The liberation of UCT is under way

All four candidates who ran on an anti-woke ticket achieved a clean sweep in the University of Cape Town’s alumni election for Council, amid a catastrophic financial situation

Richard Wilkinson


Richard Wilkinson


Apr 29, 2024

The liberation of UCT is under way

The results are in – and the four candidates who ran on a classical liberal / anti-Woke / good governance ticket achieved a clean sweep in the University of Cape Town’s alumni election for Council. Full details are set out below:[1]

The week before the vote – and almost as an afterthought – I decided to write an article endorsing David Ansara, Advocate Mark Oppenheimer, Kelly Phelps and Professor Brian Kantor. David and Mark are old friends of mine from the South African Institute of Race Relations. They are authentic and brave classical liberals for whom I have the highest regard. When they appeared alongside Kelly Phelps and Professor Brian Kantor proposing to restore some semblance of good governance to the University of Cape Town, I immediately reached for my laptop and started writing an endorsement.

I published my article on my website, It was also carried by The Daily Friend (a website run by the South African Institute of Race Relations) and James Myburgh’s Politicsweb as well as by Alec Hogg’s BizNews where it received just over 1,800 views.

I have no idea what impact my article had but, ultimately, our intrepid candidates triumphed, with David winning the fourth and final spot by a single vote. As pleased as I am by their election, I must emphasise that I do not wish to be critical of the other candidates. Indeed, the candidate who lost out to David by a single vote, Hugh Amoore, is a former registrar of the University of Cape Town and is widely regarded as having been one of the finest officials that the university has ever had. I am grateful that he continues to contribute to the university’s affairs.

It is also important not to overstate the impact of this victory. The University of Cape Town’s Council is made up of thirty members, of whom only four are elected by what is called Convocation (i.e. the alumni). I dug into the fine print of the university’s Institutional Rules[2] and discovered that the full composition of Council is as follows:

Having won the four alumni seats, the classical liberal / anti-Woke / good governance caucus now has a strong foothold in the University of Cape Town’s highest governance body. I am confident that we can add the Premier’s and the Mayor’s nominees to their ranks. Previous appointees by the Premier and Mayor have included the excellent Michael Cardo MP, Gareth van Onselen and Advocate Kessler Perumalsamy. That would take the caucus to six and gives rise to an intriguing question: where can we find another 10 votes and thus achieve a majority of 16 seats out of 30 on Council?

I suspect that a good place to look would be the academic and support staff nominees, of whom there are a total of six. Academics obviously have a reputation for being very Leftist but, as with the alumni, I believe that the looniest Wokes are actually a noisy but relatively small minority. I think that the silent majority of academic and support staff would gladly vote for anti-Woke candidates, if given the opportunity.

The way to win might be by focusing on the financial state of the university. The old adage “Go Woke, Go Broke!” applies in great force at the University of Cape Town. A decade of destruction and misgovernance – most notably during the catastrophic tenure of Dr Max Price – has caused the university’s finances to deteriorate. The university’s 2022 income statement indicates a small surplus for the year of R 80 million, but this masks the fact that student fees receivable continues to spiral out of control, with over R 310 million outstanding. This is up 23% from the prior year’s R 252 million,[3] and the university expects to write off an eye-watering 35% of this amount. In other words, a large amount of revenue is being booked but is not – and never will be – turned into cash.

A more realistic depiction of the university’s finances is presented in its cash flow statement, which indicates that the university suffered a staggering net cash outflow of R 223 million in 2022. And the future is not looking bright. According to Vincent Motholo, the university’s Chief Financial Officer, “the medium-term outlook period indicates significant deficits for the period 2023–2025.”[4] In his opinion, “sustaining our organisation without revisiting human resource planning, staffing models, or salary increments will prove exceedingly challenging.”[5]

Compare this to the situation that prevailed in 2014, the year before Dr Max Price rolled out the red carpet for Fallism. Back then, the university achieved a healthy surplus of R 675 million, whilst the cash flow statement showed net cash inflow of R 313 million. Student fees receivable was only R 58 million – one fifth of what it is today.[6]

Employees are already feeling the pinch. In February this year, administrative and support staff went on strike after another year of below-inflation salary increases.[7] Last year, 87% of academic staff voted to strike after they were offered a salary increase of just 3%.[8] Many staff are understandably incensed that the university could find over R 12 million for a golden handshake for the appalling former Vice Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng – just to pay her to go away.[9] Ultimately, the academics and the support staff will need to realise that their salary increases are not going to improve until the Woke ideologues who have run the University of Cape Town into the ground are removed from positions of authority.

The donor category, which has two seats, also looks favourable. Add all of that up and we are on 14 seats out of 30, assuming, of course, that we can replicate the success we had with the alumni and actually win the respective elections.

However, the other side of the ledger looks equally formidable. Firstly, there is the strange constituency of the “Appointments Committee,” which gets to appoint five individuals to Council. The Appointments Committee consists of:[10]

  • The Chairperson of Council.
  • The Chairperson of the trustees of the University of Cape Town Foundation.
  • A trustee of the University of Cape Town Foundation who is neither a staff member nor a student, chosen by the trustees.
  • A person who is neither a staff member nor a student, chosen by organised labour in NEDLAC.
  • The Vice Chancellor.
  • A dean chosen by the deans of the faculties from their number.
  • The president of the SRC.

And so there will be a battle within a battle for control of this committee within a committee. At first glance, this does not look like a battle that the anti-Wokes are likely to win. And, barring the unlikely circumstance in which the Democratic Alliance (DA) establishes some sort of short-term minority national government following the May election, propped up by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), I think we can also safely write off the five Ministerial appointees.

Three seats on Council are held by the Vice Chancellor, the Deputy Vice Chancellor and the Chief Operating Officer. These officials are themselves appointed or effectively appointed by Council, so it seems to me that, at least in theory, these three seats provide a built-in advantage in favour of the incumbent regime. This probably takes the other side to 13 seats out of 30, versus our potential 14 seats.

It could well be that the students, with the final three seats, will hold the balance of power. If, by some miracle, a decent crowd wins an SRC election then the students’ three seats could take us over the line. But this is a big “if”, considering that last year the EFF won a landslide victory in the annual SRC election.

In any event, what we are left with is a fairly evenly constituted governing body. If you squint you can just about see our way clear to having a majority on the University of Cape Town’s Council, provided we get organised, fight hard - and have luck on our side.

Rebuilding a classically liberal university

This then raises an important question. If the classical liberal / anti-Woke / good governance caucus does manage to achieve a majority, what should they do with it? I don’t speak on behalf of any of the recently elected candidates and I certainly don’t expect that they will share all of my views. Nevertheless, I set out below my vision of what can and should be done to restore the University of Cape Town to being a well governed and classically liberal institution.  

  • Firstly, there needs to be zero tolerance for violence, vandalism, harassment and other forms of criminality. Any of this behaviour must be met with prompt arrests with the university leadership pressing for prosecution and custodial jail sentences, without exception. Alongside criminal action, the university must also pursue civil action against offenders to recover damages and must also implement internal disciplinary proceedings so that offenders are removed from the institution. The era of self-described “activists” being at liberty to disrupt exams, petrol bomb buses, burn paintings in the parking lot and assault professors must be brought to a swift and decisive end.
  • Secondly, high standards of academic integrity need to be re-established. This means that students who commit plagiarism, who cheat in tests and exams or who submit fraudulent medical notes need to be expelled from the university. Due performance criteria must be uncompromisingly enforced. Students who attempt to intimidate or bully lecturers must be disciplined.
  • Thirdly, we need to restore high standards of financial discipline. Above all else, fees must be paid on time. I agree with Professor Brian Kantor’s view, recently expressed in Business Day, that ways must be found to reduce the university’s dependence on the national government for funding, not least because the university’s “large and increasing dependence on earmarked contributions from the central government” is not sustainable and poses a severe threat to academic freedom.[11] Extravagant and wasteful expenditure also needs to be curtailed. For example, the line item “Travel and related costs” grew from R 58 million in 2021 to R 185 million in 2022[12] – a three-fold increase in a single year – at a time when online conferencing technology has developed enormously, thus reducing the need for overseas travel.
  • Finally, freedom of speech needs to be re-established. The University of Cape Town can return to its core business of research and teaching only when people are truly free to engage in the pursuit of truth and the illumination of knowledge. Until then, it will remain little more than a Woke indoctrination camp dressed up as a prestigious university.  The best way to prove the re-establishment of academic freedom would be for the university’s leadership to issue an apology to the previously-cancelled Danish journalist, Fleming Rose, and to extend a new invitation to him to speak at the university.

In addition to restoring basic standards of governance, we need to ensure that the university becomes a genuinely progressive environment in which opportunity is extended to the deserving and the poor. Assuming, of course, that the university’s financial health is improved, lack of financial means should not prohibit academically promising students – of any race – from being able to embark on an undergraduate degree. This will require the university to look beyond the racial identity of the affected individual and instead focus on the person’s unique circumstances, specifically his or her academic ability and financial means. In short, we need to stop measuring transformation by counting how many “black” students we have and rather focus on helping promising applicants – of any race – who come from underprivileged backgrounds.

A genuinely progressive environment of this kind can be achieved only if race is disregarded as a relevant criterion. Indeed, the core ideological priority of a reformed Council must be to deracialise the university in every possible respect. By this, I mean that the university should operate on a colour-blind and pro-poor basis. Governance documents that need to be redrafted to reflect this new ethos include, at the very least, the university’s admissions, scholarships, hiring, promotions, procurement and housing policies.

Next, there needs to be a public reckoning with the toxic ideology of Fallism. All of the art, iconography and statues which were removed, damaged or degraded over the past decade need to be restored to their original state on campus. This includes the statue of Rhodes. Institutional support for “decolonisation” initiatives must be terminated, in particular with respect to “decolonising” the curriculum. Fallism came to prominence because of the pervasiveness of Critical Race Theory in the humanities and law faculties. The quality of scholarship emanating from these faculties is long overdue for a review, alongside an examination of the funding methods for the relevant departments.

Coupled with pushing back against the principles of Critical Race Theory, we also need to firmly reject Critical Race Theory’s evil twin: Gender Ideology. The University of Cape Town must ensure that women’s bathrooms, women’s change rooms, women’s residences and women’s sports remain strictly reserved for biological females.

Finally, a full apology must be extended to the victims of Fallism. Above all, the university’s leadership must publicly and unequivocally acknowledge that Professor Bongani Mayosi was driven to his death as a direct result of Fallist bullying and must repudiate the false and revisionist claims that Dr Max Price has made in respect of Professor Mayosi’s death.

Once all of the above has been accomplished, the new leadership of the University of Cape Town should embark on a major initiative to rebuild relationships with the institution’s long-disillusioned donor base. I have no doubt that, with the correct reforms, the University of Cape Town will be able to re-establish productive partnerships with its impressive alumni and other parties.

If you are standing as a candidate for the University of Cape Town’s Council in any of the above-mentioned constituencies (such as academic staff, support staff, donors or students) and the above ideas resonate with you, please send an email to and I will gladly write an article endorsing you.

Courage is contagious, and winning is a habit

I have long suspected that Fallism was driven by a self-referential group of Marxist agitators, a group that is small in number but highly concentrated in leadership positions at the University of Cape Town. I also suspected that Fallism never had any real democratic legitimacy – not amongst white nor black students and staff – and that the voices of aggressive bullies were vastly over-amplified by dangerous idiots in the media such as Eusebius McKaiser and Iqbal Surve.

The results of the alumni election validate these suspicions. It turns out that classical liberals are not outnumbered at the University of Cape Town and there is no need for us to be helpless victims of circumstance. We now need to replicate the alumni election results amongst donors, academic staff, support staff and students until we achieve a majority on Council.

Last week demonstrated that we can restore good governance to our institutions; that we can build a genuinely progressive future; that we can defeat School Capture. We can win – but only if we find the courage and the skill to fight for what we believe in.

And what better place to start than at the University of Cape Town? It was here that Fallism first showed its hideous face, and it is here that we must show the country and, indeed, the whole world, how to lay this monster to rest.












[10] Clause 45 of the University of Cape Town’s Institutional Statute, available at:



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