The IFP Women’s Brigade welcomes the Women’s Month by celebrating the prestigious nomination of Dr Judy Dlamini who has been announced as the first black woman to be appointed as the Chancellor of the Witwatersrand University. Dr Dlamini is a qualified medical doctor, author, philanthropist and accomplished businesswoman with an MBA and PhD. We celebrate particularly this history making appointment as women of South Africa because she is breaking boundaries in a sector where there is scarcity of black women.
The shortage of black South African women in high leadership academic positions in our universities is a serious cause for concern. It is a reality that, 25 years after the transition to democracy, there are very few black female academics occupying top academic positions. Those few numbers are mostly blacks from other foreign countries. We cannot have universities with mandates of addressing the issues of transformation by using blacks from other countries as redress candidates. This is why the nomination of Dr Dlamini invokes feelings of optimism for the trajectory that we are expecting from higher education to take in the near future.
The majority of students in our tertiary education institutions are increasingly becoming black and this majority proactively calls for the decolonisation of the university, curriculum, leadership and staff demographics. How can a university teach courses such as history, political studies, anthropology, arts etc without a single black female South African academic in those departments?
As the IFP Women’s Brigade, we disprove the claim that black female leaders and academics go for more lucrative positions outside the academia and it is without evidence. Not only does it suggest that female black leaders and academics are only after money but shifts the responsibility of universities to black academics and leadership. Not all black academics and influential leaders think that job satisfaction is about financial reward. This kind of thinking is regressive and backward. It is high time the prioritization of transformation agenda becomes crucial in the higher education sector. This country has many excellent and deserving black women who should occupy upper echelons within various higher learning institutions.
Lastly as the IFP Women’s Brigade, we are certain that Dr Dlamini’s leadership and wisdom will inspire other ambitious younger black people and women in particular to become high achieving academics and future leaders of our tertiary institutions and other critical institutions in our country.
Mrs Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa, MPL
IFP Women’s Brigade National Chairperson