UCT policy tackles bullying
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Council members at UCT have approved a bullying policy after repeated calls for rules to hold staff accountable when addressing such complaints.
Spokesperson for UCT, Elijah Moholola, confirmed that the university council had approved the policy, in June.
Although no longer at the university, the adoption of the policy is a major victory for former Ombud Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa, whose 10 year tenure at UCT ended in December, last year. The university controversially ran down the clock on her term without addressing 37 complaints included in her 2019 Ombud report on the, bullying by academics and staff, against the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
Moholola did not comment about what had become of the complaints against Phakeng.
The university also tried to muzzle the ombud through a disciplinary process which lapsed without any of the charges being addressed.
Makamandela-Mguqulwa had written to the university registrar Royston Pillay demanding the outcome of her performance appraisal and the disciplinary process against her.
“I have not received any response, nor have I heard what happened to it,” she wrote.
Makamandela-Mguqulwa said the decision on her performance was an essential part of her end of term.
She told Pillay that although UCT had attempted to cast doubt on her capabilities as Ombud. Since leaving the university, she has received acknowledgement from colleagues both within the country and internationally. “Given all that has happened, 2020 saw my name recorded publicly as one of three Ombuds who displayed courage in the face of value conflicts.”
Moholola said Council has appointed former University of Johanneburg vice-chancellor Professor Ihron Rensburg as the interim Ombud. He would work along with Professor Pierre de Vos, and was tasked with – among others – working on the Terms of Reference for the Ombud Office.
Once this process is done, Council will consider a substantive appointment.