File image: IOL
Cape Town - UCT’s appointment of a white associate professor as deputy vice-chancellor for Teaching and Learning was a lost opportunity for promoting black women in academics, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said.

Associate professor Lis Lange’s appointment has been met with fury, with the Black Academics Caucus (Bac) alleging inconsistencies in the recruitment process.

The Bac claims a black candidate, Professor Elelwani Ramugondo, who was Vice-Chancellor Max Price’s special adviser on transformation, had also been shortlisted for the position but was deemed “unappointable”.

The Bac said: “Professor Ramugondo fulfilled the criteria listed for the position.

“Lis Lange, on the other hand, was awarded associate professorship by a committee of UCT subsequent to her appointment.”

The Bac said the university needed to confront institutional racism that existed at all levels.

Nehawu provincial spokesperson Eric Kweleta said Ramugondo had served on the council for two years and done extensive work on transformation.

“UCT wants to continue portraying black academics as those who must serve tea and not be the face of the university.

“It is totally unfair and is a lost opportunity in promoting black women academics,” he said.

“We don’t know why they would choose a white person from the Free State. It could be that the work she (Ramugondo) did on transformation counted against her - that is a no-go area for UCT.”

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the 2017 demographics composition of UCT professors showed there were 145 white professors, 38 black (Africans, coloureds and Indians), 67 foreign nationals and seven whose race was not self-disclosed.

“We recognise that as institutions we can do a lot more to address this issue and to ensure that we grow the pool from which professors can be drawn,” Moholola said.

“The allegation of racism, justified by the claim that the selection committee and council supported an unqualified white woman against a qualified black South African candidate, is false and insulting to both the selection committee and council.

“The council overwhelmingly supported the decision,” he said.

It was reported that the Bac and Professor Ramugondo would be taking the university to court.

“We understand that the unsuccessful candidate intends to pursue legal action.

“This would be unfortunate. But if the unsuccessful candidate believes that there were irregularities with the process, it is within their rights to seek legal recourse,” said Moholola.

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