Thuletho Zwane and Dineo Bendile
The sudden resignation by yet another dean has left Wits staff and students reeling. Questions are now being asked about what is going on: are they real resignations or have they been pushed?
Dean of Commerce, Law and Management Prof Nqosa Mahao’s abrupt resignation on Tuesday left some staff members “puzzled”.Academic Staff Association of Wits University president, Prof David Dickinson, said there were rumours regarding the departure of Mahao and said “the notice issued yesterday [on Tuesday] comes without warning and will therefore inevitably disrupt the smooth running of the faculty.”
Members of the student community expressed concern at the high turnover of senior staff members at the university recently – within the last month. Mahao’s resignation follows the recent resignation of the director of the Wits Business School, Prof Wendy Ngoma, who resigned in August.[pullquote]”I don’t want to say racism is an issue, the VC [Habib] could be trying to remedy those issues, but it seems suspect that all the deans that have been dealt with are black.”[/pullquote]
Director of Transformation, Nazeema Mohamed, resigned last month and the dean of students, Prem Coopoo, has been placed on special leave with no indication of when she will return. No official reasons have been given.
The Dean of Health Sciences Professor Ahmed Wadee left his post after being “recalled” by the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). It is believed that Wadee has been suspended.
SRC President Sibulele Mgudlwa said it was still too early for the new vice chancellor, Prof Adam Habib, to be restructuring senior posts. Habib has been in office for less than 200 days – two months officially and five months unofficially.“You can’t be talking about performance if you haven’t sat down the dean and said ‘these are the performance targets I expect from you, I am giving you until December to implement those changes,’” Mgudlwa said.
Concerns around the Vice Chancellor’s “vision”
He added that the reshuffling could be Habib’s way of asserting his new-found power. He felt that even though poor performance, instability and the high turnover of staff could have contributed to Mahao’s resignation, Mgudlwa claimed there was a racial pattern regarding the resignations. “I don’t want to say racism is an issue, the VC [Habib] could be trying to remedy those issues, but it seems suspect that all the deans that have been dealt with are black,” Mgudlwa said.
In an email to Wits Vuvuzela, Habib dismissed these claims and said “none of my decisions are made on the basis of race”. He added that “some of the appointments currently being made are of black and/or African staff.” Habib said he was paid to implement the vision and plans of the university.“If I cannot make firm decisions after five months of engagements, then I am not up to doing the job.”
Wits Vuvuzela. Exclusive: Wits loses another Dean. September 17, 2013
Wits Vuvuzela. No answers on Coopoo September 13, 2013
Wits Vuvuzela. Wits Business School journey back to #1. August 28, 2013