Watch: Thabo Mbeki Inaugurated As New Chancellor Of Unisa


The inauguration former president Thabo Mbeki as the Chancellor of the University of South Africa (UNISA) began with the academic procession of university dignitaries.

The colourful ceremony also had in attendance the minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Retired Justice Dikgang Moseneke Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor, Thabo Mbeki’s younger brother Moeletsi Mbeki, and former deputy Minister of Foreign AffairsAziz Pahad.

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Mbeki replaces Judge Bernard Ngoepe who served as chancellor for fifteen years. Ngoepe is a South African Judge. He obtained a BJur from the University of the North and an LLB degree from Unisa.

Judge Bernard Ngoepe

Highlights of the occasion include a wonderful anti-xenophobia song rendition titled We Are One by Cape Town-born South African singer Ringo Madlingozi.

The event also featured a special moment when former President Thabo Mbeki shook musician Ringo Madlingozi’s hand for thrilling the audience with his masterpiece.

Prior to the Mbeki’s inauguration, Unisa’s former registrar Professor Louis Malamu handed out copies of his book (Degrees of excellence). Mbeki also received a copy of the book.

Malamu became one of Unisa’s first black academic registrars in 2011. He is best known for his book Tsotsi-taal: A Dictionary of the Language of Sophiatown, published by Unisa in 2003. He was Unisa’s registrar from 2001 to 2012, when he retired.

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Mbeki was found to be a suitable candidate for the position because of his outstanding leadership and credentials, the institution said.

His foundation has partnered with the university through programs, including the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute, Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library and South African Democracy Education Trust.

Commenting on the Higher Education crisis, Mbeki urged all and sundry to patiently await the Higher fees commission’s report; adding that everything should be done to ensure the higher education discharges its mandate accordingly.

Who’s Thabo Mbeki?

Thabo Mbeki was born and raised in Mbewuleni, Cape Province on June 18, 1942.

He had his primary education in Idutywa and Butterworth and acquired a high school education at Lovedale.

Mbeki developed an interest in politics as a young teen in 1955 at Lovedale College. He enrolled in several student political organizations, including the African National Congress Youth League at age 14.

Mbeki left for London and enrolled at the University of Sussex after his meeting Nelson Mandela in 1961 in Johannesburg. Mandela at the time, advised him to further his education outside of the country because he believed Mbeki’s life was in danger due to his political beliefs and affiliations. Mbeki later graduated with a master’s degree in economics in 1966.

In the ’70s, the South African government eyed Mbeki as a political foe after he rose within ANC’s ranks.

In 1986, the government reportedly hired an assassin to bomb his house but the plan failed after the assassin was spotted and arrested.

In 1967, Mbeki started a job with Communist Party leader Yusuf Dadoo at the African National Congress offices in London. Two years later, he moved to Moscow to study at the Institute of Social Science.

In 1978, Mbeki became the political secretary in the office of Oliver Tambo. He became a close confidant of Tambo, advising him on all matters and writing many of his speeches.

In 1990, Mbeki officially returned to South Africa from exile. He rose within the ranks of the ANC in 1993, when he was elected chairman of the ANC.

In 1991, Mbeki was sworn in by Nelson Mandela as the deputy president of the Republic of South Africa. Later in the year,  he became the deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC).

In 1997, the ANC crowned him the president of the revolutionary movement at the ANC’s 50th National Conference. He later became South Africa’s president in 1999, and then won a second term as president of the ANC in 2002.

The ANC’s express victory in the 2004 general elections availed Mbeki another opportunity to continue his leadership, as he was elected to a second term as president of the country. The same year, under his leadership, South Africa celebrated its 10th anniversary as a democratic entity.

In 2005 Mbeki removed Jacob Zuma from his post as Deputy President of South Africa after Zuma was implicated in a corruption scandal.

Mbeki’s bid to win a third term failed in 2007 when he lost the ANC presidential election to Jacob Zuma, though he retained his position as president of South Africa.

In 2008, Mbeki was pressed to step down as South Africa’s president, amid allegations of political interference, including the prosecution of Jacob Zuma for corruption. He reluctantly obliged, paving way for Jacob Zuma.

President Mbeki also played a major role in the hosting of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa. He personally asked favors to some world leaders to support his world cup bid. The Spain national team emerged the champion while the best player was Diego Forlan.

Mbeki received worldwide criticism for his stance on AIDS. He questions the link between HIV and AIDS. His ban of antiretroviral drugs in public hospitals is estimated to be responsible for the premature deaths of between 330,000 and 365,000 people.

Personal Life

At the age of 16, Thabo Mbeki fathered a child with Olive Mpahlwa. The child named Monwabise Kwanda disappeared without a trace along with Thabo’s youngest brother Jama in 1981.


Mbeki married his wife Zanele (née Dlamini) on November 23, 1974, at Farnham Castle in the United Kingdom. He is a native Xhosa speaker.

Watch: Mbeki’s inauguration as UNISA’s VC


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