News / South Africa

News24 Wire
Wire Service
2 minute read
14 Dec 2019
9:19 pm

University of Fort Hare’s Vice Chancellor cleared in independent investigation

News24 Wire

In April the former Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Naledi Pandor, dissolved the Council of the University of Fort Hare and appointed Professor Loyiso Nongxa as its administrator.

The main campus of the university of Fort Hare is situated in the fertile valley, some 120 kilometres due west of East London. Image: www.ufh.ac.za

Fort Hare University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, has been cleared of allegations against him following an investigation by independent assessors. However, the assessors found systemic mismanagement lay at the heart of the problems facing the university.

In April the former Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Naledi Pandor, dissolved the Council of the University of Fort Hare and appointed Professor Loyiso Nongxa as its administrator.

This followed after a range of reports in the media of purported divisions within the university’s council, the misconduct of senior officials and suspensions served on them as a result, News24 previously reported.

Pandor said she had to “intervene directly to ensure good governance” and appointed Nongxa.

The overall management of the university remained the responsibility of Buhlungu and his Management Executive Committee.

One of Nongxa’s tasks was to conduct an independent investigation into the affairs of the university “particularly in light of, amongst other things, the resignations, suspensions and dismissals that have taken place; alleged financial irregularities and other related matters…”. This was carried out by an independent panel of assessors, whose report was published on Friday.

The assessors found the most important source of the difficulties facing the University of Fort Hare is “the general disregard of a fundamental principle of governance: the principle, namely, that the role of a governor is to act at all times in the best interest of the institution as a whole, not to act as a ‘representative’ for any particular constituency or group.”

The report further found systemic problems that go back at least a decade, linked to the lack of a culture of responsibility and accountability; a general view of the University as a cash cow; deplorable conditions of teaching, learning facilities and some residences; a factionalised council unable to provide the necessary support to the Vice-Chancellor; and a prevailing belief that the University should be run not by a commonality of ‘stakeholders’ as opposed to management team.

The report has made recommendations, which will be addressed in a systematic fashion, says Nongxa, and will be incorporated into the Turnaround and Performance Improvement Plan.

“The report paves the way for the Management Executive Committee to get on with the important work of rebuilding the University of Fort Hare … I believe that, under the leadership of the Vice-Chancellor, a strong management team is in place to drive the processes so critical to the University’s recovery,” he says.

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