Juju lawyer to probe varsity

2012-02-16 12:52

Julius Malema’s lawyer, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, has been appointed independent assessor for the troubled Vaal University of Technology (VUT).

Sikhakhane has stepped in because of VUT’s governance failures, allegations of financial mismanagement and its student governance.

Sikhakhane was one of three lawyers who represented Malema in the “Ayesab’amagwala” hate speech trial last year.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has given Sikhakhane ten working days to complete his task and submit a report to the minister.

The assessor will have to come up with measures to resolve the identified problems and make recommendations.

Tasks will include the restoration of good governance in relation to VUT’s executive management and its council.

The assessor will also look at procurement practices and other administrative matters.

According to the higher education department, the assessor will conduct a thorough investigation of the financial policy and procedures of the institution.

Sikhakhane’s probe will also focus on VUT’s internal audit processes, procurement and tender procedures, expenditure on legal fees, donor funding management, the management of National Student Financial Aid Scheme allocations.

Any specific allegations of financial irregularities brought to Sikhakhane’s attention will be investigated.

VUT spokesperson Kediemetse Mokotsi said top management at VUT fully supported Nzimande’s intervention.

“The intervention follows concerns raised by various stakeholders with the Minister,” Mokotsi said.

VUT hopes Sikhakhane’s recommendations will assist in establishing a favourable environment for its further development and address staff members’ concerns relating to conditions at the university, Mokotsi said.

Two weeks ago, students were pepper-sprayed and assaulted with batons by security guards during a chaotic registration.

Nzimande has placed the University of Zululand, Tshwane University of Technology and Walter Sisulu University under administration since 2009.

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