'Parliamentary committee's public mudslinging exercise unfortunate' – CPUT council

2018-04-05 21:47
Students on the Bellville campus of CPUT . (Jenni Evans, News24)

Students on the Bellville campus of CPUT . (Jenni Evans, News24)

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The chairperson of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology's (CPUT) council on Thursday said it was "unfortunate" that a visit by the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has led a "public mudslinging exercise at the expense of CPUT".

This after the committee said it would summon the council to Parliament for failing to attend a scheduled meeting at the university's Bellville campus last Wednesday.

The committee had conducted an oversight visit for an update on registration and operational issues after the introduction of government's fee-free policy.

Chairperson Connie September at the time said the council had not only "missed an opportunity to benefit from insightful input from members, but also the benefit of being constructively critiqued".

Committee members had been worried by reports received at the meeting that "all was not well at the institution".

"The committee had been concerned about instability... as well as the absence of a vice-chancellor (VC), who resigned and to date there had been many acting VCs. Violence and torching of buildings during protests is a matter of concern, and the possible effects on learning and teaching, as well as the alleged negative outside influences that had been cited," September said last week.

'I received no response'

But on Thursday, council chairperson Nogolide Nojozi in a statement said two executive committee members were present and were allowed an opportunity to address the committee.

She said she had written to September "almost a month previously" requesting that council not make a presentation at the meeting.

"This was based on our belief that as an oversight body, council was not best placed to provide input on administration aspects of the institution which would be best answered by the acting vice-chancellor, who capably did so on the day," she said.

"I received no response to this request or [to] a subsequent email sent by the secretary of council requesting the same thing."

Nojozi pointed out that 60% of council members were neither employees nor students of the university and as a result serve on a voluntary basis, do not receive a salary from CPUT and have full-time jobs or businesses.

"Therefore, they cannot be expected to be present at all meetings called at short notice, as was the case with the portfolio committee one. Council members serve on a voluntary basis as part of their social conscience and attacks on their integrity must be challenged," she said.

'A mission to reclaim the soul of CPUT'

"It is unfortunate that the meeting, which I am told ended on a collegiate note, ultimately descended into a public mudslinging exercise at the expense of CPUT and its most affected stakeholders – the staff and students.

"During the last three years of turmoil and instability, the university council remained resolute and provided the necessary support to the university executive management, as we continue to do."

Council is "on a mission to reclaim the soul of CPUT" and requires support from all relevant role players, particularly government, Nojozi said.

"CPUT is now in a process of rebuilding not just its buildings but also its brand and the condemnation of one of its most valuable stakeholders is severely detrimental to that. We request a cordial relationship with government entities based on mutual respect, honesty and professional courteousness."

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