Cape Town - Lecturers, academics and other staff at UCT have entered the fray around the Cecil John Rhodes statue debate, slamming the institution for a lack of transformation, and echoing students’ demand for the Rhodes statue to be removed from campus grounds.
Speaking to the Cape Times on Sunday, lecturer Xolela Mangcu highlighted a lack of staff transformation and accusing vice-chancellor Max Price of deliberately refusing to hire black professors.
“Max Price insists it is difficult to get black professors at the university, but I have given him and the university council a list of black professors from Harvard, Yale and Columbia universities,” he said.
Mangcu said that there are currently only five black senior professors at UCT out of 200.
“The students want to be taught by black professors and they want management to get rid of racist lecturers.”
National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) UCT branch chairwoman Patricia Berry said not enough black staff are being promoted to senior levels, where they can play an active role in decision-making.
Academic Zethu Matebeni, who is a senior researcher at UCT’s Institute for Humanities in Africa, said that while it was important for the statue to fall, holistic transformation was the goal.
“The statue is a symbolic form of discrimination and if it stays, UCT will remain untransformed. It contributes to the institutional culture that makes UCT untransformed,” she said.
Matebeni pointed out that the issue of outsourced workers, who are mostly black and employed as cleaners, needs to be addressed too.
UCT spokeswoman Gerda Kruger said more than 700 people have shared their views on the matter via the [email protected] e-mail address.
“On Wednesday, UCT staff and students will assemble in Jameson Hall to listen to views on the Rhodes statue, and to express their thoughts. These debates will inform our thinking and will further shape our emerging proposal to Council.
“In terms of the statements by Professor Xolela Mangcu and Nehawu, we invite them to join other staff and students in participating in the process.
“Their voices and views on solutions to the complexities we face are important,” said Kruger.
On Friday, hundreds of supporters joined UCT students in a protest march, and went on to occupy UCT’s Bremner Building, which houses the University Council offices, after disrupting a Price speech.
The Student Representative Council members said they would remain in the building until their demands are met.