The ever-widening gap between rich and poor, despite the fall of apartheid, is “truly immoral”, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has said at his inauguration as chancellor of the University of the Western Cape.
He succeeds Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who stepped down last year after 23 years.
“It is all too evident that economic disparities remain vast, and even growing,” Makgoba said on Tuesday night.
“The situation in education is little better, for all that the headline statistics trumpet great increases in matric pass rates. For beneath these figures lies the sad story that a good half of those who entered school in 2000 failed even to write matric.
“And what can a pass truly mean, when it is sufficient to achieve a mere 40 percent or even 30 percent? We must not be afraid of excellence.
“The task of education, at every level, is to work to overcome these divisions and close these gaps, for their existence and their persisting, even worsening, is a scandal. It is truly immoral.”
Makgoba said UWC had an impeccable record as a driver of change and had produced remarkable leaders while being one of the most diverse universities in South Africa. But it should continue its vigilance to attain the kind of country for which some had paid the highest price.
Rector and vice-chancellor Brian O’Connell welcomed Makgoba as chancellor, saying: “Under his watchful eyes and with his blessings, UWC will build on its strengths and excel in every aspect of its mission.”
Tutu, in welcoming Makgoba as his successor, has said: “I am so glad for UWC and for Archbishop Makgoba, who is making his mark early, within South Africa and overseas.”
Congratulations poured in for Makgoba, including a message from Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who said he was confident the archbishop would contribute to UWC’s development.
University council chairman Brian Williams described Makgoba as the “chosen one” and said the council had selected him because his attributes included being a unifier.
Born on December 15, 1960, Makgoba attended Orlando High School in Soweto, obtained a Master’s degree in educational psychology at the University of Witwatersrand.
He later went to St Paul’s College in Grahamstown to study for the Anglican ministry. He married Lungelwa Manona, daughter of academic Cecil Manona.
Makgoba served his first few years in the ministry in the Diocese of Johannesburg, as a curate at the cathedral and as Wits chaplain. He was then put in charge of St Alban’s Church and later Christ the King, Sophiatown. He became archdeacon of Sophiatown in 1999. He is patron of Hope and of Africa for Haiti.
In 2007, Makgoba became the youngest person to be elected archbishop of Cape Town. Two years later, he was awarded a PhD by UCT. - Cape Times