Adam Habib

Adam Mahomed Habib (born 1965) is a South African professor of political geography, and the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa. He officially assumed the position of Vice-Chancellor on 1 June 2013 when the term of his predecessor Loyiso Nongxa ended. He is also a former deputy vice chancellor of the University of Johannesburg.[2][3][4]

Adam Habib
Adam Habib (2017)
Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand
Assumed office
1 June 2013[1]
Preceded byLoyiso Nongxa
Personal details
ResidenceSavernake, Johannesburg
Alma materUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal (MA) Graduate School, City University of New York (Master of Philosophy), graduate School, City University of New York (Doctor of Philosophy)


Studying at a mix of South African and American Universities, Habib graduated as a political scientist having received his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Witwatersrand, and his MPhil and PhD from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He has held academic appointments over the last decade at the Universities of Durban-Westville and KwaZulu-Natal and the Human Science Research Council. Prior to being appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg, he served as the Executive Director of the Democracy and Governance Programme of the Human Science Research Council. Before that, he was the founding director of the Centre for Civil Society and a research professor in the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Habib has served as co-editor of both the social science academic journal Transformation and the official disciplinary journal of the South African Association of Political Science, Politkon. He also sits on the editorial boards of Voluntas and the South African Labour Bulletin. He has served as an external examiner and examined Masters and Doctoral dissertations for a number of South African Universities including Durban-Westville, KwaZulu-Natal, Witwatersrand, Cape Town, and Rhodes. He has also served on a number of boards and councils including those of the University of Durban-Westville, the Durban University of Technology, the International Society for Third Sector Research, Sangonet, the Centre for Public Participation, and the Centre for Policy Studies.

Habib has published numerous edited books, book chapters and journal articles over the last two decades in the thematic areas of democratisation and its consolidation in South Africa, contemporary social movements, philanthropy, giving and its impact on poverty alleviation and development, institutional reform, changing identities and their evolution in the post-apartheid era, and South Africa’s role in Africa and beyond. He is a well-known public figure in South Africa whose opinions are often sought by both the print and broadcasting media.

In December 2012, the University of the Witwatersrand invited Habib to be that institution's next vice-chancellor.[5]

Political orientation

He cites Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky as his key influences.[6]

Barred entry to the United States

In October 2006 Habib was apprehended and deported when he flew into John F. Kennedy Airport, in New York City.[7][8] Habib had studied in New York when he was in graduate school. He had made numerous trips to New York in the past.

This trip was one with colleagues from South Africa's Human Sciences Research Council.[7] His itinerary had included visiting the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Bank.

In November 2006 Habib and his wife learned that she and their two children, aged 8 and 11, would also be barred entry to the USA.[9]

In November 2007, according to The New York Times, the US informed Habib he had been barred entry over allegations of: "...engaging in terrorist activities."[10] The Christian Science Monitor reported that he had been barred due to having: "...links to terrorism".[4]

The American Civil Liberties Union tried to aid Habib in learning the reasons he was barred.[4][10] Upon the release of the justification the ACLU shifted its effort to get the evidence supporting the allegation, if any, released.

On 20 January 2010, after more than three years of waiting, the American State Department has decided, in a document signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to lift the ban that prohibited Habib (as well as Tariq Ramadan from Switzerland) from entering the United States.


  • Habib, Adam (2013). South Africa's suspended revolution - Hopes and prospects. Wits University Press. ISBN 978-1-86814-608-6.
  • Adam Habib: Rebels and Rage. Reflecting on #FeesMustFall. Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2019. ISBN 9781868428960
Academic offices
Preceded by
Loyiso Nongxa
Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand


  1. Habib takes over at Wits, Mail & Guardian, retrieved June 3rd, 2013.
  2. "Adam Habib: personal details". Center for Civil Society. Archived from the original on 12 February 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  3. "Adam Habib: Honorary Research Professors and Fellows". School of Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Archived from the original on 25 September 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  4. Scott Baldauf (16 November 2004). "South African fights denial of U.S. visa". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 23 November 2007.
  5. "Prof Adam Habib offered Wits VC post". The Times. 8 December 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  6. HRSC Profile Archived 26 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. "US embassy probing SA academic's deportation". The Independent. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  8. "ACLU Rebukes U.S. Government for Failing to Act on Visa Request of South African Scholar". American Civil Liberties Union. 8 October 2007. Archived from the original on 12 November 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  9. Adam Habib (25 September 2007). "Banned: Why a South African is Going to Court in the U.S." Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
  10. Neil MacFarquhar (15 November 2007). "Lawsuit over visa for Muslim academic". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2007.
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