Union calls for minister to allow due court processes before placing Unisa under administration

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Blade Nzimande. Picture: File

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Blade Nzimande. Picture: File

Published Oct 29, 2023


The Academic and Professional Staff Association (Apsa) of the Universities of South Africa has called for Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, to reconsider his decision placing Unisa under administration.

The union said it supports Unisa’s assertion that the minster has acted prematurely in appointing an administrator while there are matters pending before the courts.

On Friday, Nzimande announced that he has appointed former University of Johannesburg VC, Professor Ihron Rensburg, as the administrator to oversee the affairs of the embattled institution for the next 24 months.

On Saturday, Unisa slammed the minister for his “premature” decision as the issue of reviewing the Independent Assessor’s report is still before court.

Unisa also revealed that the minister’s announcement is in contempt of the court order handed down by Judge Harshila Kooverjie that interdicted him from placing the university under administration earlier this month.

The minister’s decision was informed by the report of an Independent Assessor released in March and the 2021 report by the ministerial task team which found corruption and maladministration at the institution.

Speaking to Newzroom Afrika on Saturday, Professor Tumi Senokoane, of A;psa, said the independent assessor, Themba Mosia, was a watered down version of an earlier, Multi Task Team (MTT) report. Apsa have raised certain reservations with the MTT report. Mosia undertook a process of investigating the institution. Members of staff and unions and other stakeholders and ourselves as Apsa, we were unhappy with certain findings and the conclusions that came from this report,“ he said.

Senokoane said much like the Zondo report into allegations of state capture, the independent assessor report is based on hearsay and not actual evidence.

“Much like the Zondo report, this report is based on rumours. It is based on allegations. People were never given right and time to reply. It is under such basis that we as Apsa, we are very unhappy and we cannot accept the minister making such a judgement based on that,” he said.

Senokoane said Apsa supports the recent decision by Unisa to challenge the minister’s decision, adding that Nzimande must allow the matters currently before the courts to be finalised before appointing an administrator.

“The university took a decision to challenge and institute a review process. You will note that if there is a review process based on a legality and the demerits of the report itself, if we find out that the university successfully wins and the Mosia report is set aside, people would have suffered the consequences, of that report. That is why, we are saying, should the courts dismiss Unisa, the minister will have all the rights in the world to appoint an administrator to Unisa, ” Senokoane said.