Professor Xoliswa Mtose’s tenure at Unizulu has not only been dogged by accusations of financial maladministration, nepotism and warring cliques, she has also allegedly butted heads with students and staff members.
They are all accusing her of one thing: taking advantage of the chaos that emanated from an alleged lack of proper financial policies. Mtose joined the university around 2013, and according to staff members set in motion a chain of events that almost led to the collapse of financial systems at the university.
A former finance employee alleges that, upon recommending that the contract for “basic computer training” be taken on competetive tender, she received a call from a “hysterical Mtose” seeking an explanation why LMOSS had not yet been appointed despite receiving assurance from the acting chief financial officer (CFO) that this would be done.
“Prior to these events”, the employee continued, “Mtose approached me and asked me to find as much dirt as I could on Prof Midgley [Rob Midgley, former deputy vice-chancellor] so that he could be charged and expelled.”
This claim was corroborated by another suspended employee in affidavits.
“The common theme running through these events … is that Prof Mtose blames employees for adhering to SCM policy in circumstances where executives claim deviations are merited as a result of ’emergencies’. They accuse the functionaries of incompetence … or inefficiencies,” he said.
Another former deputy vice-chancellor revealed that, by the end of the 2016 financial year, the university’s “strategic plan did not feature finance as a key strategic goal”.
When Josephine Naicker joined Unizulu as the CFO, there was no formal handover from the previous CFO and management was aware of this.
“I am inclined to believe that the denial of a proper handover was a deliberate attempt to ensure that the finance department operated without knowing exactly what the approved deliverables were. This situation is potentially dangerous as it opens the floodgates for the powers that be to dictate to the unit and the CFO what they want done,” the affidavit states.
“With LMOSS [the company awarded a tender to provide basic computer training to first-year students], I am told they tried to get ICT department staff to manage the project using university resources and apparently project staff lived at the vice-chancellor’s house at the time.
“Apparently there were no workbooks, with a few people walking around telling the students what to click and what do to do. Nobody is quite sure if this training was accredited and how many students were trained. It was all up in the air and not at all highly organised,” the employee said.
A former SRC leader was more candid about exchanges between students and the vice-chancellor.
“The SRC elected in 2016 was interdicted with the help of Prof Mtose as they believed it would oppose her management. They appointed an administrator who was strangely one of those who were interdicted. I told Mtose in three years’ time you would have managed to turn Unizulu into a highly resourced primary school,” the student leader said.
He said both staff and students were unhappy with Mtose’s alleged bullying leadership style. Since her arrival 50 staff members were suspended under mysterious circumstances and, despite the Richards Bay Regional Court finding some students innocent, they were still excluded from the university, he said.
University spokesperson Gcina Nhleko-Mdluli said in an emailed response to The Citizen: “We acknowledge receipt of your enquiry and please liaise with my office for enquiries relating to the university affairs and executive.”
The Citizen called and wrote a number of emails to both Mtose and the university spokesperson without any response.