Open invitation by the Independent Transformation Panel of the UP Council to make submissions on the language policy of the University

Posted on May 30, 2016

  1. At its previous meeting the Council of the University of Pretoria decided to create an independent body to advise it on issues relating to transformation, including language policy and institutional culture.


  1. This body has now been established and met on Friday 20 May 2016. It is referred to as the 'Independent Transformation Panel' (the Panel).


  1. The Panel is chaired by Justice Johann van der Westhuizen, former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and the North Gauteng High Court and a participant in drafting of South Africa's interim and final Constitutions. The other members are Ms Khanyisile Kweyama, CEO of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Brand South Africa; Dr Danie Langner, MD of the Federasie van Afrikaanse Kultuurvereniginge (FAK), MD of the NP van Wyk Louw Centre for Community Studies and leader of the Voortrekker movement; Professor Sheila Mmusi, Chairperson of the Setswana Language Commission of the Academy for African Languages (ACALAN) of the African Union, member of the Board of Directors of Plus94Research and Head of Department of Media Communication and Information Studies at the University of Limpopo; Judge Jeremiah Shongwe, Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal and former Deputy Judge President of the North Gauteng High Court; and Professor Adam Small, philosopher, poet, dramatist and Hertzog prize winner.


  1. The Panel will function independently of the management of the University of Pretoria. It will report to the Council only, at its meeting scheduled for 22 June 2016. In consultation with the Council, the Panel's recommendations will be also made public.


  1. The Panel's immediate focus is on the University's language policy. Other transformation issues, like institutional culture and curriculum reform, may be addressed after 22 June 2016.


  1. All external and internal stakeholders of the University are invited to make submissions to the Panel on [email protected] by no later than 3 June 2016 at 16:00 pm on –
  1. the current language policy of the University of Pretoria (the current language policy is available at );
  2. proposals regarding a new language policy;
  3. the reasons for any proposal under (b); and
  4. proposals as to the lawful and practical implementation of any new language policy or changes to the existing one.


  1. Submissions should be succinct and no longer than eight pages. Much shorter submissions are welcome. Only one submission per person or organisation will be considered. The focus of the panel will be on reasoned substantial comments and proposals, rather than the number of possibly repetitive submissions supporting a particular view.


  1. The Panel works independently of current internal university processes on transformation, like the 'work streams' established at a lekgotla in March. However, we would like the outcomes of those processes to be submitted to the Panel for consideration and incorporation into its report. Any outcomes of the above-mentioned process should in any event follow the normal path through University structures like the Institutional Forum, Senate and Council.


  1. Groups and individuals who participate or participated in the above processes, or elected not to participate in them, are welcome to submit their views to the Panel in accordance with paragraphs 6 and 7 above.


  1. Further information on the Panel and its work could be obtained from the chair, via Ms Thanyani Mahanya at [email protected] or Ms Elzanie Slabbert ([email protected]).


  1. We hope that meaningful submissions will be received in a spirit of openness, trust and cooperation, in order to take the University of Pretoria forward to play the important role it should play in our constitutional democracy. It may be useful to remind ourselves of the Preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa:


We, the people of South Africa,

Recognise the injustices of our past;

Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;

Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and

Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

We therefore, through our freely elected representatives, adopt this Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic so as to –


Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;


Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law;


Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person; and


Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in that family of nations.


The founding values in section 1 of the Constitution are:


  1. Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.
  2. Non-racialism and non-sexism.
  3. Supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law.
  4. … democratic government, to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness.'


The members of the Independent Transformation Panel look forward to receiving your valuable contribution.


- Author Independent Transformation Panel

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