Unisa Staff Oppose Decision To Place University Under Administration


The recent decision by the Department of Higher Education to place the University of South Africa (Unisa) under administration has sparked outrage and opposition from various quarters, including university staff members and the institution's council. 



Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, has made the decision to place Unisa under administration as findings of maladministration were found. This has been met with strong resistance, with critics arguing that it undermines the autonomy of the university.

Staff Members Criticize  Assault on Institutional Independence

Mametlwe Sebei, a lecturer in professional ethics at Unisa, has voiced his concerns over the decision, labeling it as an "egregious assault on the institutional independence of the university." Sebei has been joined by several other staff members in contesting the move, asserting that it lacks legal grounds and undermines the university's autonomy.

He further criticized the independent assessor's report, stating that it failed to bring any new significant insights to light and instead contained sensational allegations without a solid basis.

The independent assessor's report added absolutely nothing to what was already identified by the Ministerial Task Team report. If anything it has just brought about sensational allegations that have no basis.

The decision to place Unisa under administration was based on the findings of an independent assessor's report commissioned by Minister Nzimande, as well as the conclusions of a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) headed by Dr. Vincent Maphai.

The report, authored by Independent Assessor Thabo Mosia, delved into allegations of financial mismanagement and tender irregularities amounting to millions of rands within the university's council and under the leadership of Vice Chancellor, Puleng LenkaBula.

Council Requests Legal Intervention

In response to the decision, Unisa's council has taken a firm stance against the move to place the institution under administration. The council has requested Minister Nzimande to allow the court to rule on the independent assessor’s report before making a final decision on the appointment of an administrator for the university.

Jams Maboa, the chairperson of Unisa's council, has also sought a court order to prevent Nzimande from implementing any of the recommendations outlined in Mosia’s independent report.

Legal Proceedings Unfold

The university's council, in collaboration with Unisa, has initiated legal proceedings to challenge the decision and the findings of the independent assessor's report. Both the council and the institution have filed applications to review and set aside the report.

According to Maboa, these applications are currently pending, and there is a sense of optimism regarding their success.

Extension of Response Period

Initially, Minister Nzimande had provided the council with seven days to submit written representations before he made his final decision. However, in light of the ongoing legal proceedings and the seriousness of the matter, the response period has been extended to 30 days from the date of his notice.

The new deadline for responses has been set for 4 September 2023.

The opposition to the decision to place Unisa under administration continues to grow as staff members, council representatives, and legal proceedings seek to challenge the move and ensure the autonomy of the university is upheld. The outcome of this battle will have far-reaching implications for the future of Unisa and its governance structure.




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