Three senior appointments at UFH

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It gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of three new executives who will be joining the Management Executive Committee of the University of Fort Hare:

  • Dr Oscar van Heerden as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Institutional Support on June 1st 2021
  • Dr Nthabiseng Taole-Mjimba as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Partnerships and Innovation on July 1st 2021
  • Mr Lufuno Tshikhudo as Dean: Student Affairs on July 1st 2021


With this new set of appointments, we are for the first time introducing a Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Partnership and Innovation. From the 1st of July, the portfolio of Professor Renuka Vithal, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic Affairs will change to Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning. This important unbundling of the Academic Affairs portfolio will allow the University to focus strategically and operationally on its core activities of teaching and learning and research.

In addition, the University Council has approved that the Dean: Student Affairs serve on the Management Executive Committee.

On June 1st, 2021, Dr Oscar van Heerden commenced his duties as Deputy Vice-Chancellor Institutional Support at the University of Fort Hare.

Before joining the University, he was a senior lecturer in International Relations at the Faculty of Military Sciences, University of Stellenbosch. Previously, he was Director: Operations at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflections (Mistra). 

He also served as Executive Manager for Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo for five years. Here he was responsible not only for infrastructure projects, project management, supply chain management and financial management but also for ensuring smooth relations with various stakeholders. In this role, he was the employer representative in the bargaining council and interacted with unions and other stakeholders around wage negotiations and other labour disputes. During this time, Dr Van Heerden was seconded as International and Stakeholder Manager in the private office of the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg.

 Thereafter, he was appointed as the Executive Director for Internationalisation at the University of Johannesburg. This allowed him to network and fundraise, interacting with various international stakeholders and universities. He has been an independent management consultant for many years in his own company, Kelello Consulting, working mostly but not exclusively with various government departments. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and International Relations and an honours degree in International Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand.

He completed an MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge, both in International Relations. Dr Van Heerden’s intellectual interests are in international political economy, with an emphasis on Africa, and SADC in particular. He is the author of two single-authored books, Consistent or Confused? The politics of Mbeki’s foreign policy 1995-2007, with Jacana Media (Staging Post) and Two Minutes to Midnight: Will Ramaphosa’s ANC survive? also from Jacana. He is a public intellectual and a regular contributor to the Daily Maverick. Dr Van Heerden serves as a member of the University of Venda and East Midlands TVET College Councils.

Dr Nthabi Taole-Mjimba will join the University of Fort Hare on July 1st 2021 as the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research, Partnerships & Innovation bringing with her a wealth of more than 20 years’ experience in the national system of innovation, including higher education, research council, non-governmental organisation (NGOs) and private sector experience. 

Prior to joining the University of Fort Hare, she was Director: Research & Innovation at the University of Pretoria, where she played a key role in providing strategic direction for the research, innovation and internationalisation portfolio of the university. 

In that capacity, she was a notable agent of change, and demonstrated her solutions-orientated and client-centric leadership style. Her University of Pretoria experience was preceded by a position she held as Director: Centres of Excellence at the National Research Foundation (NRF) where she was responsible for the strategic roll-out of the DST-NRF Centres of Excellence nationally. She has also been Policy Advisory Programme Manager at the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) where she led a number of consensus studies that championed the use of evidence-based policy and practice in state matters. 

A notable output of this work is the consensus study entitled: Scholarly Books: their Production, Use and Evaluation in South Africa Today, in which Dr Taole-Mjimba served as both a panellist and study director. This study has been a catalyst in influencing and changing the Department of Higher Education and Training’s policy on incentivising scholarly books. 

Dr Taole-Mjimba has served on various panels and committees, which include amongst others the Women in Science Awards (WISA) and the National Science & Technology Forum (NSTF) Awards, the Southern African Research & Innovation Management Association, and the Council for Higher Education (Lesotho). Further, she has successfully drafted the Framework for Establishing Regional Centres of Excellence commissioned by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). She holds a Bachelor of Science (Mathematics & Statistics) from the National University of Lesotho and a PhD in Information Science from the University of Pretoria.

Mr Lufuno Godfrey Tshikhudo will join the University on July 1st as Dean: Student Affairs. Mr Tshikhudo is currently employed by the University of Venda as the Director of Student Affairs

Previously he was Head of Department of Student Governance and Accommodation at the same University from 2012 to 2014. Serving in these roles has given him the opportunity to develop the capacity for providing dynamic and transformational leadership, building synergy, and developing strong relations with both internal and external stakeholders. 

Mr Tshikhudo holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Regenesys Business School, a BA Honours in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts degree – both from the University of Venda – and a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from Unisa. Mr Tshikhudo has solid experience at both senior and middle management level, which he accumulated over 18 years in both the higher education and further education and training environment. His main responsibilities have been in the areas of counselling, skills development, work-integrated learning, marketing and communications, sports and recreation, health services, student accommodation, student governance, student judicial services, community outreach and student quality of life. Mr Tshikhudo spent seven years in student affairs management and on the university’s Senior Management Committee (SMC). 

Over the course of his career, he initiated a number of strategic projects, chief amongst these the establishment of the Department of Student Support Services at the Gold Fields FET College (the erstwhile Tosa Technical College), the introduction of a Student Leadership Development model at the University of Venda, coordinating the merger of student recruitment departments of three Technikons (Technikon North West (TNW), Technikon Northern Gauteng (TNG) and Pretoria Technikon) under the newly established Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), and the establishment of a public-private partnership for off-campus residences at the University of Venda.

Mr Tshikhudo is a seasoned manager with skills in both strategic leadership and general management in a higher education environment.

I would like to express my gratitude to Dr Nosisa Mayaba for taking on the challenging portfolio of Institutional Support in her capacity as Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor. Her firm and strategic leadership has been greatly appreciated.

Professor Priscilla Monyai will continue to serve as Acting Dean: Student Affairs until the end of June. I want to thank her for her tenacity and steadfastness in managing this critical Division. The successful completion of online SRC elections during her tenure is a special accomplishment.

With the appointment of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Partnerships and Innovation on July 1st, Professor Munacinga Simatele, who is currently Acting Dean: Research, will become Acting Director: Research Management, and the Dean of Research position will be disestablished. I take this opportunity to thank Professor Simatele for her stellar contribution as Acting Dean: Research and to express our appreciation for agreeing to take on the position of Acting Director: Research Management from the beginning of July.

With the three new executives joining us, we are looking forward to a period of renewal and consolidation. There is much work to be done and it is good to have a full executive team in place.


Professor Sakhela Buhlungu

Vice-Chancellor and Principal