University on verge of implosion

2010-12-07 11:04

Troubled Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) is on the verge of collapse and has been given until the end of December to get its house in order or an administrator will be appointed to run the ­institution. This threat is contained in a scathing report on its affairs by ­respected businessman and ­academic Dr Vincent Maphai.

Maphai was appointed as an independent assessor by Minister for Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande in June. Maphai found that the institution’s council, its highest decision-making body, was dysfunctional, poorly constituted, lacking expertise, serving its own interests and making money out of a publicly-funded institution.

Council members include acting vice-chancellor Professor Johnny Molefe, chairperson and businesswoman Dr Nono Mohutsioa-Mathabathe, Young Communist League Gauteng chairperson Vuyo Mhlakaza, and Professor Mohale Mahanyele, husband of ANC national executive committee member and former housing minister, Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele.

The report found that the council was treated like a cash cow by members who demanded payment without furnishing receipts for their claims. Maphai and his two assistants found that if it did not address staff issues, TUT would be on the verge of disintegration.

“This function in the university has virtually collapsed. In the ­absence of immediate intervention, the institution will inevitably implode,” the report said.

Technikon North West, Technikon Northern Gauteng and Technikon Pretoria merged in 2004 to form TUT.
The report recommended that the council focus on the matching and placing strategy taken since the merger, and the subsequent capping of certain salaries.

In the next 12 or 18 months a high percentage of capable staff was due to retire. This could undermine the institution. The ­report questioned why there were more than 300 staff members on contract and recommended that all appointments and promotions of the past two years be reviewed.

Higher education department spokesperson Moloantoa Molaba said there was agreement ­between TUT management and Nzimande that administrative problems would be resolved by its management, who would report back to the minister before the end of this year.

“So far indications are that everything is on track,” he said.
Moatlhodi Dilotsotlhe, TUT spokesperson, said they would meet the ministry’s requirements but not all the deadlines.
“You cannot change the statutes in two weeks. Things that are less challenging will be done by the end of December.”

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