Thursday, 04 November 2021

Bloemfontein: Professor Bonang Francis Mohale was officially inaugurated as the eighth Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS) on 4 November 2021.

Prof Mohale, who took up his five-year term in June 2020, has served in the role for the past 17 months. Prof Mohale takes over from Dr Khotso Mokhele, who served as Chancellor of the UFS from June 2010 until June 2020.

“The UFS Council appointed the right person for the job, the right person for this university, in this country, at this particular time. The values that Prof Mohale embodies, which he is known to advocate from various platforms – in written media and virtual spaces – and which he actively lives out, are the values that the UFS cherish and embrace. Values such as respect, empathy, equality, solidarity, diversity, and caring,” said Mr David Noko, Chairperson of the UFS Council.

Guests in attendance included fellow academics and industry leaders who assembled in the Odeion Theatre on the Bloemfontein Campus to witness the official public inauguration, while a large audience witnessed the ceremony and proceedings via live stream in compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.

In attendance were Andile Nomlala, President of the Black Management Forum; Dr Sipho Pityana, former President of Business Unity South Africa and recipient of an honorary doctorate from the UFS; Judge Faan Hancke, former Chairperson of the UFS Council; Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Chancellor of the University of Cape Town; Justice Edwin Cameron, Chancellor of Stellenbosch University; Prof Njabulo Ndebele, Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg; Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, Chancellor of the Tshwane University of Technology; Justice Mahube Molemela, Chancellor of the Central University of Technology and Judge of the Constitutional Court; Prof Andrew Crouch, Vice-Chancellor of the Sol Plaatje University; and Dr Jerry Mofokeng, recipient of an honorary doctorate from the UFS, among others.

In congratulating Prof Mohale, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, acknowledged the contributions he made.

“We are immensely privileged to have Prof Mohale as part of the UFS family. Since his appointment in June 2020, Prof Mohale has made valuable contributions to the UFS on many levels. He has joined the university during a pivotal time in its development. Over the next five years, we envisage to become a more inclusive, diverse, and engaged university, driven by impact and visibility, embracing our community-focused role, as well as our global responsibility,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

In his inaugural address, Prof Mohale emphasised that the challenges facing higher education were linked to the broader challenges facing South Africa, namely, poor economic growth, high youth unemployment, and the paralysing effect of the ‘nine wasted years’ of state capture.

“The student protests and service delivery protests are a symptom of many societal ills and failures. While government may have had the resources – financially and technically – to map a way forward for the higher education sector, its ability to implement is severely constrained by political leadership and insufficient capacity,” said Prof Mohale.

According to Prof Mohale, “We have not transformed socially and economically, and the disparities in income, wealth, and opportunities continue to hit the 15- to 34-year-olds the hardest. Our institutions are simply a microcosm of these broader socioeconomic fissures and fault lines”.

“The fundamentals of future higher education institutions should be values such as respect, empathy, equality, and solidarity that support and prepare learners for life, to be better citizens, to be more aware of their societal and civic responsibilities and role in the environment and not only for livelihood,” said Prof Mohale.

The proceedings can be found on the university’s official YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qez0sns0NX4

Bonang Mohale is the President of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Professor of Practice in the Johannesburg Business School’s (JBS) College of Business and Economics, Chairman of both the Bidvest Group Limited and SBV Services.

He is a highly respected South African businessman, known as much for his patriotism as his active role in seeking to advance the country’s interests.

He is the author of the best-selling book, Lift As You Rise, launched in November 2018; it is a compilation of some of his spoken and written words in which Prof Mohale reveals the issues that he is passionate about – among them leadership, transformation, people development, constructive collaboration, and integrity.

From left to right: Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), Prof Bonang Francis Mohale, Chancellor of the UFS, and Mr David Noko, Chairperson of UFS Council.