Open letter: Dr Sibongile Vilakazi addresses moonlighting allegations

Sibongile Vilakazi is the president of the Black Management Forum.

Sibongile Vilakazi is the president of the Black Management Forum.

Published Dec 15, 2023


The Wits Business School (WBS) moonlighting matter took place six years ago. I was dismissed for taking on additional work that might have impeded my scholarly responsibilities without the knowledge of the university.

The nature of academia is such that academics are encouraged to take on additional work that enhances their scholarly responsibilities. It’s common cause that most academics are engaged in all manner of activities that they get paid for. The requirement is a discloser of all the activities.

The WBS policy outlines how the disclosers should be undertaken. Under the policy, moonlighting is supposed to be disclosed upfront. I accept this; however, I do not accept the manner in which the matter was dealt with at a time. There were many nuances that suggested that the intention was to dismiss me rather than encourage discipline in the school.

I believed then, as I believe now, that the issue was a misunderstanding that warranted a discussion and meeting of minds rather than a disciplinary process. I took the matter on review and the review was, unfortunately, dismissed.

Looking at the number of articles that have since been published as lessons from the case, I can’t help but feel okay in my soul about what has happened.

I am an educator and knowledge producer as an academic. If my experience of “moonlighting”, as termed by WBS, has contributed to knowledge generation and educational material, then I have no regrets that it happened.

Many are benefiting from it and I now know better to take legal documents and governance principles with the seriousness they deserve. The experience has served its purpose. My relationship with the current leadership of the school is positive.

Under the head of school, Professor Maurice Radebe, WBS is far from the WBS I was involved with six years ago and I’m extremely inspired by the turnaround he has done.

Unfortunately, the judgment is written in a manner that presents me in an extremely negative light. I am not the person described in the judgment. My work proves that I’m not that person and I will not entertain why Acting Judge Sean Snyman felt the need to present the matter in that manner.

My work shows that I’m committed to the success of the country. I stand for good governance and ethical leadership. I stand for fairness and justice. South Africa can be great and prosperous for all of us if we all do what is expected of us.

Since I operate in highly political environments, the judgment presented an opportunity for those who needed something to use to show that I’m not who I say I am; I’m just as corrupt as they are.

A smear campaign was run through Newzroom Afrika and Business Day. The reports are a misrepresentation and dishonest because they were given the facts they requested from the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, myself and Purple Growth, yet they ignored the facts. The reports were aimed only at character assassination.

I find it disappointing that the media outlets have allowed themselves to stoop so low and jeopardise the reputation of good journalism in order to serve someone else’s evil ends.

Dr Sibongile Vilakazi is president of the Black Management Forum.