Trade Union Demands Unisa Council Resignation

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An inquiry report on the affairs at South Africa’s largest university,  has made a number of bodies, including one trade union, demand that the institutions council be dissolved, and the Vice Chancellor resign.


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The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in Gauteng has issued a statement voicing their concerns on recent developments at the University of South Africa (Unisa), following the findings of the independent investigation.

Cosatu says that the report’s findings have damaged the image of the university and noted that Unisa’s executive council are ignoring concerns raised by academics, students, stakeholders, and NGO’s who are calling for the dissolution of the council and the resignation of the Vice Chancellor.

The union expressed:

Unisa’s dented reputation that has been portrayed in the public domain due to the stubbornness of some council members, led by the chairperson of the council, should serve as leverage for the Department of Higher Education and Training to save this historic higher education institution from the embarrassment it is currently subjected to.

Investigation findings

Last year, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande commissioned independent assessor, Professor Themba Mosia to look into Unisa’s affairs. Earlier this year, the investigation report was released, citing several allegations of maladministration and tender irregularities at the university.

Some of the concerns the report raises include the performance of management and the council the state of governance at the institution, financial management, upgrades to the vice-chancellor's home and claims of intimidation and bullying

Mosia stressed, “Unisa experienced poor governance for a long time, and the process for the appointment of members of the council should be strengthened."

He further advised that the university's management and council should be "relieved of their duties" and the institution placed under administration.  

Cosatu Gauteng Provincial Secretary Louisa Modikwe blamed Unisa’s problems on the Vice Chancellor and the “stubborn council, which was hellbent on proceeding to steer the ship to the cliff.”

Modikwe added, “Last year, we warned that Unisa would be driven to a cliff because of an inexperienced principal who was incorrectly appointed. It is not a surprise that Unisa is now at this position.”

Calls for council & VC resignation 

Furthermore, the union also questioned the procedure the council followed to suspend the registrar and accused chairperson of the council Mashukudu Maboa of having gone out of his way to suspend the registrar.

It is our view that the council should take such a decision as a collective, not an individual. The action by the chairperson of the council reflects a person who does not have the best interests of the university at heart. If he did, he would have resigned to allow the university to implement the recommendations of the Assessor.

They continue, “We further call on the Minster of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation to recall all council Ministerial appointees and appoint the Administrator to start the process of appointing the new leadership of the university.”

Cosatu affirmed that should their requests not be heeded, they will have no option but to join in with the calls for a total shutdown of Unisa until their concerns are addressed.  

Meanwhile, Unisa’s council convened on Wednesday, 7 June 2023 to conclude outstanding matters of governance and oversight and finalise its response to Minister Nzimande. 

The university said their response will be submitted to Minister Nzimande's office within the agreed-upon time frame between the council and the Minister.

 

Suggested Article:

Unisa investigation

Several allegations were made against South Africa’s largest university and its management after an independent assessor was appointed to look into the university's affairs. The institution is set to issue an official response soon as consultations have concluded. 

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