Nzimande calls claims of interference at Unisa misleading and malicious

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Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.
  • Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande is allegedly interfering with appointment processes at Unisa. 
  • This according to the UDM's Bantu Holomisa who wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa urging him to probe the matter. 
  • Holomisa claims Nzimande is attempting to place his own person as vice-chancellor. 

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who stands accused of interfering with appointment processes at Unisa, has come out strongly against UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, calling the statement malicious and misleading. 

A war of words has erupted between the two after Holomisa wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday urging him to investigate Nzimande. 

In his letter, Holomisa said Ramaphosa had ignored reports of Nzimande's interference in the departmental processes and administration as well as that of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (Seta). 

He alleged during a council meeting at Unisa, Nzimande had indicated it would be the right time for the review as the vice-chancellor's term of office would be coming to an end.

Holomisa said it was understood the process of appointing a new vice-chancellor would be delayed until the review was completed.

In July, Nzimande told Parliament he had appointed a ministerial task team to conduct an independent review of Unisa.

The review will also focus on its mandate. The Department of Higher Education is also working on a review of the Higher Education Act.

READ | Nzimande orders probe into Unisa and its mandate: 'It is clearly too big to fail'

"This echoes the initial expectation that the vice-chancellor would be only appointed after the review, yet the process of the appointment is being forged ahead with, with the interference of the minister.

"Unisa's council is to convene on 21 October 2020 and is expected to rubber stamp the palace decree. It is also clear that a selection committee had only been put in place to satisfy the policy requirements and it served no actual purpose as the decision on who was to be appointed as Unisa's vice-chancellor was a fait de accompli.

"However, Unisa's council will be tested on Wednesday to see whether they will endorse a woefully dysfunctional process that was spearheaded by a person who is not even a civil servant," Holomisa said.

Nzimande's office said the appointment of university vice-chancellors was a competency of councils. 

His spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi, said the minister "outrightly rejects with contempt the claims and outright lies by Holomisa". 

ALSO READ | Nzimande hits back at Holomisa, saying no tender was awarded for procurement of digital devices

"There seems to be a continuous, malicious, misleading and sustained programme by Holomisa to tarnish the integrity and image of Minister Nzimande.

"This has been demonstrated by a stream of lies and distortions in the letters Holomisa continuously pens for the attention of the president, and simultaneously shared with the media. Minister Nzimande therefore confirms that none of his advisors is directly or indirectly involved in the appointment of the Unisa vice-chancellor," he added. 

Earlier this month, Nehawu raised concern over Nzimande's "questionable" relationship with National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) administrator Randall Carolissen.  

The union also claimed the NSFAS board was dissolved after the entity was placed under administration for the purpose of creating a critical vacancies list in order to legitimise nepotism from Nzimande, Carolissen and his advisors. 

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