Chancellor's plea for political tolerance at varsity

NEWLY inaugurated Mangosuthu University of Technology vice-chancellor and principal Mashupye Kgaphola has called on political parties in KwaZulu-Natal, to continue supporting the institution's vision to stabilise and renew it.

Kgaphola was speaking at his inauguration in Umlazi on Saturday.

MUT is known for political tensions that manifested themselves during student representative council (SRC) elections between IFP-alligned South African Students Democratic Movement (Sadesmo) and ANC-alligned South African Students Congress (Sasco).

Kgaphola said the MUT, like a few other SA universities, had been put under pressure to adopt some form of a "choiceless singularity".

"To put it in simple terms, our university has in the past experienced skirmishes between its internal constituencies." he said.

"These divisions sometimes spilled over the perimeter, both literally and figuratively.

"For this reason the university spent most of its time defending its positioning instead of dealing with its core business - to educate, nurture and socialise for our nation the next generation of professionals, entrepreneurs, activists and leaders."

He said last year, during the campaign for national and provincial elections, the university made the news because of a political standoff between rival student organisations.

"In essence, such conflagrations are a reflection of a climate of political intolerance," Kgaphola said.

"I am citing this example and incident deliberately because in the next few months the country will once again be involved in electioneering as parties vie for seats in municipalities.

"Our dream is to create a campus that resonates with the democratic values of our national Constitution."

He said as a result of a new constitutional dispensation the university for the first time had a SRC that was made up of students from Sadesmo on the one hand, and Sasco and its allies in the Progressive Youth Alliance on the other.

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