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New CEO at SA Human Rights Commission passionate about education, human development, wellness

03 April 2023

Pretoria - Climbing up the ranks, newly appointed SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) CEO Vusumuzi Mkhize has been passionate about education, human development and wellness.

Mkhize, who is an educationalist by profession, was appointed to take over from Lorinda Lynn, who was acting after the suspension of Chantal Kisoon due to racism allegations.

Mkhize is adamant to make a change within the chapter 9 institution, saying racism was still affecting people which trampled on their human dignity.

“People live in poverty, we still have challenges of inequality. Most vulnerable people such as women and children are still exposed to high level of violence. I believe that one can make a contribution towards advancing the realisation of their rights.”

Mkhize’s hunger and passion to learn acquired him an Education Diploma, a BA, an Honours as well as an MBA degree.

“This expertise made me play differently roles in education, such as being an Education Administrator, and a turn around strategist specialising in Organisational Development and change which helped at turning around poorly performing institutions to highly effective machinery,” he said.

Mkhize affirmed that his background in education would help to make an effort towards making a change.

“What is the use of having rights if one cannot realise them. Our democracy is meaningless if rights are not realised,” he said.

Mkhize, who grew up in Mpangeni in KwaZulu-Natal, is a former director-general of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture where he served from 2017 to 2022.

Prior that, the father of three and a grandfather served as the chief director as well deputy director-general of the Department of Home Affairs.

He also served as director of the Department of Education in Gauteng.

“I have spent my entire working life serving in government and ensuring that our new state delivers a dignified service to its citizens,” he said.

The new CEO has a different perspective on human rights. He believes it made perfect sense for him to apply for the position because it dealt with what is the foundation of the new society, which is human rights.

“My task is to transcend every department and all spheres of and the three arms of government.

“As a result, I am very excited about being at the front seat or battle front of this chapter 9 institution so that we make human rights a culture synonymous with our country.

“This is the mission and the staff, and the commission are determined to ensure that this is achieved.

“I am delighted to join these South Africans so committed to human rights in our nascent democracy.

“This institution needs to be a true champion of human rights, an aid of those who are vulnerable and a protection of the vulnerable.”

Mkhize concedes that the institution has a great deal of challenges because it has the enormous task of protecting human rights in the country.

“There is a greater need for the commission to reach all corners of the country to educate and empower people to know their rights and how to defend them. Together with every staff member of the commission in collaboration with other critical stakeholders we need to work towards shifting focus and mindset to towards empowering communities at large.”

He said the SAHRC is a defining institution that differentiates between people’s ideologies of what South Africa should be and should never be.

Before heading to the office, Mkhize makes sure he takes care of his family.

He says family values are important.

“I was brought up by a family with a strong Christian background, married and blessed with three children.”

He believes the SAHRC is both a conscience about how South African citizens are treated, and a checkpoint that monitors progress on how to advance democracy. “The institution holds the powerful role of protecting human rights,” said Mkhize.

SAHRC spokesperson Wisani Baloyi said: “The commission welcomes Mkhize and wishes him every success as he begins the journey of leading the secretariat of the commission to the execution of the mandate of the commission to promote and protect human rights and monitor and assess their observance in the Republic of South Africa.”

Source: Pretoria News

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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