University of Johannesburg appoints Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as its Chancellor

Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

The Council of the University of Johannesburg (UJhas announced the appointment of former United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, as its new Chancellor. Her five-year term of office will run from 1 October 2022 until 30 September 2027. She will succeed Professor Njabulo Ndebele, whose second five-year term as Chancellor ends 30 September 2022.

Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was a member of the first South African democratically elected Parliament in 1994, first as Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (1994 – 1996) and as Minister of Minerals and Energy (1999 – 2005). She later became the Deputy President of South Africa (2005 – 2008), the highest-ranking female political leader in the history of the country.

Throughout her illustrious political career, Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka directed her energy towards issues of human rights, equality, and social justice, with a specific emphasis on gender and youth development. She has a track record of giving back to her communities, dating back to the pre-1994 years when she was a teacher and a lecturer. She continued in this vein when she moved to Geneva, where she took up the position of coordinator at the World YCWA, a grassroots-driven, global movement rooted in the leadership of women, young women, and girls. While in this role, she established a programme for young women (1984 – 1989), among other roles.

Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women in 2013. As the head of the United Nations entity that is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, she was a global advocate for women and girls. She led the organisation’s innovative work on transforming social inequalities and discriminatory norms, with initiatives such as the HeforShe movement (driving men and boys’ engagement in gender equality), the UnStereotype Alliance initiative (influencing advertising norms for positive change and equal representation) and helped countries to change hundreds of laws that discriminate against women and girls.

Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka has also successfully mobilised a historic 40 billion USD in financial commitments from Member States, private sector, philanthropies and civil society as well as young people, which have formed Generational Equality to drive transformative change for women and girls around the world. She continues to be engaged and affiliated with organisations committed to education, women empowerment, and gender equality. Such affiliations include the Umlambo Foundation (Founder), the Global Partnership and Fund to End Violence Against Children (BoardMember), African Leadership Academy (Member of the Advisory Board) and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (Board of Trustees).

Details of D.r Mlambo-Ngcuka’s inauguration will be announced later. Says UJ Registrar, Professor Kinta Burger: “UJ’s approach to impact reflects the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – something that Dr. Mlambo-Ngcuka, in her capacity as UN Executive Director of UN Women, has cherished and led. Indeed, she embodies all the UJ values and aspirations, values, where equality, diversity and inclusivity have been part of the University’s success story.”

The Chair of UJ Council, Mr. Mike Teke, says: “The position of Chancellor at UJ demands a person of stature, exemplary moral and ethical values, someone who will not shy away from addressing some of our greatest challenges and someone who will speak for those who often have no voice in society. Such a person is indeed Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka. She is a distinguished person with a demonstrable record of excellence, leadership for the betterment of society, and service to her community. We look forward to her contribution towards our vision: An international University of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future”.

Teke also paid tribute to the outgoing Chancellor, Prof Ndebele. “Prof Njabulo Ndebele has immensely contributed to UJ’s strategic direction and its growth trajectory on the research front with admirable research outputs. This has helped the University in positioning itself as an important player in the higher education sector, both locally and internationally.”

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, the UJ Vice-Chancellor and Principal, is also pleased with Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka’s appointment. “As the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President in South Africa, Dr  Mlambo-Ngcuka provided political oversight to several programmes to combat poverty and bring advantages of a growing economy to the poor. In doing so, she embraced the technologies that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) provides, using ICTs for development. She would, therefore, be a most excellent ambassador for UJ’s approach for social justice and 4IR.”