‘Decay and rot’ in Unisa exposed through report, Nehawu says
Nehawu’s Zola Saphetha says the union is not surprised by the findings and wants Unisa vice-chancellor Puleng LenkaBula removed
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) wants Unisa vice-chancellor Prof Puleng LenkaBula removed after an independent assessor report found governance problems and procurement irregularities at the institution.
The report, which looked into the state of affairs at the university and written by Prof Themba Mosia, was completed last week and given to minister of higher education Blade Nzimande.
The probe was started in 2022 amid Nehawu’s calls for the vice-chancellor to be suspended over allegations of irregular expenditure in the refurbishment of her university residence.
Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said the union was not surprised by the findings and wanted LenkaBula removed.
“The report has exposed the decay and rot in the institution, which is characterised by maladministration, financial irregularities, human resources failures, fragile and troubled ICT environment, poor student services, academic malpractices, culture of fear, intimidation and bullying, questionable management and council decisions, among others,” Saphetha said.
Saphetha said the union would not rest until there is stability in the university’s governance.
“We will not rest until there is proper governance, administration and management in Unisa.”
Mosia’s report detailed that the university planned to spend about R1m on the refurbishments; however, an internal report said R3m had been spent by November 2021. The approved budget of R1m only covered kitchen renovations and minor maintenance.
“Only two quotations were submitted for the construction of the kitchen instead of three as per SCM policy; a firm of contractors was awarded R687,161. Only one quotation was submitted for the supply of bedroom furniture instead of the three as per SCM policy; a quotation of R277,205 was accepted,” the report read.
The report found the academic departments were understaffed, some experienced burnout, and it was reported that many assignments were either unmarked or lost.
Mosia made 26 recommendations, including that Unisa be placed under administration and the council and management be relieved of their duties.
Though Nehawu has accused LenkaBula of being involved in the procurement of the refurbishments, during Mosia’s probe she denied this. The report states LenkaBula, when asked about the refurbishments, expressed unease about procurement that was not value for money.
The university is expected to make a public statement on the contents of the report, this week. Nzimande is also set to table the report in parliament and make announcements on his decisions regarding the university's governance.
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