Not all South Africans were thrilled by the news that EFF leader Julius Malema and Premier Helen Zille were being touted as the next UCT chancellor. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Not all South Africans were thrilled by the news that EFF leader Julius Malema and Premier Helen Zille were being touted as the next UCT chancellor. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

LOOK: 11 South Africans who could fill the position of UCT chancellor

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published May 15, 2019

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Cape Town - The search has begun for the next UCT chancellor to replace outgoing chancellor Graça Machel.

UCT registrar Royston Pillay said Machel’s term was ending this year. She was elected in 1999. Pillay said the chancellor was the titular head of the university and presided at all graduation ceremonies and conferred all degrees and awards in the name of the university.

Pillay added: “The role of chancellor requires an individual of stature, with exceptional personal qualities and integrity.”

Pillay said nominations in writing must be signed by at least 20 people (but not more than 30), each of whom must be either a member of the convocation or a member of staff or a student at the university.

Here are 11 South Africans that we think meet the requirements: 

1. John Kani

Bonisile John Kani is one the most acclaimed performers within the SA entertainment industry. 

In addition to winning the Tony Award, Kani has received a number of awards at different stages of his career. These include a merit award in 1987 from the Southern Transvaal Chamber of Commerce for his contribution to the Struggle for liberation through culture, an honorary doctorate from the University of Durban-Westville for his invaluable contribution to the development of arts and culture during the struggle for liberation, the “Hiroshima Award for Peace" and the Tribute Magazine “Titan of the Century" award.

Kani has been intimately involved, in one capacity or another, in the long cycle of Fugard plays which changed the face of South African theatre. He has appeared in various local and foreign films and through the medium of theatre he has contributed to the process that brought radical change to South Africa.

SA Actor John Kani at the SA premiere of Black Panther. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

2. Mark Shuttleworth

Shuttleworth is a South African entrepreneur who is the founder and chief executive of Canonical Ltd, the company behind the development of the Linux-based Ubuntu operating system. In 2002, he became the first South African to travel to space as a space tourist.

He also studied finance and information systems at the University of Cape Town, and orbital ballistics in Zvyozdny Gorodok, Russia.

South African space tourist Mark Shuttleworth shows thumbs up from inside the landing capsule after landing in the steppe near the Kazakh town of Arkalyk, May 5, 2002. Picture Mikhail Grachyev/REUTERS

3. Baleka Mbete

Mbete served as a Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa from September 25, 2008 to May 9, 2009. She also served as a Chairperson of the ANC Parliamentary caucus from 1995; as President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union from April 2008 and served as a Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of South Africa from April 2004 until September 25, 2008.

In 2016 Mbete, received the Martin Luther King Legacy Award for International Service in Washington DC, in the US. The award recognised individuals who have demonstrated distinguished leadership and have made contributions that have had a positive impact in the global community.

Mbete is also a UCT alumni having completed post-graduate courses in Framework for Governance 1998; Basic Principles of Public International Law in 1999; International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law in 2000 and Theory and practice of conflict resolution in 2005.

Outgoing Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

4. Zackie Achmat

 “Education is the key to human dignity and freedom. It is the key for living in the world – the social property that has been accumulated through generations.” - Achmat

Achmat made a massive contribution to the fight against HIV and Aids in South Africa. He is a co-founder of the Treatment Action Campaign and known worldwide for his activism on behalf of people living with HIV and Aids in South Africa. He currently serves as board member and co-director of Ndifuna Ukwazi (Dare to Know), an organisation which aims to build and support social justice organisations and leaders, and is the chairperson of Equal Education.

Unite Behind secretary member, Zackie Achmat speaking during the protest outside Cape Town train station on Tuesday. Picture: Sandisiwe Ntlemeza/African News Agency(ANA)

5. Gcina Mhlophe

Nokugcina Elsie Mhlophe was born in 1959 and is well-known for her roles as a freedom fighter, activist, actress, storyteller, poet, playwright, director and author. Storytelling is a deeply traditional activity in Africa, and Gcina does it exceptionally well.

SA Performer Gcina Mhlophe. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

6. Dr Imtiaz Sooliman

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman was born in Potchefstroom, in the North West. He started his schooling in Potchefstroom, but moved to Sastri College in Durban in 1978. He qualified as a medical doctor at the then-University of Natal Medical School in 1984.

Sooliman gave up his career as a medical doctor to pursue the field of humanitarian aid, which for him transcends the boundaries of race, religion, culture, class and geography.

In 1992, he founded the Gift of the Givers Foundation, and has since then delivered more than R160 million in a 13-year period to 22 countries, including South Africa.

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

7. Pregs Govender

Pregs Govender is a feminist human rights activist, author and former ANC Member of Parliament. She was appointed in 2008 by the South African Parliament to be one of seven commissioners of the South African Human Rights Commission, and in 2009, made deputy chairperson.

Pregs Govender tackled gross human rights violations while at the Human Rights Commission Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

8. Charlene, Princess of Monaco

Charlene, Princess of Monaco is a Zimbabwean-South African former Olympic swimmer and wife of Prince Albert II. The Princess was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, the daughter of Michael and Lynette Wittstock. The family moved to South Africa in 1989.

Princess Charlene won three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1999 All-Africa Games in Johannesburg. She represented South Africa at the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games, winning a silver medal in the 4×100m medley relay in the latter competition.

Princess Charlene of Monaco arrives at Monaco cathedral during the traditional Sainte Devote celebration in Monaco. Picture: Eric Gaillard/REUTERS

9. Mogoeng Mogoeng

In 1983, Mogoeng graduated from the University of Zululand with a B Juris. In 1985 he completed his LLB at the University of Natal, Durban. In 1989, he completed his studies at the University of South Africa, where he studied an LLM concentrating on labour law, the law of property, the law of insurance, the law of evidence and the law of criminal procedure.

He is the current Chief Justice of South Africa.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Photo: Bonile Bam/African News Agency(ANA) Archives.

10. Zubeida Jaffer

Zubeida Jaffer is a journalist, author and activist. She is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University. She also holds a masters degree from Columbia University in New York where she won the best foreign student award in 1996. She is presently Writer-in-residence at the University of the Free State and associated with the Communication Science Department. She started her career at the Cape Times in 1980 and also spent a short stint at the Rand Daily Mail in Johannesburg in the same year. 

At the same time, she volunteered in developing the community newspaper Grassroots that helped bring together local community organizations. These organizations grew and eventually combined to form the United Democratic Front that led the uprising against apartheid. In 1981, while still at the Cape Times, her passport was withdrawn and she was not allowed to travel for nine years. 

During the eighties, she was detained and tortured twice and continues to be hampered by the after effects of these horrendous experiences that many journalists endured under apartheid. Her work has earned her numerous local and international awards. These include the Muslim Views Achiever Award as well as the Honor Medal for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the University of Missouri in the USA. 

In 1994 she was selected as one of seven media professionals in the country to help oversee the relationship between political parties and the media during this country’s first democratic elections. 

Her memoir, Our Generation, eloquently tells the story of her emotional journey through the years of South Africa’s turbulence into a new democracy. It has been translated into Arabic. Her second book, Love in the Time of Treason has been described as a "tour de force" and is published internationally under the title, On Trial with Mandela. Beauty of the Heart, The life and times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke, is her third book and tells the story of South Africa’s first black female graduate. 

She is the publisher of The Journalist (, a multimedia website designed to tell the stories of forgotten pioneers of journalism in her country and on the continent. She has a personal website that carries some of her writings. ( She hopes to publish her research into What Decolonisation Means for Journalism Education in 2018. Her only daughter is a teacher and is doing her honours in education part-time at UCT. She lives in Wynberg, Cape Town where her family has resided for close to 60 years.  

Award-winning journalist and author Zubeida Jaffer. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

11. David Kramer

David Kramer is a South African singer, songwriter, playwright and director, most notable for his musicals about the Cape Coloured communities, and for his early opposition to apartheid.

He began his music career as a singer/songwriter, performing at folk clubs and campus concerts across South Africa in the mid 1970’s, singing satrirical songs.

Releasing his first album BAKGAT! in 1980, which was immediately banned in its entirety by the SABC because of it’s political satire, the use of coarse language and the mixing of languages.

David Kramer was awarded for his work at Fiestas awards were held at the Artscape. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

* Closing date for nominations is June 7. Nominations must be sent to: The Registrar, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X3, Rondebosch, 7701 or via email to [email protected]


[email protected]

Cape Argus

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