Keynote Provocateurs

Vice Chancellor’s Keynote Panel

Prof Saleem Badat

Prof Saleem Badat is a Research Professor at the College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has been Program Director: International Higher Education & Strategic Projects at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York. After 10 years at the University of Western Cape as Director of the Education Policy Unit, he was appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer of the Council on Higher Education, which advises the South African Minister of Higher Education & Training on higher education policy issues. In June 2006, Prof Badat was appointed as the first black Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University. Prof Badat has written several papers concerned with questions of equity, redress, and social justice in and through universities, and the decolonization and transformation of universities in societies that were colonized. He has delivered keynote and other addresses at conferences and seminars around the world. He has also served on numerous boards, commissions, and committees, including as chairperson of Higher Education South Africa (now: Universities South Africa) and the Association of African Universities Scientific Committee on Higher Education. Prof Badat has received several honorary degrees during his career from the University of the Free State, the University of York, and Rhodes University.

Prof Sakhela Buhlungu (UFH)

Prof Buhlungu is a Professor of Sociology and the current VC of the University of Fort Hare. He previously held the positon of Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Cape Town. He held academic positions from multiple South African universities. University of Fort Hare. Previously he was Dean of Humanities at the universities of Cape Town. Before that he held senior academic and administrative positions at the Universities of Pretoria, Johannesburg and Witwatersrand. He is the author of several books, numerous book chapters and scholarly journal articles. He has presented research papers at conferences across the world. In 2005 he spent time at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst as a visiting researcher at the African Scholars Programme.

Dr Sizwe Mabizela

Sizwe Mabizela is the Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University. Prior to assuming this position in 2014, he was the Deputy ViceChancellor: Academic & Student Affairs at Rhodes University. He has authored and coauthored several research papers in his field of interest, and these have been published in international journals. He has also presented several keynote/invited addresses at national and international conferences. He rose through the academic ranks to the level of Associate Professor and Deputy Head of Department. In 2004 he was offered and accepted the headship of, and full professorship in, the Department of Mathematics (Pure & Applied) at Rhodes University.

Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, PhD(Wits), Hon DSc (Bristol), MASSAf, GCOB, FAAS

Mamokgethi Phakeng (formerly Setati) began her term of office as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town on 1 July 2018, where she had been serving as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation since January 2017. Previous to this appointment she served as Vice Principal for Research and Innovation at the University of South Africa (Unisa) for five years, after serving three years as Executive Dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at the same university. She holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a highly regarded B1 NRF-rated scientist with over 80 research papers and five edited volumes published. She has been invited to deliver over 40 keynote/plenary talks at international conferences, and as a visiting professor in universities around the world (in Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Italy, Jamaica, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Senegal, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA). She has won numerous awards for her research and community work, including the Order of the Baobab (Silver) conferred on her by the President of South Africa in April 2016. In August 2014 CEO magazine named her the most influential woman academic in Africa, in August 2016 she was awarded the prestigious Businesswoman of the Year Award in the education category and in 2020 she was included in Forbes’ inaugural list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Africa. In July 2019 the University of Bristol conferred on her an Honorary Doctorate in Science in recognition of her leadership role in mathematics education in South Africa.

Higher Education Activist Panel

Ntando Sindane

Ntando Sindane is an academic, researcher, and activist based in Mangaung, South Africa. He writes for, and is editor of various South African Law academic journals. He is also Assistant Editor at Decolonial Passage Literary Magazine.

His research interests include decolonisation, particularly in relation to the pedagogical framework of the intellectual property law curriculum in South African universities.

He holds the LLB and LLM degrees from the University of South Africa and is currently making preparations towards a PhD degree in Intellectual Property Law. His LLM dissertation is titled, “The Call to Decolonise Higher Education: Copyright Law Through an African Lens.” He is an ardent follower of Test Cricket, and an undying supporter of Kaizer Chiefs Football club, #Amakhosi4Life!

Ms Athe’nkosi Sopitshi

Ms Athe’nkosi Sopithsi holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of Cape Town. She previously held the position of Manager Monitoring and Communications at the DG Murray Trust. She is Head of Province for Equal education (Eastern Cape), a social movement that fights for the transformation of education and schools in South Africa. She describes herself as a social activist, disruptor and a relentless optimist. She believes in equal access to quality education, healthcare and work opportunities. She has dedicated her career to developing programmatic solutions that get people closer to living dignified lives. She lives by the words of Angela that “we need to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it ALL the time.

Molaodi wa Sekake

Molaodi wa Sekake is a scholar-activist and an artist. He is a research fellow at the Centre for Communist Studies ( CCS) based in Canada, USA, Ireland, Australia and India. He is the editorial member of the scholarly journal called Peace, Land and Bread. He is the author of Meditations from the Gutter and upcoming two volume work titled Socialism Nomuntu Omusha – Taking the Oath of Revolution.

Stakeholder Engagement Panel

Dr Britta Zawada

Britta Zawada completed her first degrees at SU, majoring in Linguistics, and then did her MA and D Litt et Phil in Linguistics at UNISA. She also holds postgraduate qualifications in teaching (from UP) and Distance Education and e-Learning (from the University of Maryland in the USA). After 5 years as a technical editor at the Council for Geoscience, she joined UNISA as a junior lecturer. In her 33 years at UNISA, she progressed to becoming the Chair of the Department of Linguistics, then the Director of the School of Arts, in the last 8 years at UNISA serving as the Deputy Executive Dean of the College of Human Sciences with the portfolios of teaching and learning, community engagement, quality assurance, and marketing and communication. Britta has presented nationally and internationally at conferences, has published 16 articles and a book, as well as supervising both masters and doctoral students in Cognitive Linguistics. She also served as the President of the Linguistics Society of South Africa. She is currently the Director for Institutional Audits at the Council on Higher Education.

Dr Thandi Lewin

Dr Thandi Lewin works in the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as the Chief Director for Institutional Governance and Management Support in the University Education Branch. Her responsibilities include student funding policy, oversight of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), university governance oversight, and student development and support matters, amongst other areas. Since February 2021, she has been acting as the Deputy Director-General for University Education.

Previously, she coordinated the development of a National Plan for Post-School Education and Training. Prior to that she worked for JET Education Services, where she was responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation; and the Department of Education, as a Chief Director for Equity in Education and later for University Policy. She has also worked in the non-profit, university, and philanthropic sectors. Her work has been broadly in the field of higher education policy and education and social justice. She holds a Bachelor of Social Science degree from the University of Cape Town, a Masters in Education and International Development from University College London Institute of Education, and a PhD from the University of the Free State.

Prof Diane Grayson

Professor Diane Grayson joined Wits University in March 2018 as Senior Director: Academic Affairs, responsible for teaching, student learning, student success, academic development, quality assurance and access. She has a PhD in Physics from the University of Washington and is Personal Professor in Physics at Wits. For most of her career she worked in STEM education, at KZN, UNISA, UP and a specialist STEM Education College in Limpopo, in various roles, including Professor, Manager, Director and Academic Vice-Rector. She is passionate about teaching and student success, and takes a scholarly approach to her work. From 2013-7 she was Director: Institutional Audits at the CHE, where she led the Quality Enhancement Project, a national project to improve student success systemically, and served on the CHE-HELTASA teaching awards committee. She has received university teaching awards from UKZN and UP, and in 2021 was recognized as Principal Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy for her leadership role in Higher Education. She is chair of the National Coordinating Committee responsible for implementing the DHET’s National Framework for Enhancing Academics as University Teachers.

Dr Linda Meyer

Dr Linda Meyer is the Head of Operations at Universities South Africa (USAf). Linda holds a Doctor of Philosophy (RSA), Doctor of Business Administration (USA), Masters of Business Administration (UK), Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies (UK), Bachelor of Business Administration, B.Com (Law) and several other Diplomas and Higher Certificates and professional certifications. A serving member of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Board and Audit and Risk Committee, the ETDP SETA (HE – Chamber) Board, the QCTO-Occupational Qualifications, Assessment and Certification Committee (OQACC), the Higher Health Technical Task Team (TTT) on Gender-Based Violence and the DHET Future Professors Programme (FPP) National Advisory Board and the DHET Coordinating Committee for Mutual Recognition of Qualifications.

Dr Meyer served on various governance structures (past and present) including, the South African Magistrates Commission, South African Qualifications Authority, Higher-Health, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD), Services SETA, SA SMME Foundation, South African Private Higher Education (SAPHE), DHET, ETDP SETA etc.

Former positions include the Head of Justice College (DoJ&CD), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Executive Dean, Dean, Academic Executive, Acting Deputy Director-General, Chief Director, CCMA Commissioner and various other senior and executive management and consulting positions. A published author thought leader and a regular media guest and speaker at industry conferences.

Decolonial Praxis Panel

Simamkele Dlakavu

Simamkele is PhD Candidate in Political Science under the SARChI Chair in Gender Politics at Stellenbosch University. She is also a part-time lecturer in Gender Studies at the University of Cape Town, where she has contributed to the formulation and the lecturing of undergraduate and post-graduate courses such as: “Development, Conflict and Political Change,” “Gender and The Politics of Development,” and “Theories, Politics, Action.” She holds a Master of Arts in African Literature (with distinction) from Wits University and has been an active participant in student movements calling for an intersectional decolonial reality in South Africa- where all forms of oppression matter. She is the former Media and Communications Manager for Oxfam South Africa. Simamkele has also worked as a human rights television producer on one of South Africa’s most popular current affairs show: The Big Debate. In addition, she has written for South Africa’s leading newspapers such as City Press and co-edited a Special Issue of the Agenda Journal titled: “Feminisms and Women’s Resistance within Contemporary African Student Movements” (2016).

Siseko Kumalo

Siseko received his formative training from Rhodes University where he read in Political and International Studies, Anthropology and Philosophy, and was awarded the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in his Honours year (2017). He is a Lecturer of Philosophy at the University of Fort Hare and holds a Master of Arts (Cum Laude) in Political Philosophy from the University of Pretoria’s Department of Political Sciences and is reading for a PhD in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria. His PhD looks at how to model an inclusive national identity in South Africa using the work of William Wellington Gqoba and SEK Mqhayi. He is the recipient of the Harvard South African Fellowship commencing in September 2022 and a Mail & Guardian Top 200 Young South African, 2020 (in the category of Education).

Xolani Dube

Xolani Dube is a student activist, an academic and a researcher by his own right. He is a former president of the 2016/17 SRC in the University of KwaZulu Natal Edgewood Campus.

He is an educator by profession, he holds a B.Ed and Hons in Education. He is currently studying towards his Master’s in Education. He greatly holds a firm belief on the decolonial agenda and his activism is centred around decolonisation.

Camalita Naicker

Camalita Naicker is a lecturer and a PhD candidate in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Cape Town. She holds an MA in Political Studies from Rhodes University. She has been involved in various forms of student-based and other organisations, both popular and institutional. Her research focuses on popular politics in contemporary histories of land and labour struggles in South Africa. She has written on the Marikana Massacre; #Feesmustfall and gender and ethnicity in the trade union movement.

Reflective Praxis Panel: Shaping the HE Academic Project through Grounded Praxis

Michael Samuel

Professor Michael Samuel (School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal) is currently involved in designing and supporting postgraduate studies and mentoring capacity development of supervisors in a range of contexts nationally and across the continent. His research interests include higher education studies, curriculum development and professional development. His books, Changing patterns of teacher education in South Africa and Continuity, complexity and change: Teacher education in Mauritius explore the challenges of (inter)national reform initiatives in teacher education policy development. Disrupting higher education curriculum: Undoing cognitive damage explores options for imaginative curriculum redirection.

Dr Oliver Seale

Oliver Seale is a leadership development specialist, lecturer and researcher. He is the Director of Higher Education Leadership and Management (HELM) at Universities South Africa (USAf). He holds a PhD in Leadership Development from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Oliver is a research associate at the Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies at the University of Johannesburg. His first book titled, ‘Deanship in the Global South: Bridging Troubled Waters,’ was published by Brill Sense in February 2021

Kibbie Naidoo

Kibbie Naidoo is Director of the Centre for Academic Staff Development at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the Programme Convenor for the Teaching Advancement at Universities (TAU) Fellowship Programme and the South African Universities Learning and Teaching (SAULT) Forum. Her research interests include rurality, curriculum development, scholarship of teaching and learning and social justice in higher education.

Siya Sabata

Siya Sabata is the acting Head of Department, Staff Development Unit at the Fundani Centre for Higher Education Development. He is the co-founder and the leader of CPUT curriculum decolonial group which is using GAs project as a mechanism to drive curriculum change. He is also teaching in a Post Graduate Diploma in Higher Education (PGDiP), a collaborative programme in the Western Cape Province. Siya is a critical realist scholar inspired by philosophy of the late Roy Bhaskar and works in a field of academic staff development (AD). Siya holds M Ed degree from the University of Cape Town and his scholarship draws on the tradition of sociology of education, in particular the trend of social realism developed by Karl Maton, in his Legitimation Code Theory (LCT). Siya is currently developing linkages between LCT and the Racial Contract, of Charles. W. Mills to strengthen the external language of description necessary to engage with social practices in a racialised HE context.