UCT Council Candidate Standing for Academic Freedom


Voting for the University of Cape Town (UCT) Council ends on Thursday, 21 May 2020. If you are eligible to cast your vote, do so as soon as possible.

There are eight candidates standing for four Council seats: Moses Chiropa, Marlene Le Roux, Landa Mabenge, Shuaib Ismail Manjra, Kudupane Aaron Msipha, Rendani Nefale, Dumisa Ntsebeza, and Christopher L (Kit) Vaughan.

Only one of the candidates, however, has made academic freedom a pillar of his bid for the Council: Dr Christopher Vaughn. Vaughn was nominated by, among others, veteran Rational Standard writer Prof Tim Crowe. Frequent readers of Crowe will be aware of the precarious climate surrounding academic freedom at UCT.

According to Vaughn:

“In 1953 – the year I was born – Dr Thomas Davie, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT), addressed students and stated that a university’s academic freedom involves ‘four essential freedoms: to determine for itself on academic grounds who may teach, what may be taught, how it shall be taught and who may be admitted to study.’ I fully subscribe to these principles which are as relevant today as they were when Davie delivered them 67 years ago.

Like many members of Convocation, I have been shocked – and appalled – at the events taking place at UCT over the past few years: the invasion of a Council meeting with threats of ‘one settler, one bullet’; the fire-bombing of the vice-chancellor’s office; the indiscriminate burning of works of art; and, finally, the tragic death of the Dean of Health Sciences. I served two terms as a Senate-nominated member of Council from 2002 to 2009, and, if elected to serve again in 2020, I will endeavour to uphold the legacy of TB Davie.”

Vaughn holds a doctorate in biomedical engineering from UCT.

How you vote

According to UCT:

“Email notifications have been sent to those members of Convocation for whom the UCT Development and Alumni Department (DAD) has email addresses. If you do not have a registered email address with the DAD, please email [email protected] and request a username and password to participate in the electronic ballot. Once verified, you will receive a username, password and voting instructions by email.

Go to the eBallot login page.

Voting opens at 16:00 SAST on 7 May and will close at 16:00 SAST on 21 May 2020. Members of Convocation may vote for up to four candidates.”

I encourage eligible voters to do so speedily! Were I eligible, I also know who I would have voted for. Academic freedom is as important as ever in South Africa today, and we need to put as many voices who favour it in the right places.