DA shadow minister of higher education Professor Belinda Bozzoli told The Citizen in a telephonic interview that Dr Blade Nzimande “must get to the bottom of the problems” at the University of Zululand (Unizulu).
Bozzoli was reacting to information that both the chairperson of the portfolio committee on higher education Cornelius September and Speaker Baleka Mbete had ignored a court subpoena brought by axed CFO Josephine Naicker and a group of dismissed employees calling themselves ‘Save Unizulu’.
The group subpoenaed September, with Mbete as a second respondent, to give them access to three forensic reports emanating from a forensic investigation conducted by Ernst & Young in 2012.
They were also demanding the committee avail to them an “oversight report” resulting from hearings held into the alleged collapse of corporate governance, maladministration and allegations of financial impropriety held in February this year in Durban.
Naicker contends in court documents that the embargoed forensic reports, which the minister informed her he has no authority to release, together with the oversight report, are crucial for her to prove to the Labour Court the institution fired her for reporting financial irregularities to council.
When the subpoena was allegedly ignored, the group headed back to the Durban High Court and were granted a contempt of court hearing on the 25th of August.
The group’s legal representative Charmaine Nel submitted to the court that September and Mbete must appear before the court and “show cause why they should not be found in contempt of court or contravening section 35 of the Superior Courts Act for failing to comply with subpoenas served on 13 June, 2017”.
Nel is also requesting the court to direct that the respondents be ordered to pay the costs of the application.
A source familiar with parliamentary processes cautioned, however, that Naicker and the group could have exercised patience as all portfolio reports, excluding intelligence and state security, eventually become public documents after parliament has endorsed them through a vote.
Moloto Mothapo, the parliamentary spokesperson, appeared to have experienced network problems during the conversation with The Citizen, although a comprehensive list of questions were forwarded electronically.