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Nzimande Concerns Over Court Limits on Authority Following Unisa Decision

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Nzimande Concerns Over Court Limits on Authority Following Unisa Decision

Nzimande Concerns Over Court Limits on Authority Following Unisa Decision. South Africa largest university, the University of South Africa (Unisa), faced the prospect of being placed under administration as Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced his intentions. However, a recent high court ruling halted the Minister from proceeding with his decision.

Minister Intentions and High Court Intervention

Last week, Minister Blade Nzimande revealed his plan to place Unisa under administration in response to a damning 300-page report highlighting serious concerns about the university’s operations. The report identified issues such as maladministration, financial mismanagement, and procedural irregularities in procurement.

Despite his intention, the Pretoria High Court issued an order instructing Minister Nzimande to withdraw his notice for Unisa’s administration. Unisa welcomed this court decision and maintained that the independent report was not fundamentally flawed.

Concerns Over Limitation of Executive Authority

Minister Nzimande expressed his apprehension about how the South African court system appears to restrict his executive authority, as defined in the Higher Education Act. He emphasized the importance of upholding constitutional principles in this matter.

Furthermore, the Minister raised concerns about the pace at which the court is handling the Unisa case. He pointed out that despite the urgency emphasized in the court order issued on August 24, 2023, more than a month has passed without the court addressing the matter. This delay led him to question the consistency in the court’s application of the principle of ‘urgency’ in handling cases.

Unisa Response and Legal Proceedings

Unisa expressed satisfaction with the high court’s decision to prevent Minister Nzimande from placing the institution under administration. They contended that the independent report was flawed and criticized its recommendations.

The university initiated legal proceedings to challenge the report and have it set aside. They argued that their side of the story had not been properly heard, despite having been given the opportunity to make representations to the Minister. Until their side is fully considered in a legal review, Unisa believes it would be premature for the Minister to implement the recommendations of the Independent Assessor, asserting that administration is unnecessary and could potentially harm the institution.

Impact on Unisa Students

Unisa sought to reassure the public that the university’s academic programs remain unaffected, and its financial situation is stable. They cited the Council on Higher Education (CHE) Institutional Audit Report, which affirmed the integrity of Unisa’s academic programs and quality assurance systems, complying with sector norms and standards.

Conclusion

Unisa further stated their hope that students can focus on their ongoing final examinations without any disruptions or anxiety stemming from the administrative controversy.

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