New chapter dawns for Fort Hare as it gears up for decade of renewal

Johannesburg – Historic higher education institution University of Fort Hare is a step closer to restoring governance after completing its period under administration.

The Department of Higher Education had last year launched a full-scale investigation into the affairs of the University of Fort Hare.

This followed then minister of higher education Naledi Pandor ’s decision to place the institution under administration after describing its governance as seriously challenged.

The university’s vice-chancellor and principal, Sakhela Buhlungu, has steered the university through the 18 months.

“It’s official. The University of Fort Hare is no longer under administration,” an excited Buhlungu said.

Loyiso Nongxa was appointed as first administrator and served a 12-month term, which ended in April this year. He was then followed by Nhlanganiso Dladla, whose six month term ended a few days ago.

The administration process saw a team of independent assessors appointed to conduct an in-depth investigation into the affairs of the university.

Buhlungu said Nongxa and Dladla had served the university well.

“We’ve been waiting for this moment to operate as a normal university with a council that provides oversight. This is our priority need. We are very optimistic about the future. The period 2020-2030 has been earmarked as a ‘Decade of Renewal’ at Fort Hare,” Buhlungu said.

The university has also appointed a 22-member council. The new council will be chaired by Bishop Ivan Manuel Abrahams, general secretary of the World Methodist Council.

Dr Siphokazi Koyana, an entrepreneur who owns and manages a socio-economic development- focused research consultancy, will serve as his deputy. Abrahams said he was grateful for the opportunity to lead the university as it turns a new page in its history.

“Today we are the new story of the University of Fort Hare. This is an opportunity to recalibrate our moral compasses and connect with the institution. We must not forget that we stand on the shoulders of giants who passed through the doors of this iconic institution. We dare not let them down. May all of us believe we can fly into a future that is pregnant with possibilities,” he said.

University chancellor Dumisa Ntsebeza welcomed the appointment of the new council.

“May … you leave an indelible mark and construct a legacy for the University of Fort Hare because this is our mother university,” he said.

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