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On the 24th of April 2015, Council appointed a new University Chancellor in the person of Honourable Ambassador Sheila M. Sisulu with immediate effect. On behalf of the University Council, we wish to thank and congratulate Honourable Ambassador Sheila M. Sisulu and pledge our support in her new role for Walter Sisulu University.
My professional life has been shaped by my commitment to social justice and equity, an
understanding of the impact of history on individuals and society, a tenacity that I believe has enabled me to persuade others of fresh perspectives on difficult issues. As an educator, an advocate for the marginalised, especially women and youth, I strongly believe in and am passionate about the power of people to change their world – once they see how to engage positively with the challenges around them.
Indeed my professional profile below demonstrates how this deep belief in the power of individuals and community has enabled me in a varied career which spans more than three decades and as an agent for social change, to persuade influential individuals, institutions and movements to see things in new ways and to act on that insight for the public good.
In 1975, and as a direct consequence of apartheid policies and practices in education, I
cut short my professional career as a teacher in the mainstream education system of
South Africa to dedicate 10 years of my professional career and skills to the anti
apartheid movement focussing, especially on the fight to end the apartheid education
system, through advocacy and community organisation, and forming coalitions and
partnerships to engage the regime.
In 1978 I joined the South African Committee on Higher Education (SACHED) holding
various director positions including head and director of Turret College, a programme of
SACHED designed to provide young men and women targeted and persecuted by the
regime, opportunities to receive alternative, progressive and quality education and
qualifications that would prepare and enable them to further their studies both in exile
and in South Africa. Many of the young graduates of Turret College were to become agents of change in the anti apartheid movement and to rise to influential positions in post apartheid South Africa.
From 1988 and for a further 6 years, I served on the Senior Executive Leadership Team
of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) first as Education Coordinator
leading the effort to persuade Church Leaders to engage and participate in the efforts of
progressive civil society organisations in order to influence new strategies and tactics to end the apartheid education system through forward thinking and planning for a new, equitable and inclusive education system that would serve the needs of a liberated South Africa.
A greater part of the 6 years I served as Director of a joint youth advocacy and
development programme of the Southern African Catholics Bishops’ Conference
(SACBC) and the SACC – the Joint Enrichment Project (JEP) which at first served as a
safety net for at risk, school age youth who had lost out on formal education during at the
height of the fight against apartheid education by students and youth and at that point lacked skills to navigate the dawn of a new and open society.
During the four years of my leadership, the JEP involved young women and men, youth
organisations of all races, political or other affiliations from across the country directly to
participate in consultations that served to inform and influence the deliberations of the
national political negotiations and ensure that youth needs and expectations were articulated by the youth themselves and their voices heard and that strategies and planning for youth development formed an integral part of the deliberations for new a new dispensation in South Africa.
The national youth consultations heavily relied on the results of a path-breaking national
study on the state of youth in South Africa commissioned by the JEP in 1992. Some of the
outcomes of the youth consultation process included the launch of, among others, the Young Women’s Network, the South African Youth Council and the National Youth Initiative. These initiatives prefigured many of the youth serving and development institutions and programmes that followed after the 1994 elections.
In 1994 I was invited to serve in the new Government of South Africa under the
leadership of President Nelson Mandela as a Ministerial Advisor to the National
Minister of Education, initially focussing on the process to repeal the laws that had been
used to establish a fragmented education system consisting of eighteen ethnic departments of education and lay the basis for legislation to establish one unitary educations system.
Later I focussed the process to formulate new policies on gender and education, early
childhood education and care within the context of a broader process focussing on women
headed households, the development of school meals programme as part of President
Mandela’s priority and flagship programmes and the development of school based
programmes for the prevention of the spread of HIV and AIDS.
In 1997 I was appointed by President Nelson Mandela first to serve as South
Africa’s Consul General in New York and then in 1999 as South Africa’s first woman
Ambassador to the United States of America in Washington DC. In addition to
representing the interests of South Africa, I successfully championed a number of regional
and sub-regional issues including enlisting greater and urgent relief and support for the flood and drought affected countries in Southern Africa in 2002 and 2003.
In early 2003 I joined the World Food Programme in Rome as Deputy Executive
Director and remain in that position to date. Initially my responsibilities included Policy,
Strategy and External Relations and also oversight of the Executive Board Secretariat. I was keenly interested in the development of policies on gender, mother and child health, HIV and AIDS as these related to food and nutrition security.
From 2007 to 2013 I was the Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions. In this regard, I was responsible for repositioning WFP in its role as a food assistance programme supporting country-led national food and nutrition security strategies for long term hunger solutions using innovative tools and sustainable approaches aimed at breaking the cycle of hunger, especially among small holder poor farmers, the majority of whom in host countries, are women.
In 2013 February I retired From the UN World Food Programme, after which, in September 2013 to 2014 March I joined the Special Envoy in the Ministry of Agriculture.
Since 2013 January until now, I’ve been a member of the Yara Selection Committee for Agriculture Prize in Africa. Since that same year to date, I’ve also held a position as an executive board member of the African Government Institute.
In March 2014, I became part of the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa, serving in the High Level Panel for Advocacy. EDUCATION AND TRAINING
I hold a Post Graduate Degree in Education from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) (1990). I also have a Bachelor of Arts and Certificate in Education from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS) in Lesotho acquired in 1974.
In 1993 I trained in the Covey Principles of Effective Leadership in Johannesburg.
I matriculated at St Michaels High School in Swaziland in 1968. HONOURS AND AWARDS AND FELLOWSHIPS
I have honorary doctorates from numerous institutions, including the City University of New York (1999); University of Maryland (2000); a fellowship from the Allan Pyfier United States/South Africa Leadership Programme (1987) NON EXECUTIVE POSITIONS – BOARDS AND ORGANISATIONS
I’m a founding member of the South African Women’s Development Banking initiative started in 1992. I was also a member of the International Women’s Forum in 2002.
In 1992 I was elected senior vice president of the South African Council of Churches, amongst many other roles.
My references include Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Programme;
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (Former South African Home Affairs Minister and Foreign Affairs minister); world-renowned social activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu; as well as former first lady Graca Machel (married to South African struggle icon Nelson Mandela)
THE COUNCIL The Council, which governs the university within the confines of the Higher Education Act 1997 (Act No 101 of 1997) and University Statute as per Government Gazette No 37235, was officially inducted on 1 May 2014. The council members are:
1. Judge N Dambuza: Ministerial Appointee (Chairperson)
2. Mr S Khondlo: Ministerial Appointee (Deputy chairperson)
3. Mrs CC Mulder: Elected by the Council
4. Ms NY Tyamzashe: Elected by the Council
5. Dr L Mpahlwa: Representative of Convocation
6. Mr TS Zakuza: Elected by the Council
7. Mr L Holbrook: Ministerial Appointee
8. Professor Bongani Mayosi: Ministerial Appointee
9. Mr LN Capa: Ministerial Appointee
10. Ms GT Serobe: Elected by the Council
11. Dr VF Mahlati: Elected by the Council
12. Professor R Midgley: Vice-Chancellor and Principal
13. Ms N Bam
15. Dr P Jaca: Senate Representative
16. Mr A Sepeng: Senate Representative
17. Professor BS Nakani: Non-Senate Academic Representative
18. Mr S Tshangela: Non-Senate non-Academic Representative