The University of Venda honoured Adv Mojanku Gumbi as its sixth and first female Chancellor during a momentous inauguration ceremony held on Friday, 18 February 2022 at the University Auditorium. The University Council appointed Adv Gumbi as the UNIVEN Chancellor with effect from 01 January 2020 to 31 May 2024. However, her installation was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a hybrid event that was streamed live on UNIVEN social media platforms.
Adv. Gumbi takes over the reins from the former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe who has served two terms as UNIVEN Chancellor.
In her inauguration acceptance speech, she thanked the community that makes up the University of Venda, led by the University Council, for the distinctive honour extended to her to be elected as the Chancellor of this outstanding centre of learning. She said “ It is an honour that I accept with humility, in particular because I follow in the hallowed footsteps of one of the outstanding sons of our country, Ntate Walter Sisulu, as well as those of Presidents Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa and Kgalema Motlanthe”.
The inauguration of the Chancellor coincides with the University of Venda’s 40th anniversary, celebrated under the theme 40 years of academic excellence in the rural setting.
The chancellor is the titular head of the university and confers degrees during university graduations.
“This role has given me the distinct honour of being part of a ground-breaking initiative that brings together current and former Chancellors of Universities to harness their collective wisdom in the interest of higher education. It is an initiative which, while recognising the status of Chancellors as titular heads of Universities, seeks to bring them into a common forum in aid of universities. We are encouraged by the support that this initiative has received from Vice-Chancellors, and we will be working with them and Chairpersons of Council to refine its work” says Adv Gumbi.
In her speech, she touched on several issues relating to social, economic, and political.
She indicated that a number of the UNIVEN alumni reached out to her when they learnt about her inauguration event. Adv Gumbi congratulated all those involved in shaping these young minds, and the students who have maintained the very high standards set by the alumni of this university.
Adv Gumbi was also accompanied by the UNIVEN alumni, former Miss South Africa, Basetsana Kumalo, who in her time went on to represent the young people of this country globally in proudly embracing African beauty. “She felt compelled to be with us today to lend her presence in celebrating this University that made a huge impact in shaping who she is today”, concluded Adv Gumbi.
In his welcome remarks as the University Chairperson of Council, Mr Juneas Lekgetha said “after 40 years of leadership led by male-only chancellors, the UNIVEN community has finally made the politically relevant choice and discovered that a female chancellor would indeed be rationally correct. We finally have a mother in the house. There will no longer be the burning of meat, which remain tasteless in our plates”.
He continued to say “this is one of the first of the many events that will be celebrated in lieu of our 40th Anniversary. Whilst we reflect on the first graduation cohort of 1985 graduations, only two female students graduated. Today, more than 60% of each graduation constitutes females; and this shows how successful we have been in attracting interest amongst our society. It is not just attracting females, but many of our scarce skills qualification categories have now celebrated an increase in female graduates in our institution. Our contribution to the national skills requirement has been immensely predominated by female graduates”.
When introducing the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda, Dr Bernard Nthambeleni mentioned that, of the three shortlisted candidates, Adv Gumbi’s name came up on top and this was due to her impeccable track record as human rights lawyer, who has worked both as an Attorney and Advocate and has over 30 years of experience in private practice, public policy development and African conflict resolution.
After the July 2021 violence that took place in Kwazulu-Natal and Gauteng Provinces, Adv Gumbi was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a member of the Presidential Panel to investigate the July violence.
Adv Gumbi served as the Chairperson and now Member of the Home Affairs Ministerial Panel investigating Government Printing Works.
She also serves as the Interim Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of South African Tourism board. She is a Member of the Tourism Ministerial Panel to review Tourism Policy.
Dr Nthambeleni indicated that Adv Gumbi is a selfless, ethical leader who places the well-being and success of the University over her own personal gain and success. He told the audience that the Chancellor said the University should not spend funds from its government grant for her inauguration and offered to pay the cost for this ceremony from her pocket.
“We look forward to her leadership and guidance in the years to come”, says Dr Nthambeleni.
Congratulatory messages came from UNIVEN SRC President, Mr Smile Manganyi; SENATE representative, Prof Ntebogeng Mokgalaka-Fleischmann; Universities South Africa (USAF) CEO, Prof Ahmed Bawa who delivered the message virtually; Executive Mayor of Vhembe District Municipality represented by Cllr Shonisani Sinyosi, Portfolio Head Community Services and the Traditional Leaders’ represented by Thovhele Nthumeni Masia.
Esteemed guests present included among others, members of the chancellor’s family and friends, University of Johannesburg Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala; retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke; esteemed members in the judiciary and in the field of law, former Chair of UNIVEN Council, Mr Serobi Maja; former UNIVEN Vice-Chancellor and current Vice-Chancellor of Sefako Makgatho University, Prof Peter Mbati; UNIVEN Council members, traditional and religious leaders as well as sponsors and donors.
This august event commenced with the traditional performances and UNIVEN choir led by Dr Aubrey Khosa entertained the audience.
UNIVEN Choir in action
UNIVEN SRC President, Smile Manganyi when congratulating the Chancellor
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Date: 20 February 2022