UCT sorry for nonracialism clanger in article about transformation

17 September 2020 - 13:39 By TimesLIVE
UCT promotes nonracialism, it said on September 17 after an article on its website erroneously said the opposite.
UCT promotes nonracialism, it said on September 17 after an article on its website erroneously said the opposite.
Image: Twitter/UCT Student

The University of Cape Town apologised on Thursday for an article on its website which said it was opposed to nonracialism.

After being questioned on social media, UCT corrected the article to say it actually promoted nonracialism.

What the article on UCT's website initially said.
What the article on UCT's website initially said.
Image: Twitter

A tweet from the university said: “In the initial version of this article, we inadvertently published a phrase suggesting that UCT was against the constitutional principle of nonracialism.

“This was an editorial error, for which we take full responsibility. The article has been amended. UCT remains committed to promoting nonracialism and to inclusivity. We deeply regret the error.”

DA MP Michael Cardo drew attention to the error with a tweet that said: “UCT will 'say no to nonracialism', one of the institution's fundamental values and the constitutional value on which our democratic state is founded. Hopefully this is just a case of misreporting.”

After the apology was published, Cardo tweeted: “Great. Thanks. Glad to hear it.”

What the article says after being corrected.
What the article says after being corrected.
Image: UCT

The error appeared in an article about UCT's Vision 2030 strategy, which is based on excellence, transformation and sustainability.

The article said: “UCT’s proposed vision is to become an institution that unleashes human potential for a fair and just society.

“The university aims to make a distinct contribution in the following areas:

  • Provide holistic, innovative and future-orientated education;
  • Conduct research that addresses Afrika’s* challenges and contributes to global knowledge;
  • Offer thought leadership; and
  • Inculcate an organisational ethos that supports new and diverse ways of thinking, doing and being.”
UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng.
Image: Esa Alexander

An explanation at the end of the article said: “UCT’s choice to spell Afrika in this way is an invitation to reclaim Afrika’s agency and use it to validate the global character of the local in the 21st century.”

Vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng was reported to have told a staff meeting about Vision 2030 that excellence needed transformation to make it sustainable.

“Transformation is what’s going to enable us to see excellence emerging. We’ve got to hold these two pillars together. That’s the only way we’ll be able to ensure sustainable success for the university,” she said.

“Reinvention is necessary for [UCT] to remain competitive and sustainable. We want to be proactive, initiate the change, decide who we want to be as a university and how we are going to distinguish ourselves in the midst of many other institutions.”

Deputy vice-chancellor for transformation Loretta Feris was reported to have told staff: “The huge transformative purpose that we ended up with as part of this think space was this: Redress inequality and build social justice through targeted strategies to return dignity and amplify voice.”

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