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Resignation should not protect transgressors, say Members of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training. The Committee were responding to the information that no disciplinary action was taken against the former Vice-Chancellor of the Mangosuthu University of Technology as he resigned before he could be charged. The Mangosuthu University of Technology instituted a forensic investigation into governance at the institution following various transgressions.

The Vice-Chancellor and six other senior executives were placed on suspension in 2015 and have since resigned.

Committee Member Ms Julia Killian said it was unacceptable that nothing would be done imply because university staff have resigned. “If people have done wrong they should be charged. There has to be consequence management, and the audit committee chair should make a note of what is being said and follow up on this matter,” Ms Killian said.

Committee Member Mr Sipho Mbatha agreed, saying a situation where executives escape being held accountable should not be allowed. “We know the approach by all three universities in KZN. A person exits employment from one university only to be offered employment at another university. It is your responsibility to alert other universities that such a person is wanted. If they leave, alert the prospective employer,” Mr Mbatha said.

Committee Member Professor Belinda Bozzoli asked that the Committee be provided with a list of the people mentioned in the forensic report, the transgression they have committed, and an indication of whether the transgression warranted criminal proceedings.

Mangosuthu University of Technology and the University of Zululand appeared before the Committee to report on governance challenges as a result of leadership instability. The Committee heard that delegation of authority was delaying the filling of posts and that infrastructure development projects have stalled due to a lack of funding.

The Director-General of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Mr Gwebs Qonde, said it seemed that the council took over responsibility for the filling of vacancies without delegating.

“For the Department, the concern is the price teaching, research and learning pay for this instability. This is the prime mandate of the institutions. All these other anomalies impact negatively on the mandate of the institutions,” Mr Qonde said.

The Committee will later in the day be briefed by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Intellimali and Walter Sisulu University on the erroneous R14 million NSFAS payment.

Sibongile Maputi
13 September 2017