s watch the governance system was already broken.

My memory was then provoked to appreciate why the former Minister of Indigenization, Hon Kasukuwere, had a hand in the SZL matter and used his public office to cause ZCTC to require as a condition for approving that the control and management of SZL be divested and deprived from TCCC using public power.

It is against this background that the extortion inherent in the extract below from a meeting between SZL’s then SA-based legal counsel, an employee of Coca Cola South Africa Pty Limited, a private company incorporated in terms of the laws of SA, can properly be understood:

It was made clear to CCSA that unless a payment of $2.7 million was paid to the order of Fidelity Life Asset Management (FLAM) and SMM under Chinamasa’s control through his appointee, Gwaradzimba, the ARL purchased equipment imported from Europe and delivered to SZL as part of the upgrade project, would not be released to an SZL controlled by CCSA until a ransom amount of $2.7 million was paid to the order of Chinamasa.

On the advise of Gwaradzimba whose relationship with SMM was a consequence of a decree and an order issued by Chinamasa with no judicial involvement, CCSA according to Mr. Mokwena, in his capacity as the legal counsel of both SZL and CCSA, was advised by Gwaradzimba and accepted his advise to part with a bribery of $2.7 in million to cause Chinamasa to exercise public power to issue a notice removing SZL from the purported and unlawful and invalid control by Gwaradzimba using the order issued by Chinamasa in relation to SMM affairs only.

It is chilling that Chinamasa used public power to issue a notice dates 26 January 2006 and through his appointee was rewarded with a secret gift of $2.7 million to the prejudice of ARL and its sole shareholder, Mr. Mawere.”

Mr. Peter Makoni, an attorney and a member of BOAF-JUROL, said: “I have had the opportunity to read and understand the sequence of events leading to the confiscation of equipment acquired by ARL using the personal agency of Mr. Mawere as set out below:

It is clear from the fax above that neither FLAM nor SMM under reconstruction were involved in the SZL matter as promoters and sponsors to permit any lawful payment of a bribe of $2.7 million to Chinamasa using cronies like Gwaradzimba and Manikai.

Having concluded that Chinamasa was unjustly enriched to the tune of $2.7 million based on fraudulent representation that the $2.7 million that ARL, a company whose affairs fell outside the jurisdiction of Zimbabwe and, therefore Chinamasa and his surrogates, in exchange for a government gazette to divest and deprive ARL of the control and management of the upgrade equipment that was conveyed by Petter Trading Pty Limited as ARL’s agent, received pocket money to be used for ulterior motives in the amount of $2.7 million from CCSA.

It would please anyone interested in building a future of not only Zimbabwe but Africa that is characterized by the respect of the rule of law to take notice of the documents in the flipbook below:”

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