The University of Pretoria in South Africa has distanced itself from a statement issued by one of it’s Professors, Michelo Hansangule, in which he asked the United Nations to recall its representative in Zambia, Janet Rogan.
In a letter dated April 24, 2018, addressed to Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba, University Registrar Professor Caroline Nicholson clarified that Prof Hansungule did not seek clearance from the University before commenting on governance issues in Zambia.
She stressed that the opinion contained in Prof Hansangule’s statement of April 14, 2018, on the UN Chief in Zambia, were an expression of his personal feelings and did not represent the official opinion of either the Centre for Human Rights, where Prof Hansangule is Chairman or the University of Pretoria.
“The Centre for Human Rights and the Africa Centre for Good Governance, in terms if their mission to advance human rights in Africa, make public statements on human rights issues in countries across Africa, including Zambia. Such statements are issued only after a process of internal consultations and are signed off by the Director of the Centre for Human Rights in accordance with Centre policy. In the case of the letter to which you refer, it was not authorised by the Centre,” Prof Nicholson wrote.
“Prof Hansangule signed the letter a Centre letterhead without a prior process of internal Centre consult consultations. He acknowledged that he should not have done so and he revokes this statement on Centre letterhead, and apologises that he should not have done so. He revokes this statement on Centre letterhead, and apologises for the use of the Centre letterhead for the expression of his personal opinion. While we acknowledge the right of its staff members to engage in public debate in their personal capacity, it is always expected that a clear distinction should be drawn between individual staff members taking part in debates in their personal capacity. On the one hand, and official positions taken by the Centre after internal consultations, on the other hand.”
Prof Nicholson assured the Zambian Mission in Pretoria that the University would take steps to ensure that the error of judgment of Professor Hansungule in using an official letterhead for his statement of opinion was not repeated in future.
“The opinions expressed in the letter were an expression of the personal opinions of the author and not an expression of of any official opinion on behalf of either the Centre for Human Rights or the University of Pretoria. The Director for Human Rights will take steps to ensure that the error of judgment of Prof Hansangule in using an official letterhead for this statement of opinion will not be repeated,” wrote Prof Nicholson.
The Registrar also disclosed that Prof Hansungule had since been made to revoke his statement and apologised to management for the use of the Centre’s letterhead to express his personal opinions.
And acknowledging the letter of apology, Mwamba expressed concern that most of the issues that Prof Hansungule raised in his letter to the Administrator of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in New York regarding the recall of Rogan, appeared to represent the official position of the University of Pretoria.
Mwamba, however, thanked the University for its prompt response to the High Commission’s concerns.
He also expressed gratitude that the University management had shown its determination to rectify the misrepresentations made by Prof Hansungule.