Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has withdrawn the government gazette’s notice to place the University of South Africa (Unisa) under administration.
This followed a ruling by the North Gauteng High Court ordering the minister to overturn his decision after the university filed for a court interdict against the move.
The court order was handed down on November 1 and Nzimande withdrew the notice on November 16.
The minister’s decision to place the 150-year-old distant learning institution under administration followed a recommendation by an independent assessment by Professor Themba Mosia in May this year.
This, after Vice-Chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula was accused of poor management, maladministration and displaying an authoritarian management style.
Mosia’s assessment revealed a cauldron of instability, characterised by a culture of fear, intimidation and bullying, instances of maladministration and financial irregularities.
Others included human resource failures, a fragile and troubled ICT environment, poor student services, academic malpractices, leakages of confidential records, and questionable management and council decisions.
The scathing report by Mosia, revealed how millions of rands were misused under the watch of both the university’s council and management.
Mosia’s report was preceded by the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report, which also made similar findings against Unisa.
The report was tabled at a portfolio committee meeting in February last year and pointed to issues of ICT infrastructure as being in need of urgent attention.
In August, the university council was given about a week to make written representations on why it should not be placed under administration.
At the time, Nzimande said he was satisfied that the assessor’s report was correct in its assessment of financial and other maladministration challenges faced by the institution, adding that he believed appointing an administrator would be in the best interests of Unisa.