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A Gold Medal for the Legal Resources Centre

- Wits University

The University awarded the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) a Gold Medal for its sterling contribution to society.

The award was made to the LRC yesterday at the first ceremony of the 2017 graduations.

Receiving the award on behalf of the LRC, Janet Love, National Director of the LRC in South Africa extended her gratitude for the recognition.

I would like to convey our appreciation to the Council of Wits University for the honour and distinction bestowed upon us through this award,” she said.

Anti-apartheid stalwart , Wits alumnus and Chairman of the LRC, Advocate George Bizos, who also attended the ceremony said the recognition and award was befitting. 

”There have been fundamental changes at Wits University and I think those people who say that nothing has changed had better come to have a look. I am impressed. The Legal Resources Centre was founded by four people in the late 1970s. It became a very important organisation during the apartheid regime. It played a very important role in helping people who could not afford legal representation.”

The LRC’s contribution to society and its fight for justice for vulnerable people over the past three decades is notable. Janet Love and Advocate George Bizos at Faculty of Science graduation ceremony

It provides free legal services for vulnerable people including those who suffer discrimination by reason of race, class, gender, disability or through historical, social and economic circumstances; and those who stand up against abuse of power and corruption. 

During the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, the LRC represented several families of victims of apartheid.

It successfully opposed, amongst others, the application for amnesty relating to the torture and death in detention of Steve Biko, the deaths of the Craddock Four, the application brought by Eugene De Kock and the amnesty of the Civil Co-operation Bureau.

In land struggles, the LRC’s lawyers played a key role in land legislation drafting and policy formulation processes. The LRC pioneered the first rural land claims as well as the legal and institutional frameworks for community landholding arrangements. For example, the Mfengu and Riemvasmaak cases were initiated before 1994. While Riemvasmaak successfully secured the return of  74 000ha of state land, the Mfengu were the first community in South Africa to have their ownership of 19 white-owned farms in the Tsitsikamma restored.

The LRC continues to be at the forefront of using the law in the pursuit of justice and freedom. One of its major successes is the 11 years of work in litigating against Anglo American on behalf of a group of miners suffering from silicosis. Judgment in the Silicosis Class Action matter was handed down on 13 May 2016 by the High Court certifying classes of mineworkers involving workers from 82 mines, owned by one (or more) of the 30 named respondents. In addition, the High Court declared that any claim that has been made for general damages will be made transmissible to the claimant’s estate if he dies prior to the finalisation of the case. This decision is a landmark development in the jurisprudence of class action litigation.

”The LRC seeks to advance development, equality and dignity, enabling our Constitution to use the law to make our constitutional framework deliver on its promise to all in South Africa. Yes, we provide free legal service to vulnerable people. We do this in a manner that is intended to deliver on the promise. It is intended to ensure that those who suffer discrimination. It is to deliver an alternative to them,” says Love.

Former Wits Vice-Chancellor addresses Faculty of Science graduates

- Wits Communications

Prof. Loyiso Nongxa, former Vice-Chancellor of Wits today delivered the keynote address at the Faculty of Science graduation ceremony.

Prof. Nongxa is a mathematics scholar who held the post of Vice-Chancellor and Principal at Wits for 10 years.

He made history in 1982 when he became South Africa’s first African Rhodes Scholar to graduate from Oxford University with a doctoral degree in mathematics. Hailing from the Eastern Cape, Professor Nongxa completed his undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Fort Hare before going to Oxford.

On his return to South Africa, he lectured at the University of Lesotho and at the University of Natal before joining the University of the Western Cape (UWC), where he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. He joined Wits University two years later as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and in June 2003 was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University.

Over the past few decades, Prof. Nongxa has actively participated in transforming the higher education landscape in South Africa. He is well versed in the management of higher education institutions and has served on numerous university Councils. He served as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University and the University of Illinois and as a Visiting Researcher at the University of Colorado, the University of Hawaii, the University of Connecticut and Baylor University in the United States, amongst others.,

Prof. Nongxa serves on numerous boards and committees related to science and technology, and higher education. He is the Founding Director of the Centre for Mathematical and Computational Sciences and serves as the Chairperson of the Board of the National Research Foundation. He has also initiated several signature talent, equity and transformation programmes.

Prof. Nongxa’s research passion still lies in mathematics and he is both a member of the South African Mathematical Society and the American Mathematical Society.

Listen carefully to those who disagree with you

- Wits University

Professor Harvey Dale from New York University receives an honorary doctorate from Wits University.

Have the courage to hear – indeed, to listen carefully – to the views of those who disagree with you.

Professor Harvey DaleThis is the message that Harvey Dale, a Professor at law at New York University for more than 40 years, offered the graduands of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at the University of Witwatersrand at their graduation ceremony on Tuesday, 28 March.

Harvey, who received an honorary doctorate in law from the University, told graduands that they must “escape from the cocoon” of avoiding the views of those who disagree with them.

“In my youth, information often came from newspapers and magazines, many of which were exemplary in providing balanced and curated information,” he said. “Today, information is readily available from a multitude of sources on the internet and through social media, and it is tempting to select sources that agree with your pre-existing beliefs and biases.  

“Have the courage to hear – indeed, to listen carefully – the views of those who disagree with you, even those whose views or voices are disturbing you. So, you must have the courage to escape that cocoon, to search out and ponder ideas that may seem discordant, to be ready always to have your beliefs challenged and tested.”

The 80-year-old Dale, Dale is a recognised expert and leader in the field of nonprofit law and has advised groups in Australia, China, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom, and South Africa regarding legal issues affecting nonprofit organizations and the formulation of laws governing these organizations. Prof Dale holds a BA from Cornell University and a JD Cum Laude from Harvard Law School, and is a member of the American Academic of Arts and Sciences.

It is Professor Dale’s role in the founding and development of Atlantic Philanthropies that has had a particular impact on South Africa and the University of the Witwatersrand.

Atlantic became involved in South Africa largely on the initiative of Professor Dale who was particularly interested in how Atlantic could promote black lawyers, of which there were very few in the early 1990s, to advance the far-reaching rights of the newly-approved Constitution. To this end Atlantic funded the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University on projects relating to black lawyers, as well as training of judges on human rights issues.

Between 1991–2013, Atlantic invested $355.5 million to seek justice, promote better health care and greater health equity, and deliver services that support transformative social change, foster human rights and dignity in South Africa

Dale encouraged graduands to strive to respond to orthodoxy with gentle skepticism.

“You must struggle to avoid the great sin of intellectual certitude,” he said.

Advance the science revolution

- Wits University

Professor Robin Crewe encouraged Science graduates to advance the science revolution and inspire upcoming scientists.

"You have to realise that you are a priviledged minority from whom there are great expectations. You are expected to drive a skills revolution on the continent.

You will need to pursue the development of your career, to ensure that the natural sciences make a significant contribution in both the private sector and in public institutions."

These were the words of Professor Robin Crewe during his address to Science graduates at the Faculy of Science graduation ceremony today.

About Professor Robin Crewe

Professor Robin Crewe is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria. He is the past-president of the Academy of Science of South Africa, the former chair of the Network of African Science Academies and the past chair of the Board of the National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Professor Crewe studied at Natal University in Pietermaritzburg before proceeding to the University of Georgia, in the United States, where he completed his PhD in Entomology in 1971, with distinction.

For a period of ten years, from 1986 to 1996, Professor Crewe served as the Director of the Communication Biology Research Group in the then Zoology Department of the University of the Witwatersrand where a major focus of the work of the group was the study of honeybee chemical communication systems.

He has extensive experience in University administration including serving as the head of the Department of Zoology and as Dean of the Science Faculty at Wits, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and subsequently as Vice-Principal of the University of Pretoria for a period of 10 years. Professor Crewe has made significant contributions to professional societies and organisations.

His current research is focused on chemical communication and social organisation in honeybees and ants, particularly with respect to worker reproductive regulation. He is a member of the Social Insects Research Group which he founded.

The French Government granted him the Ordre National du Mérite with the rank of Chevalier in 2006. Professor Crewe is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, a Fellow of the World Academy of Science, a founding member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, and a fellow of the African Academy of Science. He received the Gold Medal of the Zoological Society of South Africa and the Gold Medal of the Academy of Science of South Africa for meritorious service. He is also a fellow of the Southerns Beekeeping Association.

Professor Crewe is a council member of the World Academy of Sciences and the Network of African Academies of Science and is currently the co-chair of a study called “Harnessing Science, Engineering and medicine to address Africa’s challenges” which is exploring the role that the Academies of Science in Africa can play in advising their governments and the African Union on meeting the Strategic Development Goals of the UN and the implementation of the Science Technology and Innovation Strategy of the AU. 

 

The world's problems are because of a lack of appropriate leaders

- Wits University

Former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, receives an honorary doctorate from Wits.

Former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, said a lot of the challenges that we face today is not so much because of the lack of leadership, but in the lack of appropriate leaders.

Advocate Thuli Madonsela receives her honorary doctorate in law from Wits Chancellor Dikgang Moseneke.Addressing graduands at the Graduation Ceremony for the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at the University of the Witwatersrand on Tuesday, Madonsela – who received an honorary doctorate in law from the University – said that in order for our democracy to remain functional and sustainable, the rule of law must be the default position.

“I also believe that for the rule of law and democracy to survive, we need appropriate leaders,” she said.

“Appropriate leaders understand that the burden of leadership involves an awareness that the burden of leadership includes an understanding that both what you do and say matter, and what you do not do or say matter regarding influencing others in believing and achieving something.”

Appropriate leaders know that it is not just their commands or directives that determine where others go, but also their actions. “Above all, appropriate leaders influence and inspire people to do what will take them to the future that they aspire to. They don’t pronounce one future but do something else.”

Madonsela praised late struggle stalwart, Ahmed Kathrada, who passed away on Tuesday, saying that he was an “appropriate leader”. “We lost such a leader this morning. Before democracy, he was one of the leaders who was imprisoned for asking for an inclusive South Africa, where the colour of a person was no justification for privileges or disadvantage,” she said.

“After that, he has persistently called for a South Africa that is inclusive. He has fought against racism, fought against corruption and fought against maladministration. Why I regard him as an appropriate leader, is that he is somebody that has walked the talk. When he has spoken about selfless leadership, he didn’t take the lion’s share of our limited resources for his own comfort.”

This was Madonsela’s fifth honorary doctorate, but, she said, one that holds a special place, as Wits was one of her forming grounds as a lawyer. “We do our work because we must. We give everything we do our best shot out of love,” she said.

Read the Thuli Madonsela citation

Read the Thuli Madonsela Speech

Madonsela is one of six recipients of honorary doctorate degrees in Wits’ first graduation cluster for 2017, which runs from 23 March to 31 March. The other recipients of honorary doctorate degrees are business leaders Patrice Motsepe and Adrian Gore, Professor Dale Harvey, Patricia Horn and Professor Eddie Webster. More than 5 000 students will be capped during this period.

Madonsela received her BA in Law at the University of Swaziland in 1987, after which she completed an LLB at Wits in 1990. She joined the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at Wits University as a Ford Foundation intern in 1992 ad then joined its Gender Research Project from 1993 to 1995. Madonsela was particularly involved in labour law issues and in working with women in trade unions, as well as constitutional issues. She was so involved with South African constitutional issues, that she had to forfeit a Harvard scholarship to remain engaged on these issues in the country.

In 2007, Madonsela was appointed as the full-time member of the South African Law Reform Commission, by President Thabo Mbeki. She served on the SALRC until 2009 when she was appointed as Public Protector of South Africa by President Jacob Zuma for a non-renewable seven-year term (commencing 19 October 2009). She was unanimously supported for this position by the multi-party National Assembly. At the announcement of her appointment, Zuma said that Madonsela ‘will need to ensure that this office continues to be accessible to ordinary citizens and undertakes its work without fear or favour’.

She likens her role as Public Protector to the Venda chief's paternal aunt, known as the makhadzi – a non-political figure who ‘gives the people a voice while giving the traditional leader a conscience’. In particular, it has been her willingness to ‘speak truth to power’, to defend the integrity of her Office and to hold even the most senior government officials to account that has won her the lasting respect and affection of the nation.

Wits awards Gold Medal to SECTION27

- Wits Communications

Wits has awarded the University Gold Medal to SECTION27, a public interest law centre that works towards equality and social justice in South Africa.

Advocate Adila Hassim, co-founder and the Director of Litigation at SECTION27 accepted the medal on behalf of the centre. 

Hassim holds a BA LLB from the former University of Natal in Durban. She co-founded Corruption Watch and serves on its board of directors. She is a member of the Johannesburg Bar and has also acted as a judge of the High Court.

In 1998 Hassim was awarded the Franklin Thomas Fellowship to pursue an LLM at St Louis University in the USA, which she completed with distinction in 1999. 

In 2000 she was awarded the Rev Lewers–Bradlow Foundation Fellowship to pursue her doctorate in law at the University of Notre Dame. The doctorate was conferred on her with honours in 2006. Her dissertation was entitled “The protection of social rights in South Africa: From Theory to Practice”.

As a former Constitutional Court law clerk to former Deputy Chief Justice Pius Langa as well as then Acting Justice Edwin Cameron, Advocate Hassim has continued to passionately defend constitutional rights, and socio-economic rights in particular.

Advocate Hassim has led a number of significant SECTION27 cases in the pursuit of social justice for the most vulnerable communities in our country. She led the team that represented Sonke Gender Justice and the Treatment Action Campaign in the Silicosis class action suit against the 32 gold mining companies in South Africa.

She also led the team in the Limpopo Textbooks Case that was eventually heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal in November 2015. She is currently the counsel for several families in the Life Esidimeni case. Advocate Adila Hassim accepts the University Gold Medal on behalf of SECTION27

SECTION27, launched in May 2010, grew from the AIDS Law Project (ALP), a widely celebrated research, litigation and advocacy unit at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at the University of the Witwatersrand. Closely related to the Treatment Action Campaign (which it co-founded), the ALP was at the forefront of legal strategies and social mobilisation in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Perhaps the most well-known of the ALP’s achievements is its driving role in TAC v Minister of Health, in which the Mbeki-government’s restrictive approach to the availability of antiretroviral drugs for the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV in public sector hospitals was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court. The ALP’s remarkable success as a public interest law organisation earned it many accolades and has recently been documented by Didi Moyle in the book "Speaking Truth to Power: The Story of the AIDS Law Project (Jacana Media, 2015)".

The ALP left CALS and Wits in 2007 to become an independent NGO based in Braamfontein. Initially maintaining its focus on the rights of HIV positive persons and the progressive realisation of the right to have access to health care services, the organisation soon found itself branching out to other socio-economic rights and on the strengthening of constitutional democracy more generally.  In line with this broadening focus, the organisation renamed itself SECTION27 (after the provision in the 1996 Constitution guaranteeing the right of access to health care services, food, water and social security) with a mission to function as a ‘catalyst for social justice’.

SECTION27 has made great strides towards realising this vision. It remains actively involved in the health sector, seeking to enhance the quality and affordability of health care services in the South African public and private health sectors.  Key work in this field has included monitoring the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on HIV, as well as efforts to strengthen the South African National AIDS Council. Crucially, SECTION27 has been at the forefront of efforts to strengthen the severely strained public health care delivery system, particularly (though by no means exclusively) in the Free State and the Eastern Cape provinces. 

Read the full SECTION27 citation.

Wits awards entrepreneur Adrian Gore an honorary degree

- Wits Communications

Wits awarded alumnus, Adrian Gore, founder and CEO of Discovery Group, an honorary doctorate for his entrepreneurialism and contribution to healthcare.

Gore delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management on Monday 27 March.

He paid tribute to his alma mater - Gore holds degrees in Actuarial Science from Wits - adding that he met his wife at Wits, his parents are alumni, and two of his children are Witsies.

Speaking at the ceremony, Gore outlined three attributes for success: Purpose and passion - the ability to set goals and act to reach them; a sense of urgency; and the ability to be positive.

Gore established Discovery Health at the age of 27. Under Gore’s leadership, Discovery has become a global leader in wellness behavioural change and its integration with health and insurance.

Read the Citation for Adrian Gore .

SA is still a much better country despite turmoil

-

SCA Justice Carole Lewis tells graduates that besieged as we are by bad news daily and by crisis in government, we tend to forget how bad the old days were.

Justice Carole Lewis congratualated on her Gold Medal by Professor Tawana Kupe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Advancement“You graduate with a country that is better than it was when I graduated. That may sound very strange when there is so much political and economic turmoil in South Africa where citizens have to turn to the courts to make government do its duty and to undo what government has done unlawfully.

“The fact is, however, that you do have a very powerful constitution to turn to and an independent judiciary to protect your rights,” Lewis, one of South Africa’s most senior justices in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), told graduands from the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management.

She was awarded a Gold Medal by the University today for her rich contribution to the life of the University while she was on its academic staff and her service to the institution during her subsequent and most distinguished judicial career.    

In delivering her acceptance speech, Lewis told the graduating lawyers, accountants, financiers, economists and business people that in the wake of the current political and economic crisis and the vacuum in leadership we tend to forget how life was like under apartheid.

“Today you live in a democracy where there is a free press despite pressures being put on it and where there are no oppressive laws in place – at least not yet. There are no pass laws, no influx control, no job reservation, no legitimated racism, segregation and discrimination.

“You all have the same opportunities. And despite very difficult economic circumstances that many of you have lived through as graduates you will have the capacity to prosper and make other people’s lives better. It may be difficult and there will be obstacles throughout your life but there is nothing that lawfully stands in your way as there was for many of the generations that preceded you,” she said.

Gold Medal

A Gold Medal, instituted by the Council of the University, is awarded to honour persons of outstanding distinction who have been important to the life of Wits University. Lewis has served Wits as a student, academic, lecturer, Head of the Wits School of Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law, as well as Senate member on the Wits Council, and Deputy Chair of the Wits Council.

When the South African judiciary was in need of excellent women candidates after 1994, Lewis was called to the Bench, and first served as judge on the High Court and since 2003 in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).

During her time on the SCA Lewis has written many significant judgments in areas ranging from contract and property to administrative law, and has earned the respect of her colleagues and indeed of all in the legal profession for her penetrating intellect, her incisive reasoning and the clarity, brevity and elegance of her writing.

Lewis has maintained a close association with the University since becoming a judge. Wits University in general and the Wits School of Law in particular have had the benefit of Lewis’ clear and principled thinking, wise administration and good judgment for nearly forty years.

Read the full citation.

Upskilling teaching talent in higher education

- Wits University

Seven Wits staff members graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Higher Education [PGDipE(HE)] during the Faculty of Humanities graduation ceremony.

The PGDipE(HE) was introduced in 2015, with the aim of enhancing the success of undergraduate and post graduate students through a formal professional development qualification at honours level.  It is offered as a two-year part-time qualification with four modules.

In 2015, the programme had its first intake of 15 students, all of whom were Wits staff members. From this group, 13 students successfully completed the programme and 10 completed it with distinction. The first cohort of students, who had already completed the module “Enhancing post graduate supervision” that counts as an elective, graduated in November last year.

 (Front from left) Janet Zambri, Thuli Dhlamini, Professor Karin Brodie (Head of the Wits School of Education), DrLaura Dison (PGDiPE(HE) Co-coordinator) and Jacqueline De Matos Ala. (Back from left)Agata Macgregor, David Merand and Estelle Trengove.

Dr Laura Dison, Senior Lecturer in the Wits School of Education, says that the programme will enhance learning and development in the University.

“This first PGDipE(HE) cohort is an inspiration to lecturers at the University. They have used the space within the PGDipE(HE) to reflect about critical issues for improving their teaching, assessment and curriculum development practices to enable optimal student learning in their teaching contexts.”

The programme is largely aimed at academics and has attracted other staff members outside the realm of academia such as Janet Zambri and Thuli Dhlamini, who both work at two of Wits’ libraries. 

For Zambri, a manager at the Library Client Services at the William Cullen Library, the programme spoke to one of her passions: teaching.  She is involved in the Targeting Talent Programme where she trains Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners in information literacy during the Programme’s two-week contact session in July.

Although she is trained as a librarian, she finds herself increasingly having to lecture.

“When I saw the flyer for the programme, it addressed the gaps that I saw within myself.  I wanted to be able to understand what it is that the academics expected of us when it came to curriculum and to be able to write meaningful reports, using the concepts and terminology used by the lecturing fraternity. I wanted to become a better lecturer to our students and wanted confirmation that we are in fact approaching the teaching that we were doing in a professional manner. Information Literacy is also about lifelong learning, and this is what I intend to do, continue learning,” says Zambiri.

Dhlamini, a Senior Librarian at the Wartenweiler Library, is also passionate about education. Dhlamini says that she enjoys working with students, and she hopes to pursue a masters degree next year as she has aspirations to be a lecturer one day.

The PGDipE(HE) programme is described by the students as “challenging” but rewarding because of the  knowledge and self-enrichment it provided them .

One of the graduates, Dr David Merand, Lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Academic Development Unit, says the course was perfect for his daily needs as a lecturer.

“I felt it was important to improve my knowledge and skills in the area of teaching and learning as that is a major part of my ’day job’. As this course is specifically focused on tertiary education it seemed a perfect fit for my needs,” he says.

Adapting to a changing world

“It is really impressive that colleagues take their teaching seriously and are willing to spend time and energy thinking deeply about how to research and transform their teaching, ” adds Professor Karin Brodie, Head of the School of Education. 

Brodie was also the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony. She told graduands that with the fast moving development in technology the question inevitably arises: Would computers be able to teach more effectively than humans? 

“While I’m not an expert in artificial intelligence, what I know about teaching suggests not. All of the research shows that while technology can support good teaching it cannot replace it, and it certainly cannot improve poor teaching.”

Teachers are the unsung heroes of society

- Wits University

Wits School of Education praised for shaping future teachers and educators.

“Without teachers, society will go nowhere”, Professor Tawana Kupe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Advancement, told education and arts graduands.

As acting Vice-Chancellor he presided over the graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Humanities and lauded educators for their role in shaping all of us.

“Education is the foundation of everything. Without education you can go nowhere,” he said.

This was echoed by keynote speaker Corin Mathews, lecturer in the Wits School of Education.

Mathews, who is currently reading for his PhD in Mathematics Education, lectures at the undergraduate level in the foundation phase whilst supervising postgraduate students, and is the project manager in a National Research Foundation Project focusing on Numeracy and Primary School Mathematics.

“Becoming a teacher is one of the most wonderful experiences you might have,” he said, urging the graduating teachers to be accountable, authentic and responsible.

“You get your degree so that we can create a South Africa that is good for all,” he said.

A life servicing many generations

- Wits University

An honorary doctorate for seasoned activist and lecturer, Professor Eddie Webster, who pioneered the study of labour in South Africa.

Wits University has awarded Professor Webster an Honorary Doctorate in Literature for his scholarly contributions, commitment and advancement of democracy through labour activism and nurturing several generations of leading labour sociologists.

Webster accepted the honour on 30 March at a graduation ceremony of the Faculty of Humanities, where he delivered the keynote address.

His talk, titled At the chalk face: three generations of Wits students reflected on critical moments in the country through the generations that he has taught.

The 1976 generation, the 1994 generation and the 2009 to the 2015/2016 Fees Must Fall generation have all imparted valuable lessons to him, said Webster who has Prof. Eddie Webster flanked by former students.Top row (l-r): Nonkululeko Mabaso (masters student) and Dr Sarah Mosoetsa (Director: National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences) and Dr Karl von Holdt (Director: SWOP) taught at Wits for 40 years and built an illustrious career.

Focusing on the current generation, Webster said: “At times it may seem that a generation has emerged that has disowned the past. But generational rebellion is an enduring feature of all societies; indeed it is the dynamic through which societies renew themselves and move forward.”

Webster called on the graduating class of 2017 to make real the call that has echoed through the decades from the times of Robert Sobukwe to decolonise institutions of higher learning.

“This does not mean that we drop Shakespeare from our curriculum,” he said.

Speaking directly to the graduands Webster said: “Your mission is to become the authors of the books the next generation of students read, the articles they cite, and the theories that shape their thinking.”

Institutions of higher learning in turn have a role to play by building trust and mutual respect between the generations.

“We need to make our classrooms places where our students are not only the consumers of knowledge. Teaching is an interactive process. While the teacher educates the student, the student educates the teacher too.” Speech by Professor Eddie Webster

About Prof. Edward (Eddie) Webster

Webster is currently Professor Emeritus in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at Wits which he founded over 30 years ago. He is recognised locally and internationally for his significant contribution to scholarship, especially in the field of Industrial Sociology.

He was born in March 1942 and educated Selbourne College. He holds a BA Honours and a University Education Diploma from Rhodes University, a Master’s in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University, England, a BPhil from York University, England, and PhD from Wits University.

He joined Wits in 1976 and was active in efforts to transform the University. He led the writing of the historic research report by Wits academics in 1986 titled Perspectives of Wits, which was aimed at changing the University from a bastion of white privilege to a more open and inclusive institution that would produce a new generation of black sociologists committed to serving society. He served as senate representative on the University Council for eight years and contributed to the resolution of many highly contentious issues and debates.

As Head of Department of Sociology at Wits he focused on transformation of the curriculum and staff development (particularly of young, African scholars). Webster transformed it into the leading department of sociology in Africa. He introduced a master’s by course work and an honours programme in Industrial Sociology, which has produced many of the key industrial relations scholars and activists in South Africa. Professor Webster founded, and was Director of SWOP for 24 years.

Professor Webster was rated in 2004 as the top sociologist in South Africa by the National Research Foundation (NRF) for his scholarly work. He is the author of seven books and 108 academic articles, as well as numerous research reports. His book with Rob Lambert and Andries Bezuidenhout, Grounding globalization: Labor in the age of insecurity was awarded the prestigious American Sociological Association award for the best scholarly monograph published on labour in 2008.

Humanities: An utter responsibility to the world

- Wits University

"The world is presumed to be about power, and the humanities is about talking the truth power," says Professor Dilip Menon.

Menon was talking at the third Faculty of Humanities graduation ceremony today. He told graduands that the humanities is about being responsible to society.

"When we do the humanities, we think of ourselves fundamentally as human beings in the world, acting upon the world, recreating the world, reimagining the world and transforming the world and we speak to each other about an utter responsibility that we have. We think about the humanities as being an  utter responsibility to the world, to each other as it should be, to our communities," says Menon.

Professor Dilip Menon, is a historian and Director of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa at Wits University, was educated at the universities of Delhi, Oxford and Cambridge.

He taught in India, the United Kingdom and the United States before making Wits and South Africa his home.

Professor Menon has published extensively on issues of socialism and equality, histories of the Indian Ocean and increasingly, epistemologies from the Global South. His work argues for taking seriously intellectual traditions and knowledge production from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

He insists that our universities cannot become mere factories for reproducing knowledge produced elsewhere, and that they must become the sites of a new knowledge for a new generation.

Set goals for yourself

- Wits University

Humanities graduands encouraged to belief in themselves and to set goals for themselves.

Sam Alexander, owner and Chief Executive Director of the Pacific Institute South Africa, told graduands in the Faculty of Humanities during to set goals for themselves.

"If you do not set goals for yourself, life will give you goals, and the goals that life will set you, will always be inferior to the ones you have set for yourself," he said. 

“If you do not have within you, that which is above you, you will very soon become like those who are around you. Life will not give you a free path."

Alexandra was the keynote speaker at the Faculty of Humanities graduation ceremony today. 

Prior to his current position, he served as a non-executive director of Ackermans Limited and the Pepkor Group. In the 1990s, he served as Managing Director of the Strive Foundation which established over 15 000 micro businesses in several areas in South Africa. He also spent just over two decades as the Divisional Manager for Human Resources at Liberty Life from 1971 – 1992.

He has some unique skills and talents. As far back as 1982 he was recognised as a competent toastmaster. In 1990 he was nominated as the best television panellist for interviewing executives on management issues and business initiatives. He was also named as The Star newspaper’s “Entrepreneur of the Week” in November 1992.

Alexander describes himself as a community developer who seeks to facilitate constructive change in the lives of people who deserve better.

South Africans can make this a great country

- Wits University

The responsibility to make South Africa a great country lies with its people, not the politicians says business tycoon and philanthropist Patrice Motsepe.

"The future of this country, in as much as the politicians have a profound impact on society, the future is in our hands.

"We have the capacity to make this the very best country in the world,” Motsepe said.

Motsepe was delivering his acceptance speech after Wits University this afternoon conferred on him an Honorary Doctorate in Commerce for his achievements in business and contributions to society.

"South Africa has had serious challenges in the last few years but South Africans always overcome these hurdles. We should never give up hope," Motsepe said.

He went on to urge the graduates to remember their social responsibility.

“All of us must focus on the poor, the marginalised and the unemployed because all our futures are inextricably intertwined with the future of the poor, the marginalised and the unemployed.

Since 2014, the Motsepe Foundation has donated over R18 million to assist Wits students from poor background. Approximately 100 Wits students are beneficiaries of the fund this year. This generosity also extends to other universities across South Africa.

A Wits alumnus (LLB, 1988), Motsepe is an entrepreneur who through judicious business acumen has created enterprises that positively impact countless South Africans.

In 1994, he established Future Mining, a contract mining company that cleaned gold dust from inside mine shafts. In 1997, Motsepe, Nicky Oppenheimer and Mark Shuttleworth formed Green and Partners, a venture capital firm through which Motsepe established African Rainbow Minerals. At this time Black Economic Empowerment and entrepreneurism emerged in the new South Africa.

He pioneered a system where miners’ remuneration combined wages with a profit-sharing bonus. He subsequently acquired several low-yield mine shafts and turned each into profitable enterprises. Since then he has not only built a remarkable business empire drawing many business accolades, but has also generously contributed to the lives of the poor, youth and communities.

Since 2014, the Motsepe Foundation has donated over R18 million to assist students from poor backgrounds at the University of the Witwatersrand. Approximately 100 Wits students are beneficiaries of the fund this year. This generosity also extends to other universities across South Africa.

Across the border, the Foundation donated $1 million to the Ebola Fund in the Republic of Guinea to aid efforts to curb the deadly Ebola virus that affected a number of West African countries including Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“His philanthropy has made a difference in the lives of a diversity of local communities and makes a contribution to changing lives. As a leading business person he has created wealth not only for himself which he shares with communities in South Africa and Africa,” reads the citation presented before he was capped by Wits Chancellor, Justice Dikgang Moseneke.

“Motsepe represents some of the best achievers that post-apartheid South Africa has produced in the business and economic spheres of human endeavour. His success and the respect he commands in South Africa and globally is testimony to the innovation, creativity and the ability needed to transcend the limitations of what could be debilitating business and economic environments in Africa.”

Thanking the University, Motsepe said he was humbled by the honour adding that there are many deserving recipients worthy of the recognition bestowed upon him by the University.

Invest in professional development

- Wits University

Distinguished engineer and author of Pyrosim software, Dr Rodney Jones, shared his passion for continued professional development with Witsies.

Distinguished engineer and author of Pyrosim software, Dr Rodney Jones, was the guest speaker at the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment’s graduation ceremony on the morning of 31 March 2017.

Jones, a former president and an Honorary Life Fellow of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, spoke about his passion for life learning and the importance of joining a professional body to support one’s career development.

About Dr Rodney Jones

Dr Rodney Jones is the Immediate Past President and an Honorary Life Fellow of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, a professional institute that looks after the interests of almost 5 000 mining and metallurgical engineers.

Jones, a registered professional engineer, has worked for over 30 years in the Pyrometallurgy Division at Mintek where he is currently a Senior Technical Specialist. A Wits alumnus, Jones holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Wits, and also obtained his Masters and PhD qualifications in metallurgical engineering from this University. He also holds a BA degree in logic and philosophy from UNISA.

His key research interests are in the field of computer simulation and the design of high-temperature processes and the development of thermodynamic software. He is the author of Pyrosim software, for the steady-state simulation of pyrometallurgical processes.  This software has been used in 22 countries around the world. Jones has also been part of the team that developed processes for large-scale industrial applications that includes cobalt recovery from slags in Zambia, battery recycling in Switzerland and ferronickel production in New Caledonia. 

He is one of the inventors of the internationally patented ConRoast process – an environmentally friendly way of recovering platinum group metals from ores that are otherwise very difficult to process.

An NRF Internationally Acclaimed Researcher, he is a member of the Board of Trustees for OneMine.org, and serves as the Chairman of the International Committee on Ferro-Alloys. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the South African Institute of Chemical Engineers and a Member of the Royal Society of South Africa. He serves the Engineering Council of South Africa as a member of the Professional Advisory Committee for Metallurgical Engineering. 

Dr Jones has served as a Visiting Professor at the Center for Pyrometallurgy at the University of Missouri-Rolla and has also lectured at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

Be pioneers of African heritage restoration

- Wits University

Music icon Hugh Masekela tells graduands to "go out there and kick some booty’.

Wits University today conferred on honorary Doctor of Music degree on Bra Hugh Masekela in the Great Hall, the same stage where he performed as a 19-year-old member of the orchestra in the opening concert of Todd Matshikiza’s landmark jazz opera King Kong.

“I am deeply honoured and honesty humbled,” Masekela said in his acceptance speech.

Wits University confers an honorary Doctorate of Medicine on music legend Hugh Masekela. © Wits University

He implored graduands to become the “new pioneers of African heritage restoration at a time when we seem to be leaning on the brink of being wholly swallowed by most Western culture and several Middle Eastern and Eastern civilizations to the exclusion of our own traditions”.

Masekela says there are innumerable alarming reasons that African society needs to heed for the revival of African heritage restoration, such as the gradual demise of the mother tongue in almost all African countries. “A decade or two from now, African society will be the first in human history to have abandoned its native tongues in preference to those manipulated by colonial rule if we do not soon reinstitute our own languages back into our homes, schools and social interaction with each other.”

He told graduands to learn and teach “our own history” instead of the European education that still consumes us – something that has left us convinced that our heritage is “backward, savage, pagan, primitive, barbaric and uncivilized”.

“We have long relegated our magnificent vernacular literature to the dust and insect-infested floors of crumbling old warehouses in favour of imported writings, hip hop, rap and other forms of trending fashions that distance us as far as possible from our rich traditional legacy.

“We need to study, learn, and teach our traditional music, dance, oral literature and more in our own academies and future educational institutions where we can revive and redevelop what has been lost from the positive content of our glorious history without abandoning the best of what the West has brought to our otherwise void-encrusted lives,” he said.

Masekela also called for a return to the trader society, the great manufacturing civilization Africa once was, and to “cease being consumer fodder”.

“The time is now for Africans to rediscover and regenerate the existing wealth of their artisanship and original design talents and skills so that we can begin to manufacture furniture, linens, cutlery, crockery, bedding, clothing, interior décor materials and fabrics and other household goods for retail and export not exclusive of traditional architecture and construction to replace the frenzied purchase of commodities from other lands.”

“Go out there and kick some booty,” he said resulting in a thundering applause from graduands.

Citation

Hugh Ramopolo Masekela, elder statesman of South African jazz and popular music, was born in 1939 in Kwaguqa in the then Witbank. It was there that he has recalled being exposed to the stories told by migrant mine workers as they longed for home, and which were later to be articulated in one of his signature compositions, “Stimela”.

Both of his parents were social workers, and his father had ambitions as an artist, sculptor, and architect. He received his first music lessons on the piano in his parents’ house, which was where he also first listened to jazz records.

After his family moved to Johannesburg, Masekela was sent to school at St. Peter’s Seminary, which was directed by the noted British cleric and activist Bishop Trevor Huddleston. Still a teenager, Masekela saw the Kirk Douglas film about Bix Beiderbecke, Young Man With A Horn, which inspired him to take up the trumpet. Huddleston provided an instrument, and he joined his first ensemble, the Huddleston Jazz Band, at St. Peter’s. Huddleston later famously arranged for Louis Armstrong to send Masekela a trumpet in 1955.

After Huddleston’s expulsion from South Africa for his anti-apartheid activism in 1956, and the closing of St. Peter’s Seminary under the Bantu Education Act, Masekela played in various studio recording groups and performance ensembles, including the African Jazz Revue, a prominent traveling stage show that featured the young Miriam Makeba and other rising South African artists. He was a member of the orchestra in Todd Matshikiza’s landmark jazz opera King Kong, which opened on the stage of the Wits Great Hall on 2 February 1959.

The success of the venture enabled the young Masekela to move to Cape Town, where he joined the pioneering if short-lived group The Jazz Epistles. The group cultivated a modernist, bebop-oriented style, documented on a single historic recording in 1960, which came to be termed “township bop,” a designation that would subsequently applied to Masekela’s work in the U.S.

In 1959, Masekela also participated in a recording project with visiting American pianist John Mehegan, professor of music at the Julliard (later Manhattan) School of Music. The following year, Masekela travelled to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music, but soon afterwards, with the encouragement of Makeba, he transferred to the Manhattan School of Music in New York, with the support of Mehegan, Harry Belafonte, and by some accounts Dizzy Gillespie. His first solo album, Trumpet Africaine, was released in the U.S. in 1961, and he reportedly served as musical director on Makeba’s second album recorded there.

Masekela’s close association with Makeba (the two were married between 1964 and 1966) influenced his own career, and his work of the early 1960s substantially paralleled the path pursued by Makeba in reassessing and foregrounding the African elements of his musical identity. The presence of South Africa’s jazz exiles on the U.S. scene led to artistic collaborations and lifelong ties of political solidarity with several leading African American musicians; Masekela soon counted among his friends such figures in the jazz pantheon as the said Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, JJ Johnson, and Cannonball Adderly.

In the era of Civil Rights activism, the resonances between struggles for freedom on both sides of the Atlantic were clear to Masekela and his peers. At a time of harsh political repression within South Africa, Makeba, Masekela and other exiled artists used their rising celebrity in the United States to draw attention to conditions back home, prefiguring subsequent cultural boycotts and international campaigns.

As social and political upheavals unfolded across the 1960s within the U.S., alongside the wave of independence sweeping across African and much of the former colonial world, popular aesthetics and politics often informed one another. Masekela’s work inclined away from the avant garde jazz experimentalism of the time in more popular directions, moving beyond the boundaries of what was recognized as jazz. After the dissolution of his marriage with Makeba, his move to the West Coast of the U.S. coincided with the era of so-called counter-cultural “flower power” and the emergence of a distinct, ethnically-oriented crossover between the jazz, R&B, Latin, and mainstream popular music markets. It was in this milieu that he found a niche and considerable commercial success. But political activism and consciousness raising was almost always present as well; in 1966, he was heard by an audience of over ten thousand at the Watts Jazz Festival in Los Angeles, an event that marked the uprising that had taken place in this predominantly black neighbourhood a year previously.

In 1968, Masekela’s rendition of a tune by a Zambian composer, “Grazing in the Grass,” reached number one on the American R&B and pop charts, together with a celebrated appearance at the Monterey pop festival. Throughout the ensuing two decades, he occupied a position within the U.S. that mediated Makeba’s literal return to Africa with those elements of African-American popular music most closely associated with black liberation and pan-diasporic consciousness: soul, R&B, funk, salsa, reggae, and other African diasporic music, a repertoire that anticipated the hybrid World Music florescence of the late 1980s.

From the late 1960s onwards, Masekela maintained ties with South African and other artist-activists of the African diaspora. Later he based himself closer to home, in Botswana, though his activism against apartheid kept him in exile. By the late 1980s, his participation in Paul Simon’s Graceland Tour attested to his status as a global musical icon and activist, and he famously composed one of the most celebrated anthems of the global movement to free Nelson Mandela.

After returning home from exile as South Africa transitioned towards a post-apartheid dispensation, with a landmark tour titled “Sekunjalo,” Masekela remained active as a soloist, bandleader, producer and activist, continuing to work with a wide range of musicians, notably including younger musicians with whom he co-directed and produced. He has remained an astute and critical commentator on the sociopolitical situation in South Africa. He has also continued to use his celebrity to draw attention to social issues.

Hugh Masekela has accumulated a lifetime’s worth of recognition for his artistic and activist contributions, from heads of states to his ardent grassroots fans. Prominent among his achievements are his being granted a Gold Medal of the Order of Ikhamanga in 2010 by the South African Presidency, and having March 18 proclaimed Hugh Masekela Day in the US Virgin Islands.

In motivating for the University of the Witwatersrand to applaud Masekela’s achievement through bestowing his sixth honorary doctorate on him, it would be relevant to highlight the personal, artistic and political journey he made since being a nineteen-year-old trumpeter in the band of the jazz opera King Kong on the stage of the Great Hall in 1959 to his status as a globally recognised, activist artist. His music has consistently reached beyond apartheid categories and firmly located itself within pan-African and pan-diasporic frames of reference.

His work has also resonated beyond the commercial success that he has achieved and has reached audiences around the world while aligning itself with struggles for political and human rights.

Hugh Masekela’s career is testimony to the capacity of music to animate the social and the political imagination, alongside its aesthetic potency.

The resilience with which he has pursued this in a career spanning an extraordinary seven decades merits academic recognition and a standing ovation and it is therefore befitting that the University if the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg awards an honorary doctorate degree to Hugh Ramopolo Masekela.

Teaching SA history is rewarding

- Wits University

Teaching and researching South African history is a privilege and an obligation.

A specialist in the history of South Africa, Professor Shula Marks, said historians need to continue to bring a critical lens in the ongoing project to decolonise African history, a project which began in the 1960s when many of the former colonies attained their independence.

Liberated states need liberated histories, she said, and the recent turmoil in universities in South Africa and in other parts of the worlds is an indication of the dissatisfaction with history and the burden of history.

Marks was speaking at Wits University shortly after the University conferred on her a Doctor of Literature (honoris causa) for her contribution to South African history.

Addressing a diverse audience at the graduation ceremony for the Faculty of Humanities, Marks impressed upon the guests the importance of history and the difficult yet attainable challenge of writing a contested history.

On the writing and teaching of South African history, Marks said it is possible to “write a history for so uneasy a population, for people who have only fragments of a shared past, and for whom that shared past is too often one of conflict, exploitation and misunderstanding.”

“It seems that one way of doing this is writing about the lives of people in their social, economic and political context. Thinking about a life in history opens its own way of going forward to recapture our pasts and inform our futures as they impinge in one another in this complex part of the world.”

True to her profession which is often underestimated, Marks argued that “history provides good training for a variety of professions that demand critical intelligence”.

On her illustrious career, Marks said: “Teaching and researching South African history has been both a privilege and an obligation over many years. Not least because of the way it has opened up new ways of thinking over my working life.”

Professor Shula Marks with Professor Tawana Kupe just before Wits conferred an honorary doctorate on Prof. Marks.

Citation

Professor Shula Eta Marks was born on 14 October 1936 in Cape Town and educated at the University of Cape Town where she attained a Bachelor of Arts and graduated at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies with a doctorate in History.

Shula Marks is Emeritus Fellow and Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London and holds a joint appointment with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She is an eminent historian of Africa and an activist for human rights and the rights of refugees. A specialist in the history of South Africa, her contribution to work critical of the Apartheid state in the 1970s to 1990s is highly recognised, specifically her work on Apartheid and Health, as well as her work supporting research into and treatment for people living with HIV.

Professor Marks founded a world-renowned interdisciplinary graduate seminar on the Societies of Southern Africa that established and shaped a field of knowledge about southern Africa's pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial history and society, through the period of colonial liberation in Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe and the post-Apartheid era in South Africa. This seminar, and the theoretical insights and empirical research generated by its members, directed and shaped debate and published scholarship on the society and history of these regions, and the continent, from the 1970s into the present.

Her first publication, in 1963, examined Harriet Colenso's lifelong struggle to defend the sovereignty of the Zulu Royal house (a theme that would possess her student Jeff Guy) in the (then) newly established Journal of African History.  Much of her work since has focused on the cultural and political history of KwaZulu-Natal. 

Her first book, Reluctant Rebellion, applied many of the insights and analytical techniques of the Africanist history that had been publicised by the renowned historian Terence Ranger to the Bambatha rebellion. In Ambiguities of Dependence she broke significantly with the simple political lines of that earlier work, exploring the compromises and paradoxes of the Royal Zulu House and early ANC politics in Natal. Yet she remained attentive to the cultural and psychological work of race in our society and in Not Either an Experimental Doll – a study of the correspondence of three South African women, that has become a key text in the global development of gender history – she produced an eloquent and powerful analysis of the ways in which racial paternalism, dependence and inequality hobbled the precocious forms of feminist struggle. She returns to these themes of the contradictions between gender, race and class in Divided Sisterhood, her history of South African nursing.

A founder member of the Journal of Southern African Studies, Professor Marks has also been a prodigious supervisor – a list published in that journal in 2001 recorded no less than forty doctoral theses, including many students who have charted distinctive subfields in the humanities and social-sciences, like Elaine Unterhalter, Jeff Guy and Brian Willan. The impact Professor Marks has had on shaping the thinking and careers of current and former University of Witwatersrand academics is particularly impressive.  Prominent amongst current and former Wits academics supervised by Professor Marks are: Michelle Adler, Philip Bonner, Peter Delius, Tim Keegan and Sheila Meintjes, truly a meaningful life's work and a singular contribution to the global reputation of this university. She continues to supervise doctoral dissertations into the present.

Even more important for this university was Professor Marks role as the editor of three volumes of essays published by Longman: Economy and Society in Pre-Industrial South Africa (1980), Industrialisation and Social Change (1982) and The politics of race, class and nationalism (1987).
These books bridged the gap between the seminars in the United Kingdom and the research being undertaken in South Africa, especially at this institution. Each volume presented a common set of theoretical and analytical interests that highlighted the importance and power (and productivity) of the research that was increasingly being undertaken by researchers here. And they had powerful effects nationally and on the study of the history of this continent.

Over the last five decades Professor Marks has published very widely indeed – five monographs, 14 edited volumes, and dozens of articles and chapters. For those who care about academic metrics, Google reports that she has an h-index of 29. Her mentoring and publication thematics span the archaeology and the prehistory of the sub-continent, African women's history, the history of medicine and health under Apartheid, and the history of race, class and gender in twentieth century South Africa, and the history of ethnicity and political movements.  

Professor Marks has held many visiting positions and lectured widely on southern African history and given numerous named and keynote lectures including: The Creighton Lecture; The Raleigh Lecture (for the British Academy); and The Douglas Southall Freeman lectures at the University of Virginia.

As an important part of this combination of political and scholarly works Professor Marks was Chair of the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (now known as the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics). In 2011, working with Paula Wintour and Paul Weindling, she produced an edited volume of the Proceedings of the British Academy on the history of academic refugees in Britain. As a member of the Canon Collins Trust she has worked tirelessly to bring academic bursaries and scholarships as well as legal aid to generations of graduate students from Southern Africa.

Professor Marks has lived a life of exemplary scholarship.  She was the second woman to be elected to the Modern History section of The British Academy, and, in recognition of her life's work, she was awarded an Order of the British Empire as well as the Distinguished Africanist Award.

Professor Marks holds three honorary doctorates from the University of Cape Town, the then University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu Natal) and the University of Johannesburg.

It is therefore befitting that the University of the Witwatersrand, awards Shula Eta Marks an Honorary Doctorate Degree for her distinguished scholarship, her mentorship and support for generations of students of Africa and as an outstanding public figure for work that advances human rights and justice

Skills, education and unity – not populism – is what South Africa needs right now

- Wits University

Investec CEO, Stephen Koseff, tells graduands that together, under the banner of a common purpose, there are no limits to what South Africa can achieve.

South Africans need to work together and find a new social pact that transcends ideologies and backgrounds and unite under a common goal to tackle the problems that we are facing today, and will be facing in the future.

This is the message that Stephen Koseff, CEO of Investec Bank, gave to the July 2017 Graduands of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, when he addressed them on Thursday.

Koseff, a Wits University Alumni, was honoured with an Honorary Doctorate in Commerce degree at this graduation.

Speaking about the current challenges South Africa faces, Koseff said today’s students have a huge role to play.

“I urge you to understand that populism is never going to work for us. Education and developing skills are going to work for us. You guys have developed skills. You can help our society make a massive difference,” he said.
Koseff said South Africa is currently at a critical junction, but that, united, we can overcome our challenges.

“Together, under the banner of a common purpose, there are no limits to what South Africa can achieve,” he said.

“There is an urgent need for a new social pact, that transcends ideologies and backgrounds. We need to rebuild trust. Let’s not fall prey to the negative narratives that are designed to divert attention from the real issues. Instead, let’s rather reframe the challenges facing our country within the lens of shared values. We must unite under a common goal and tackle the problem with innovative thinking and bold and pragmatic leadership. We must agree, simultaneously, to grow and transform our economy.”

Referring to the current climate of corruption and distrust between politics, business and the society, Koseff said that he was worried about some players making business the scape-goat for all the ills of our society.

“Particularly slogans like “White Monopoly Capital”, “Fake News” and “alternate naratives”. They are actually used as a ruse and a distraction to enable rent-seeking and looting,” he said.

“Business is not the enemy, it is the key to creating jobs and enabling transformation. It is for this reason that business, labour and government must partner to create the right kind of growth, to achieve the desired outcomes.”

We need to create a deracialised, vibrant, diverse and globally competitive economy that enables all South Africans to have the opportunity to participate in the economy and earn a sustainable livelihood.

“Some will call this inclusive growth, others prefer the term “radical economic transformation” – not a term that I really like, but I attempted to redefine it, because this means different things to different people. Ultimately the task is to ensure “accelerated inclusive growth” – one that supports transformation and job creation. That is what I believe is necessary to uplift the majority of our people out of poverty.”

Koseff said that, as a society, we need to build on our successes.                                            

“We have a strong and vibrant democracy, a free media, disciplined macro-economic policy an independent judiciary and central bank (I hope, after yesterday’s statement), which has done an admirable job in keeping inflation in check … We need a vision well beyond 2017 and 2019 that allows us to build new skills to face current and future challenges.”

Citation

Stephen Koseff, one of three siblings, was born to his parents Ralph and Lulu Koseff on 23 July 1951. Stephen grew up and attended school in Benoni, in 1968 he matriculated from Benoni High School. He holds a BCom (1972), Postgraduate degree in Accountancy (1974) from Wits as well as a Higher Diploma in Business Data Processing.

He completed his Board examination with the then Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB). After completing his articles in 1975 at Schwartz & Fine (which later became Arthur Anderson Inc), he qualified as a Chartered Accountant (SA). From 1976-1980, Stephen worked as a Professional Assistant at Alex Bailie Koseff and Wheeler, a company at which his father was a partner.

In 1980, Koseff took up employment at Investec and so began a journey that 35 years later still continues. From 1980 through to 1983, he served as the Chief Accounting Officer and as General Manager of Banking until 1985. He was also the general manager of Treasury and the Merchant Banking divisions. In 1988, he was promoted to Managing Director of Investec, a position he held for 8 years.

In 1996, Stephen was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Investec a position he still holds today. He has served the bank for thirty five years, a feat not achieved by many other business men in the modern business world. He is described as possessing an unparalleled speed for appreciating complexity, having the ability to cut to the quick of a problem and solve issues almost immediately. This has set him apart as a truly gifted banker an out of the ordinary thought leader. His passion is Investec and employees and colleagues describe his devotion to the business as inspirational. He has dedicated his life’s work to building and sustaining a global bank.

His current directorships include being the director of Investec Bank Limited, Investec Bank (UK) Limited, Investec Limited and Investec Plc. He has served on many prominent boards and associations and he is a Member of Financial Markets Advisory Board, Chairman of Merchant Bankers’ Association, and Chairman and member of the South African Banking Association. He is a former non-executive director of The Bidvest Group and a former Merchant Bankers Association representative on Johannesburg Stock Exchange Research Committee.

Koseff has been the recipient of many prestigious awards including being awarded the Jewish Businessman of the Year in 1990, and being voted as one of the Top 5 Businessmen for the Year 1992. He was awarded the Business Day Business Achievement Award in 1996 and 1997. In 2003, he won the ABSA Achievement Award for Listed Companies and in the same year was voted the Moneyweb CEO of the year. In 2004 and 2005 he was a finalist for the Moneyweb CEO of the year competition.

In 2006 Stephen received the GIBS Social Entrepreneurship award in the "benefactor" category” and in 2009 he received the Sunday Times Lifetime Achievers Award. In 2013, Stephen was the Southern Africa Master Entrepreneur Winner at the EY World Entrepreneur Awards.

Koseff is passionate about skills development, education and the right of every child to sound schooling; to this end he has engaged on multiple platforms to build, enhance and propel South Africa’s primary and secondary education environments. He dedicates his time to his children and grandchildren, visiting Australia often.

In recognition of his contributions to society it is befitting that the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg awards Stephen Koseff an honorary doctorate degree.

The courage under fire

- Wits University

Accomplished business leader, Jabulane Mabuza commended the Class of 2016 for their tenacious spirit in defying the odds.

“You did it against all odds. Yours is a good example of ’courage under fire’, he told them.

He spoke during the Faculty of Engineering graduation ceremony on 5 July 2017 where the University bestowed upon him an honorary Doctorate in Commerce in recognition of his leadership in business in the cause of creating a successful economy that creates a better life for all.

Mabuza is passionate about education, made a name for himself as an astute leading business man from humble beginnings as a taxi driver.

He used his own life story to inspire graduands to be active citizens in the country and inspire change in the country.

Thirty odd years ago, Mabuza was a hopeful young law student in the University of Limpopo (Turfloop) but only for a very short while. Due to a lack of funding he was forced to give up his dream of studying law and became a taxi driver to survive.

“It is my wish that there be no repeat of the “Fees must fall” campaign like we experienced in 2016. I hope the lessons learnt will help us circumvent a repeat of the violence and disruptions we experienced.”

“In you lie the answers and responses not to the threats but the opportunities that result from the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In you lie the answers of an incorruptible bureaucracy to replace the patronage approach that is hampering delivery of services in ways that obstructs participation by the full citizenry in the economy. In you lie the entrepreneurs eager to innovate and fill the gaps in the market. In you lie the social entrepreneurs committed to uplifting communities doing God’s work in the not-for-profit sector. You however need to take your rightful place. It is not going to be given to you, especially when the levels of greed are at an all-time high.”

His ordeal of not being able to complete his studies because of financial constraints encouraged him to hone his life skills and business acumen while harnessing his entrepreneurial edge.

“It was a gut-wrenching decision at the time but it turned out ok, and not just because I ended up with this honorary degree in the end,” he says.  “I would not be here today receiving this great honour had it not been for the opportunities provided by this nation that has allowed me to serve.”

He extended his gratitude to his family, friends business partners and mentors who witnessed him being capped, saying they “saw a bright spark” in him and took a chance on him.  

He also encouraged graduates to do the same for others like him who had latent potential and to make a positive and meaningful impact in the lives of others and the country.

“As you launch into your careers, please don’t get weighed down by populism or by pessimism. Care about people. And make your impact on our country and the world a positive one. Those values, of ’please‘, ’I am sorry‘ and ’thanks‘ will see you through,” he said.

Citation

Jabulane (Jabu) Mabuza was born on 04 February 1958 in Waterval Boven, Mpumalanga. He was educated in Mpumalanga province and in Durban.

His humble beginnings was a taxi driver in Johannesburg rising to become a leading business man and a key player in strategies in 2015/2016 to avert a ratings downgrade that would have long lasting damages to South Africa’s economy. 

Mabuza retired from the position of Group Chief Executive of Tsogo Sun Holdings Ltd, effective in 2011 and as Deputy Chairman: Tsogo Sun Holdings in 2014. Before his retirement he held a number of directorships within the Southern Sun and Tsogo Sun Groups. He served on the Board of South African Tourism for nine years as its Chairman, until 2012. Mabuza is the current Chairman of the Casino Association of South Africa (CASA), President of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Chairman of Telkom SA SOC Limited and was recently appointed as Executive Chairman of Sphere Holdings.

Mabuza currently serves on Boards of other companies across several economic and industry sectors in South Africa.

Outside of our South African borders, he served on the boards in Tanzania and Kenya. He is currently serving on the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in Washington DC as a Board Member and on the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in England – UK as an Executive Committee Member, Chairman of the Regional Business Council for World Economic Forum (WEF).

Mabuza has presented several papers in Southern Africa, the United Kingdom, United States of America and Europe on Black Economic Empowerment Investment in South Africa, small and medium Enterprise development and the role of business in transition.

Mabuza has received a number of accolades and awards. In 1997 he was recognised Champion of Black Economic Empowerment - Pioneer’s Award by the Black Management Forum (BMF). He was the recipient of the 2004 Impumelelo, Top 300 Empowerment Awards as the Top Black Business Personality of the Year, nominated by the Black Business Council (BBC) for his contribution to transformation, job creation, and the economy and as a role model for Black Economic Empowerment.

In 2009, Mabuza was the recipient of the Onkgopotse Tiro Excellence Award in Business, in recognition of his leadership and excellence in business. This award is given to former students of the University of South Africa who have through their successful business endeavours, inspired many generations of aspirant entrepreneurs that the UNISA Leadership Institute (UNIL) and other institutions produce.

In 2011, the Black Business Executive Circle (BBEC) presented Mabuza with the Chairman’s Award for “Black Business Leaders at the Pinnacle of Thought Leadership".

In 2013, the Minister of Tourism presented Mabuza with the Lifetime Achiever Award – The Lilizela Tourism Award, for his exceptional contribution to the tourism sector. Mabuza has played a leadership role in Tsogo Sun, which he has helped to build into one of the top gaming and hotel groups in the world, inter alia as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and today, as deputy chairperson of the board.

In order to broaden his executive skills, Mabuza attended several courses namely, the Effective Leadership Program from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA, August 1996 and the Executive Development Program: Financial Statement Analysis from the John E Anderson Graduate School of Management at University of California, Los Angeles, October 1999.

Despite his humble beginnings professionally as a Taxi-driver, Mabuza has become a very influential business leader in South Africa. Apart from his long list of Board positions and Directorships, he has especially become known as a “Shapeshifter” in the last year, for his role in helping unite government and business in the aftermath of firing of the Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene and in the face of a ratings down-grade. Government and business seemed bent on a path of confrontation. Behind the scenes and on the public stage, Mabuza worked tirelessly with other leaders to help the country rise above those ashes then. South Africans are known for their strange ability to pull together in times of crisis, but it takes great leadership to drive and to achieve this. Moneyweb acknowledges this role, citing him as having taken “a primary leadership role to drive business engagement” as the chairman of Business Unity South Africa.

Be brave and have no regrets

- Wits University

Prof.Helen Rees, internationally renowned expert in HIV prevention, vaccines, and reproductive health urged graduands to be fearless and “do the right thing."

“Be brave, take the right decisions and make a decision that will leave you without regrets,” she said.

Rees was addressing graduands at the Faculty of Health Sciences graduation ceremony on 5 July 2017.

During her early days Rees was a doctor who advocated for the rights of patients and health care workers.

She related her own story of bravery, which took place in 1986 during the Six-Day War in Alexandra informal settlement, north of Johannesburg. Rees was a pregnant medical doctor working at the Alexandra clinic, the township’s only health facility then. 

“When the military surrounded the clinic with Casspirs and heavy weapons, demanding that we hand over our injured patients and the young people who had sought refuge in the clinic, I remember using my then bigger frame. I was pregnant, hidden under a big blood covered apron, to block the entrance of soldiers into the emergency ward of the clinic. I very optimistically waved my NAMDA [National Medical and Dental Association] booklet in the face of a senior army sergeant and I said, ‘My patients have rights, we as health care workers have rights’. But we lost the argument, the youths were taken.”

Rees acknowledges that they had failed in protecting and healing those young people they had hidden, but she learnt from this failure.

“Sometimes in life we fail, and you will also have failures, but some of the biggest lessons we learn from our failures, come from our failures. The brave man is not he who does not fail, but he who conquers that failure.”

She told the Health Sciences graduands that their chosen careers are those that aim to improve people’s health, making the graduands’ skills pivotal in the health sector across the globe.

“South Africa has challenges. South Sudan and our region have challenges. You will be working in a world of global uncertainties. All of your skills are needed to improve the health of people world-wide,” she said.

Rees, an alumna of Cambridge University and Harvard Business School urged the graduands to continue learning and to live by the Wits motto:

“As you move into the next phase of your lives, remember Wits University’s motto, Scientia et Labore, which means knowledge and work.  So continue to grow your knowledge. Learning is never over. Be brave, and choose to do the right thing. Don’t be afraid of failure as your greatest lessons might come from this. Be an optimist and look for opportunity in adversity. Work in teams of fabulous people as it will take you further. Be a giver and do the five-minute favour. Work hard, and be sure to have fun on the way. Use your lives, your laughs, you labour, to create your own wisdom. You have many years ahead of you to do this.”

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