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Reflections of South African University Leaders: 1981 to 2014

The inspiration for this collection arose in late 2013 in the Council on Higher Education’s (CHE) Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, the directorate responsible for conducting research on the higher education landscape and monitoring the state of the sector over time. They noted that conditions besetting universities had grown increasingly complex, both globally but more especially locally, and the question arose – how had this altered the challenges to university leadership over the period, say, between the new political dispensation ushered in in 1994 and the second decade of the new millennium? More particularly, how had leaders with a proven track record of visionary and strong leadership during this period faced these challenges? How did they see the main changes that needed dealing with? What challenges did these changes pose and how were they successfully overcome? What did they think, looking back, were the main constituents of successful leadership and management? What wisdom could be distilled for posterity? The Directorate decided to invite a range of vice-chancellors and senior academic leaders who had completed their terms of office to contribute to a project that set out to gather such reflections and compile them into a publication.

Much has been written about the ever-growing demands on university leadership worldwide in the face of increasingly complex changes and challenges from within the academy and beyond. However, as we are reminded by Johan Muller in the Introduction to this book, “there are particular features of time and place that also throw up unique problems”. It is precisely ‘time and place’ that make this set of reflections by university leaders quite remarkable and distinguishes it from the many biographies to be found in the literature on higher education leadership. … In the main, this collection spans two decades, the 1990s and 2000s, of unprecedented levels of change in South African higher education. Leaders in universities, as well as those responsible for higher education policy in the government and associated statutory bodies, had no neat script to work off, nor ‘manuals’ or prescripts of ‘good’ leadership or practice. Instead, there was palpable excitement about collectively imagining and nurturing a new post-apartheid higher education system, which would contribute to the social and economic development needs of the country, the deepening of democracy and which would also be globally relevant.

Most reflections touch on the coalface of leadership, which is the face-to-face interactional dimension, dealing with staff, with students, with council chairs. What comes through clearly, is the importance of what are sometimes called ‘people skills’. In these accounts this is not simply presented as a human relations aptitude, for a number of reasons, first of which is the special nature of universities and their occupants. More than one points out the special challenge of managing the talented people that are academics, and their inbuilt distaste for bureaucracy, their reluctance to be managed or told what to do. The message here is consistently one of needing to be completely open with academics, the importance of maintaining the distinction between ‘collegial’ and ‘executive’ management (avoiding ‘managerialism’), and the critical importance of winning and holding their trust.

Student Politics in Africa: Representation and Activism

The second volume of the African Higher Education Dynamics Series brings together the research of an international network of higher education scholars with interest in higher education and student politics in Africa. Most authors are early career academics who teach and conduct research in universities across the continent and came together for a research project, and related workshops and a symposium on student representation in African higher education governance.

The book includes theoretical chapters on student organising, student activism and representation; chapters on historical and current developments in student politics in Anglophone and Francophone Africa, and in-depth case studies on student representation and activism in a cross-section of universities and countries.

The book provides a unique resource for academics, university leaders and student affairs professionals as well as student leaders and policy-makers in Africa and elsewhere.

Election Management Bodies in East Africa

The management of elections is increasingly generating impassioned debate in these East African nations – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The bodies that manage and conduct elections are, therefore, coming under intense citizen and stakeholder scrutiny for the manner in which they are composed, how they organise and perform their mandates, and the outcomes they achieve.

The effectiveness of electoral management bodies (EMBs) has largely been influenced by the impact of political violence on election management reforms in East Africa. Even in countries where EMBs are the products of reforms initiated in the aftermath of violent disputes over elections, they still face enormous challenges in dealing with electoral disputes and anticipating election-related crises. Although changes to constitutions and the laws in these countries have sought to make EMBs independent and, therefore, more inclined to deliver free, fair and credible elections, there are many issues that determine their impartiality and their ability to allow for the aggregation and free expression of the will of the people. These shortcomings negatively impact on democracy.

This volume assembles case studies on the capacity of EMBs in these five East African countries to deliver democratic and transparent elections.

Effectiveness of Anti-Corruption Agencies in East Africa: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda

With reportedly over USD50 billion lost annually through graft and illicit practices, combating corruption in Africa has been challenging. However, laws and policies at the continental, regional and national levels have been promulgated and enacted by African leaders. These initiatives have included the establishment of anti-corruption agencies mandated to tackle graft at national level, as well as coordinate bodies at regional and continental levels to ensure the harmonisation of normative standards and the adoption of best practices in the fight against corruption.

Yet, given the disparity between the apparent impunity enjoyed by public servants and the anti-corruption rhetoric of governments in the region, the effectiveness of these agencies is viewed with scepticism. This continent-wide study of anti-corruption agencies aims to gauge their relevance and effectiveness by assessing their independence, mandate, available resources, national ownership, capacities and strategic positioning. These surveys include evidence-based recommendations calling for stronger, more relevant and effective institutions that are directly aligned to regional and continental anti-corruption frameworks, such as the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC), which the three countries in this current report – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – have all ratified.

The Civil Society Guide to Regional Economic Communities in Africa

Since 1963, when the African integration project was born, regional Economic Communities (RECs) have been an indispensable part of the continent’s deeper socioeconomic and political integration. More than half a century later, such regional institutions continue to evolve, keeping pace with an Africa that is transforming itself amid challenges and opportunities. RECs represent a huge potential to be the engines that drive the continent’s economic growth and development as well as being vehicles through which a sense of a continental community is fostered. It is critical therefore that citizens understand the multi-faceted and bureaucratic operations of regional institutions in order to use them to advance their collective interests.

Citizenship Law in Africa: A Comparative Study (3rd edition)

Few African countries provide for an explicit right to a nationality. Laws and practices governing citizenship effectively leave hundreds of thousands of people in Africa without a country. These stateless Africans can neither vote nor stand for office; they cannot enrol their children in school, travel freely, or own property; they cannot work for the government; they are exposed to human rights abuses. Statelessness exacerbates and underlies tensions in many regions of the continent. Citizenship Law in Africa, a comparative study by two programs of the Open Society Foundations, describes the often arbitrary, discriminatory, and contradictory citizenship laws that exist from state to state and recommends ways that African countries can bring their citizenship laws in line with international rights norms. The report covers topics such as citizenship by descent, citizenship by naturalisation, gender discrimination in citizenship law, dual citizenship, and the right to identity documents and passports. It is essential reading for policymakers, attorneys, and activists.

This third edition is a comprehensive revision of the original text, which is also updated to reflect developments at national and continental levels. The original tables presenting comparative analysis of all the continent’s nationality laws have been improved, and new tables added on additional aspects of the law. Since the second edition was published in 2010, South Sudan has become independent and adopted its own nationality law, while there have been revisions to the laws in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child have developed important new normative guidance.