Transparency trouble for anonymous R90-m donation

Revealing the details of the 10 applications who are being considered for a R90-million donation would be “problematic,” according to the chairperson of the committee in charge of handling the money.

R100-million was donated to the university late last year where R10-million was allocated to the Wits Arts Museum and the remaining R90-million was assigned to a committee that will review applications from all the various faculties of the university. The faculties will compete for the funding by pitching possible projects that will be funded with the money.

Committee Chairperson, Thokozani Majozi said even though the process of allocating the money adopted a “mechanism of transparency” it is the committee that took the decision to keep the details of the proposals confidential until the process is finished, not the donor or the university.

“The danger in announcing the details of the proposals is that it might raise expectations, unnecessary expectation …You’ll be putting yourself in a very difficult situation because the challenge you can open up yourself to is that, all of us have got ideas,” Majozi said.

He said the final announcement of the proposal will be made by the vice chancellor and he will decide whether he wants to provide a detailed announcement on each of the proposals, either the final two or three or all 10.

“It will happen in the right time. I feel doing it now will be a bit premature,” Majozi said.

There were 72 applications submitted, 10 of them made the second round. Of the 10 applications two were from the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, three from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, two from the Faculty of Humanities and three from the Faculty of Science.

The Health Sciences faculty was not included because Majozi said some of their proposals were recommended by the committee to merge with successful proposals that are in the chosen 10.

“When we went through the 72 we found that there were some that were not strong on their own but which could be very strong if they lashed onto those that had gone through and these were across faculties … So you will find its zero for Health Science but there are maybe five from the Health Sciences that are now going to be linking up with say projects in EBE,” Majozi said.

He said when people submitted their applications they submitted in isolation and were therefore unaware that someone else was working on a project that may have similar scope.

The first round of the applications was a three paged proposal and now the second round is a detailed submission of the 10 proposal where applicants state their business plan and the sustainability of their projects, this is a “more refined level of the screening process”.

Majozi told Wits Vuvuzela that some proposals may need about R100-million but they can only give the R90-million that was donated. The rest of the funding would come from donors who have already pledged funds for some of these projects.

“So someone can ask for R20-million from us because they know they have R50-million from someone else … So the project itself might not be sufficiently covered the R90-million but whoever is going to be funded is going to make a strong case on how it is going to get managed,” Majozi said.

The deadline for detailed application was March 15 and the next meeting to narrow down the 10 proposals to two or three applications is on April 15.

A tough games gives Wits hope for the finals

SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER: FNB Wits standing side-by-side singing the national anthem before kick-off.   Photo: Anlerie de Wet

SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER: FNB Wits standing side-by-side singing the national anthem before kick-off.                 Photo: Anlerie de Wet

FNB Wits gets closer to the finals, defeating FNB UKZN again, with a score of 40-26, after a tough game in the Rugby Varsity Shield cup, last night.

Wits scored the first try of the game within 10 minutes putting them in the lead by eight points.

UKZN did not back down and after a sloppy move from Wits their captain, Lwazi Ngcungama, leveled the scores when he was given a chance to score a penalty.

However, Wits scored another try shortly thereafter through their centre Marx Koch and  just before half-time Ayabulela Mdudi gave Wits in a comfortable lead of 16 points when he scored Wits’s third try.

At the half-time break, Wits coach, Hugo van As said Wits was making a lot of mistakes, receiving a lot of yellow cards that could be avoided.

“We’ll cut down in our mistakes. A lot of penalties against us, a lot of discipline issues, not sure of the interpretation of the law… if we want to get continuity we would have to pick up on our discipline,”  said the coach.

“It was a tough one…I think we showed them too much respect we let them come at us we didn’t play our game tonight,”

However, Wits was not the only team making mistakes as UKZN Coach, Ryan Strudwick also admitted that his team was struggling with defence, making the rest of the game a bit hard.
In the second half of the game, UKZN picked up its pace after a “stern talking” from their coach.

UKZN, toughened their defence and their handling, giving Wits a run for their place at the top. They [UKZN] were sitting on 21 points, putting them just 11 points behind, when Marius Louw scored a try. Siphatisene Dube’s try a few moments later brought them even closer to Wits, taking UKZN up to 26 points.

Wits closed the game a with Brandton Hewitt’s try followed by  Tommy Damba’s conversion in the last 10 minutes of the game, Wits Captain, Richard Crossman admitted that they did not play to their “maximum” capacity.

“It was a tough one…I think we showed them too much respect we let them come at us we didn’t play our game tonight,” Crossman said.

Ngcungama said they played a “scrappy game” and was “really disappointed” as the captain of the team but hoped to do better so that they stand a chance to make it to the finals.

Wits hopes to not only have a place in the finale but to take the finals home while UKZN has to play and win against Fort Hare on March 30 to be guaranteed a place in the finals.

CRICKET: Randburg gives Wits the edge

Croxley Wits Cricket Club lost by two wickets in their league match against Randburg Cricket Club last Sunday.

The teams were evenly matched but Randburg managed to limit Wits’ total to 184.

Randburg coach, Kurt Human said his team’s performance went according to plan. “We wanted to come in here and try and restrict them … what we wanted was to bowl first and get four wickets down earlier on,” he said.

Tiro Madiseng, Randburg captain added, “Patience was the key for us. We’re hoping to get as close as possible to the top because they bit us the first time.”

Wits captain Nono Pongolo said their batting was not what they had hoped it would be, “we let ourselves down with the bat, losing soft wickets”.

The second half of the match saw Wits bowling soft balls giving Randburg the chance to score easy runs.

“Thanks to the bowlers we got a decent score that gave us a fighting chance. We fought well, but they wanted it more in the end,”

After a short break Randburg lost 4 wickets in quick succession, slowing their pace.

Even though Wits managed to push a little more, the team was a little too late when Randburg finished the game with a total of 191-8.

“We had a couple of half chances we did not hold on to, if we held on to those two or three chances we could have had three to five wickets down by now,” said player-coach Neil Levenson said.

“Thanks to the bowlers we got a decent score that gave us a fighting chance. We fought well, but they (Randburg) wanted it more in the end,” Pongolo said.

Even though Randburg managed to score 13 more points in the league for winning the game, Wits still remains in second place.

Wits still has two more games to play until the Gauteng Premier league is over.

Wits Cricket heading to the top

WICKET DOWN: All-rounder Imeraan Fredricks leaves the field after only batting a few runs. Photo: Lutho Mtongana

WICKET DOWN: All-rounder Imeraan Fredricks leaves the field after only batting a few runs.   Photo: Lutho Mtongana

Wits University is hoping to walk away with a comprehensive win against Randburg Cricket Club this Sunday in a time format game at home.
Croxley Wits Cricket is currently second on the Gauteng Premier league table with Old Parktonian Cricket Club in top spot. Randburg is currently in 6th place.
Wits will be relying on their bowling and fielding strength and hoping to improve on their batting performance in this weekend’s game.
Player-coach Neil Levenson, a former Randburg head coach, says he knows that Randburg has a good bowling unit with experienced players but says their batting is weak and he hopes his team will capitalise on this.
The plan is to “put them under pressure by leading with a good score”, Levenson said.
Wits batsman Nono Pongolo said they want to “carry on batting well. “Posting big scores so that we can have a chance of bowling them twice.”
But, Pongolo said, Wits lacks a strong batting partnership as they are still a young team. He believes though that if they carry on batting well, combined with their strong bowling unit, Wits will be “difficult to beat”.
Levenson added that he had a good relationship with Randburg players and when he was with them cricket was different, “it was about developing their players … They are an experienced team now.”
Last Sunday the team played their strongest opposition in Dobsonville Cricket Club and drew the match after running out of time.
The premier league is played in a time format with two innings a day and 60 overs. In the first innings there are 10 wickets and the second, five. Wits cricket have three games left.
Wits has played 7 games since the league started, won three, lost two and drew 2. They have three games in hand before the league finishes at the end of March.

Wits SRC President’s disciplinary hearing concluded, judgement to follow

Wits Vuvuzela can confirm that a disciplinary hearing against Wits SRC (Student Representatives Council) president Mcebo Dlamini has not found him guilty of any offence yet. This was revealed earlier today by deputy vice-chancellor (DVC): Advancement, Human Resources and Transformation Professor Tawana Kupe, who spoke to Wits Vuvuzela about the hearing and Dlamini’s apparent ‘resignation’ via a Facebook post on Saturday.

The post made from the account of “Mcebo Dlamini”, claimed the SRC president was resigning his post since he had been found guilty of “insulting one senior managment clown”, but according to Kupe, the charges against Dlamini had nothing to do with him offending anyone.

Kupe confirmed that a hearing consisting of a panel of three people, including a chairperson, member of the university Senate and a student representative, took place last Friday where charges against Dlamini were discussed. Kupe declined to disclose the nature of the charges. 

Charges brought last year

“One thing I can say is, it’s not true that he was charged because he offended a certain person in senior management, that I can categorically deny,” Kupe said.

“In this case, a person would have to be violating university procedures, and violating university procedures is not violating the VC or the head … it’s violating procedures of the university. You can never be charged of a personal offence to a person in senior management in the way in which people are quoting it,” Kupe said.

He added that the case was concluded on Friday but the panel still needed to make a judgement and until then, the vice-chancellor (VC), Prof Adam Habib cannot suspend Dlamini. The final judgement is not made by the VC but by the panel appointed to Dlamini’s case, according to Kupe.

The charges against Dlamini were all brought against him last year and the case has been on-going since. Kupe said all cases depended on the gathering of evidence, the availability of witnesses and the availability of the hearing panel. Other factors such as the NSFAS crisis and other pressing matters were some of the reasons why the hearing was delayed.

Right to appeal

Kupe said he was not aware of any official statement from Dlamini about a resignation from his post and said that once the judgement was made there will be an official statement from the university.

Should he be found guilty of any of the charges, Dlamini, like any other student has the right to appeal the judgement and the sentencing.

Dlamini declined to give comment to Wits Vuvuzela. 

Another easy win for Wits cricket


JC Maritz, Croxley Wits Cricket Club batsman. He managed to bat 111 runs before he was bowled out yesterday.

BATSMAN: JC Maritz, Croxley Wits Cricket Club batsman. He managed to bat 111 runs before he was bowled out yesterday.         Photo: Lutho Mtongana

After bowling out Roshnee Cricket Club who only managed 96 runs in the first innings, Croxley Wits showed their dominance despite playing in difficult weather conditions at home yesterday.

The second innings was just as easy for Wits who piled on the runs and declared at 250-5 with a lead of 154 runs.

“I think we executed our plans today. The plan was to bowl them out early and then bat once, declare and then bowl again, so we’re on track for that,” said  Wits captain Joshua Datnow.

The batting partnership of JC Maritz and Rob Hendricks gave Wits a solid start with 157 runs with a wicket down.

Maritz was one of the leading batsmen of the day and was bowled out after he managed 111 runs.

Maqsood Saley, Roshnee score-keeper, said his team had lost a number of players during off season last year and had not had enough time to practice with the remaining guys in the team.

“We have weaknesses in both the batting and the bowling, the bowling is alright but the batting is too bad … Fielding is also bad, we dropped a lot of catches. I just think that Wits is the better team,” Saley added.

Wits declared after five wickets, leaving Roshnee to chase 157 to win. The bad light and poor interruptions only seem to weaken the Roshnee side who finished on 42-4 by 6pm.

The Cricket Premier League is played in a timely format with two innings in a day. On Saturday Wits Cricket played Crescents in Lenasia which resulted in a draw.

Wits’ next game is away against its biggest competitor Dobsonville.


Wits boys shield their position on top

Tendai Dube and Lutho Mtongana

The Wits Varsity Shield team is back with a competitive bang, sitting top of the log with three wins and a draw in their first four matches of the season.
FNB Wits has been unstoppable since the season kicked off a month ago and this week was no different when the boys drew 37-all against the University of the Western Cape (UWC) at home.
Wits captain and flank Richard Crossman said the team has been fortunate in getting this far in the Cup.
“It’s been a huge transformation, we have a whole bunch of new guys, new management, and they are all fresh from matric. We only have two or three senior guys,” said Crossman.
Although they are currently leading the log, the team still have to work hard to stay ahead of the game and, according to Crossman, are training intensely.
“Our weaknesses is that we are young and inexperienced but that could also be our strength because our guys are young and are willing to learn,” Crossman said.
In their first game of the year the Wits boys went head-to-head against a normally challenging Fort Hare, and defeated them with a solid 39-24 win.
They then proceeded to squash the TUT Vikings with 71-36 in their next match on February 19.

CROSSING THE LINE: Richard Crossman, Wits Rugby Captain, flank  Photo: Tendai Dube

CROSSING THE LINE: Richard Crossman, Wits Rugby Captain, flank Photo: Tendai Dube

On March 9 Wits will be playing against Fort Hare on the Wits Rugby Field and Crossman is determine that they will come out on top once again with their home ground advantage.
There are five teams in the Varsity Shield this year: UWC, Wits, Fort Hare, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). Wits needs to finish at the top of the log at the end of the season to secure a chance to move back into the Varsity Cup.

Budget speech brings good news for students

The annual budget speech has brought good news for students and academic institutions. Delivered by finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in Parliament earlier today, the speech has included an increase in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

In 2017/2018 the NSFAS budget will increase to R11,9  billion from R9,2 billion in 2014/2015 helping to ease the funding crisis currently facing students across the country.

“We are mindful of the pressures on student financing at our higher education institutions… This will support a further increase in university enrolments and in technical and vocational colleges,” Nene said.


In addition, the finance minister has proposed an infrastructure budget of R10,5 billion for all universities, “including R3,2 billion for the new universities of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatje”. The subsidies universities receive from government will amount to R72,4 billion overall.

Relief for students needing funding

Earlier this year 2788 Wits University students were unable to register after they were denied NSFAS funding.

At the time the vice-chancellor Prof Habib admitted in a statement: “Despite this [increase in NSFAS funding], the demand for financial aid still outstrips the availability of funds dedicated to higher education study.”

The Wits Student Representatives Council (SRC) campaigned to raise R1-million in one month for the students and last week succeeded in surpassing this goal in just 14 days reaching R1,7 million.


UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Nearly R2-million raised in 1Million1Month campaign

The Wits SRC have raised R1, 7 million after Wits chancellor Dikgang Moseneke and ten of his friends donated R50 000 each at the “One million, One month” launch earlier today.

The “One million, One month” campaign was officially launched by the Wits Student Representatives Council (SRC) at the Great Hall today even though the campaign reached its initial target of R1-million last Friday. The SRC was joined by the campaign’s ambassadors whose contributions today saw the total amount rise to R1,7 million.

Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, one of the ambassadors, donated R50 000 and arranged for ten of his friends to match his contribution.

“I have phoned a number of my friends and I said to them I will make a commitment on my feet today … and at least 10 of them said they will match me”, Moseneke said.

“One of my friends was moved by young comrades thinking in a very revolutionary way. They have a deep grievance but they find a positive way to address it”, Moseneke added.

Wits vice-chancellor, Professor Adam Habib, said he hopes that the campaign raises one or two million more.

“I will not lie to you. We are hoping to make R2 or 3 million … I will not have enough money to fund all students,” Habib said.

Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini pointed out that he was no longer talking to the Department of Higher Education (DHE), about the problem but he refuses to see 2788 students go back home.

“One of my friends was moved by young comrades thinking in a very revolutionary way. They have a deep grievance but they find a positive way to address it”

“Our wish is to take all 2788 students to class because that is the future of the nation. I can’t lose 2788 students, I cannot,” Dlamini said.

LEGACY: Advocate George Bizos, attended the Wits SRC's One Million, One Month launch at the Wits Great Hall. The Human Rights Lawyer is best known for representing Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia Trial. Photo: Tendai Dube

LEGACY: Advocate George Bizos, attended the Wits SRC’s One Million, One Month launch at the Wits Great Hall. Photo: Tendai Dube

Advocate George Bizos, who was the first official ambassador of the campaign, shared a moving story of a young woman he knew who struggled financially and recalled his promise to “never let anyone in [his] generation go through the same thing”.

Mpendulo Nkosi, a first year civil engineering student from rural KZN spoke of his difficulties in securing accommodation and funding for his studies at Wits. He was later surprised by the announcement that he was to be fully funded by a donor, the Thusanani Foundation, a youth-led non- profit organisation.

Nkosi said, “I am really thankful, they have done great for me and my family.”

“I am really thankful, they have done great for me and my family”. 

Another significant donation was that of R100 000 from the South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF).

Amongst the ambassadors who joined Bizos and Moseneke on stage was poet Lebo Mashile, and singer, Thandiswa Mazwai, both of whom congratulated Wits and the student leadership for their positive reaction to the funding crisis.


Wits SRC looking beyond R1-million target

The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has reached the R1-million target but the campaign to register financially needy students will continue, Sheera Kalla, SRC deputy president told Wits Vuvuzela today.

After an “overwhelming week” of donations, the Wits SRC reached its R1-million target today through a combination of contributions and pledges. However, the SRC is set to continue raising funds since that R1-million is not enough to cover all 2 788 students who did not receive National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funds.

Kalla said the R1-million would only cover the registration fees of about 100 students. The SRC said it would “intensify” its efforts to raise funds after the success of the “One Million One Month” campaign.

“A million means we’ll help 100 students’ lives but at the same time you want to change more students and you want to say you did it in a responsible way,” Kalla said.

While the initial R1-million target was reached, most of the money was committed as pledges and is not yet in the bank.

“We’ll have to allocate the funds then we can really say we have reached our goal because students are getting registered,” Kalla said.

The SRC still needs to come up with a criteria on how they will allocate the funds fairly and responsibly. Kalla said they are considering first helping students who performed well academically and then helping third-year students because they will be finishing their degrees.

“This weekend we will have to sit down and decide because we want the funds to get to students as soon as possible,” Kalla told Wits Vuvuzela.

After the students have been registered they will have to take responsibility of paying for the rest of their fees. Though Kalla said the SRC will try to help where they can.

“Students also need to come to the table and try and do their best to get funding because you will now be registered and will have until the end of the year to pay your fees. So it’s going to be a collective effort by students and by the SRC,” Kalla said.

The money that will keep on coming in after R1-million will go to the humanitarian fund.

“The purpose of the humanitarian fund is not to fund student fees, it’s to fund things like outstanding payments that stop you from graduating, its upfront payment fees, emergency things, food, necessities … not pay your entire fees,” Kalla told Wits Vuvuzela.

The Wits SRC is now urging the people who have pledged to go to the bank and send the money quickly. According to Kalla if students are not registered in time they will not be able to do after the end of the month.

“The most important message is that even if we have reached the R1-million that was our target, that was not our goal, our goal is to change as many student lives as possible, a million is just a drop in the ocean,” Kalla said.

Show us the money!

Follow the money

Click to enlarge.

After four months and three meetings behind closed doors on how to use a R90-million donation, the selection committee is not yet open to publically discussing the specifics of proposals for how to spend the money.

A gift of R100-million was given to Wits by an anonymous donor late last year who asked the university to use the money for enhancing teaching, learning and research activities.


Unspecific statements surround R90-million

Wits Art Museum immediately received R10-million of the donation while a decision on how to spend the remaining R90-million was assigned to a committee appointed by Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib.

The committee is made up of Wits staff members from across all faculties. Proposals on how to spend the money have also come from every faculty.

When the committee met last Friday they narrowed down the 72 applications to just 10. According to the committee the 10 finalists are strong proposals that have long-term sustainability and academic requirements.

However, though the committee has issued regular, unspecific statements about its proceedings, it has not yet given information about the individual proposals it is considering.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Zeblon Vilakazi told Wits Vuvuzela that he does not have the authority to discuss the individual proposals publically. He referred questions about the proposals to the committee’s chair, Prof Thokozani Majozi.

Wits Vuvuzela has attempted several times to contact Majozi for more than a week. As of press time, he had not yet responded to queries about how the R90-million will be spent.

But Vilakazi could give some information on the guidelines for spending the money: “The wishes of the donor was that the money must not be for infrastructure and that the committee must look for projects and ideas that will help the university in reaching its vision for 2020,” Vilakazi told Wits Vuvuzela.

“The wishes of the donor was that the money must not be for infrastructure.”

The 10 current applications are now on the second phase of the process and the project owners will have to motivate reasons to fund their projects. They will be narrowed down to two or three outstanding proposals depending on the amount of funding each project requires.

Donation can’t solve NSFAS crisis

Some have asked that the money be loaned to students who were in need of funding after being rejected by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. However, according to Vilakazi this does not fall within the mandate given by the donor.

Staff members hoping for a better increase to their salaries are also out of luck.

“It is not for salaries, it’s not for bursaries. It has to be a self-sustaining project and must be able to generate extra income in the long term … The money is not to solve short-term problems it’s to strategically position the university at a level that is better than it is in now,” Vilakazi said.

Vilakazi added that the money does not belong to the committee or Wits University but to the donor. He suggested that if the students have a proposal on how to spend the money they should approach the university.

“So if students have a better idea of what should be done with the money they must approach the vice chancellor,” Vilakazi said.

Q & A with Shaeera Kalla


Deputy President of the Wits’ Student Representative Council Shaeera Kalla. Photo: Provided

The Wits SRC has made national headlines with its “One Million One  Month” campaign to raise R1-million for students in need of funding. They’re quickly approaching their goal with R780 000 pledged. We spoke to SRC deputy president Shaeera Kalla.

How is the campaign going ?

This evening we received R100 000 by an organisation that prefers to be anonymous for now. The campaign has really taken off very well, we are however running against time so it is stressful but at the same time rewarding to see how much it means to students and how eager everyone is to get involved.

How is raising the money different to protesting?

Protesting gets you the attention you need to draw people to a certain issue and to make them think about it in a critical, raw and real way. There is ample benefit in protest action and we as South Africans know this better than any other people. There comes a point, however, where one needs to be practical enough to understand that in certain circumstances protest action alone will not have the relevant effect.

What are the challenges the campaign is currently facing?

The campaign’s main challenge is that we now need to look at a fair criteria through which we allocate the funds that were raised because a R1-million is extremely small and will never cover all 2 419 students …  It is good to know we can raise money but at the same time a crisis this size needs government intervention.

How are you going to split the R1-million to student who need it, what criteria are you going to use?

We are awaiting the official university Financial Aid and Scholarships Office reports which detail how many students are affected … We need these reports urgently before we can process any funding or finalize a method of processing the money. These students are not charity cases they are deserving recipients of financial aid.

The R1-million will not cover all the students, what plans do you have for those who will not be covered?

We will be compiling a report on the experiences of students who were on NSFAS. I’m not sure how we are going to solve this but again, it is a crisis, we are students who are responding to it … We call upon Wits University, NSFAS and the Department of Higher Education to resolve this crisis so that our students can complete their studies, and for some at least, begin their university careers.