Change the world


A new era is on the horizon as the only university in the world to bear the name of one of the 20th century’s most revered leaders, Rholihlahla Nelson Mandela, prepares for the historic inauguration of its first black African female Vice-Chancellor and principal.

In the centenary year of its namesake, Nelson Mandela University will formally install Professor Sibongile Muthwa as Vice-Chancellor, as well as Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi as its titular head on 17 April. Chancellor Dr Fraser-Moleketi and Vice-Chancellor Prof Muthwa join another equally formidable woman, Chair of Council Ambassador Nozipho January-Bardill, making up the institution’s triumvirate leadership.

The trio are honourable and respected women, with an unwavering commitment to steering the University in emulating the global stature of its namesake and living his legacy of nurturing the most vulnerable in our communities, of integrity, respect and humanitarianism, and developing communities through high quality students.

Prof Muthwa succeeds Professor Derrick Swartz, whose 10-year tenure ended last year, and who hailed her appointment as an epoch-making moment in the history of the university.

At the time, mere moments after the University Council announced her appointment in October 2017, Prof Swartz said: “It is an exceedingly proud moment for us all. [Prof] Muthwa serves doubly as the first female vice-chancellor and first African female Vice-Chancellor in the history of the University, and without doubt will inspire new generations to rise to the highest levels of achievement.”

A well respected and compassionate leader, Prof Muthwa has spent many years holding leadership positions, in development, public sector, and academic institutions and managing complex issues and situations with skill and enormous courage. She has a distinguished career in both South Africa and the United Kingdom.

She has led the support arm of Mandela University for seven years as Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Institutional Support – a completely new portfolio where her visionary leadership has guided and helped position the division as a critical one in support of the Teaching and Learning, and Research and Engagement pillars of the institution.

At the time of the announcement of her appointment, Prof Muthwa said she was extremely humbled by the confidence shown in her by the University Council and looks forward to leading an institution that is set to distinguish itself nationally and continentally as a new generation university.

“Our university, sector and country are at a crossroads. We can use the prevailing situation to our advantage. At Nelson Mandela University we are hard at work implementing strategies not only intended to enable us overcome the challenges we face, but also to place us firmly on a positive growth trajectory. I am looking forward to working with the team to collectively take the university to greater heights,” she said.

Prof Muthwa’s historic appointment and inauguration comes at a time when the higher education sector is emerging from major changes, which have in recent years seen students actively leading campaigns for social and justice and equality, not only for them but for workers at universities as well.

These campaigns culminated in the recent announcement by government of fee-free higher education for students from poor and working class backgrounds, and the University’s massive reintegration of nearly 900 staff members who were in previously outsourced functions.

The University will suspend academic activities and normal operations on the afternoon of the inauguration to enable the University community at large to be part of this momentous event, which will take place at the Madibaz Indoor Centre, South Campus.

The inauguration will be livestreamed and a spill-over venue arranged from which to view the inauguration collectively.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777