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UNISA Appeals to Nzimande for Attention Regarding Administrator Appointment



UNISA Appeals to Nzimande for Attention Regarding Administrator Appointment

UNISA Appeals to Nzimande for Attention Regarding Administrator Appointment. In an unexpected development, the Council of the University of South Africa (Unisa) has formally appealed to Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education,

To allow the courts to pass judgment on the findings of an independent assessor’s report before making a final determination on the appointment of an administrator for the institution. The request signifies a novel twist in the unfolding situation.

UNISA Appeals to Nzimande for Attention Regarding Administrator Appointment

Minister Nzimande conveyed to James Maboa, the Chairperson of the Unisa Council, via a letter last Friday, his satisfaction with the independent assessor’s report authored by Prof Themba Mosia.

The report revealed “financial and other maladministration of a serious nature” and a significant compromise in the institution’s effective functioning.

The independent assessment highlighted the necessity of appointing an administrator for Unisa, asserting that such a step would be in the best interests of the university and higher education within an open and democratic society.

Council’s Reaction and Decision to Seek Legal Review

Maboa confirmed that the council convened to deliberate on their response to Nzimande’s letter. Although he refrained from providing explicit details, credible sources revealed that Maboa penned a letter to Nzimande expressing disagreement with Mosia’s conclusions.

Notably, the council had already resolved on June 7 to take the matter to court, aiming to have Mosia’s report reviewed and overturned. This decision led them to file a legal application in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on July 4. However, the court proceedings are still pending.

Confidence in Court Outcome

In his letter to Nzimande, Maboa reportedly conveyed the council’s confidence that the court would rule in their favor. Consequently, the council indicated their intention not to further engage with the conclusions reached by Mosia.

It appears that Maboa emphasized the potential harm that placing Unisa under administration could inflict on the institution’s reputation, stature, ratings, and rankings—metrics that have experienced a positive trajectory in recent years.

Council’s Composition and Dissolution Concerns

The letter also brought to Nzimande’s attention the significant changes in the council’s composition since the appointment of the ministerial task team led by Vincent Maphai in 2020.

Maboa highlighted that the council’s structure had evolved considerably between the time of the ministerial task team’s report and Mosia’s findings. This evolution would result in a relatively new council facing dissolution.

Appeal for Prudent Decision-Making

Maboa’s communication urged Nzimande to consider the council’s submission, emphasizing the importance of avoiding actions that could further damage Unisa’s reputation and business continuity.

The council requested a final response if Nzimande remained unmoved by their plea, and if he intended to promptly proceed with placing the university under administration.

This request stemmed from the council’s instruction for members not to resign until the matter achieved clarity, aiming to maintain governance stability.

Future Implications and Meetings

Maboa conveyed to Nzimande that their intention was to prevent a scenario wherein members, many of whom joined post-Mosia’s appointment, would be ineligible to serve on future boards due to their prior removal from positions of trust.

The letter concluded with the availability of Maboa and his deputy to meet with Nzimande to delve deeper into the contents of the communication sent on Thursday.

Mosia’s Findings as Stated by Nzimande

Minister Nzimande’s letter to Maboa, seen by TimesLIVE, outlined key findings from Prof Themba Mosia’s report

  • Pervasive and ongoing institutional governance problems.
  • Identification of internal control weaknesses in supply chain management, ICT, and financial processes.
  • Evidence of noncompliance and irregular financial decisions, affecting the university.
  • Dysfunction within the management committee (mancom) and its inability to manage the complex university effectively.
  • Implementation of irregular selective salary adjustments and procurement deviations, including a laptop scheme costing over R87 million.

Reaction to Administrator Appointment

Jonathan Jansen, a distinguished education professor at Stellenbosch University, responded to the prospect of an administrator’s appointment.

He deemed it a necessary decision to address years of malfunction, corruption, and incompetence at Unisa. Jansen referenced the Vincent Maphai ministerial task team report and Mosia’s findings, both of which are publicly available, to substantiate the need for change.

He also noted that the administrator’s success would depend on various factors, including their expertise and commitment.

This comprehensive explanation highlights the intricate details and dynamics surrounding Unisa’s council’s plea for a court ruling on the administrator appointment issue.

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