Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande visited the University of Fort Hare in South Africa. The university is currently under investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for academic fraud involving government officials. The minister criticized the SIU for expanding the scope of the investigation beyond the president’s mandate. Nzimande gave the university council an ultimatum to resolve issues with stakeholders or face dissolution.
During his visit, Nzimande received several letters from whistleblowers, the university convocation, the National Tertiary Education Union, and the University Audit, Risk and Information Technology Committee. He expressed concern about the lack of confidence in the university council.
President Cyril Ramaphosa had previously authorized the SIU to probe allegations of corruption, maladministration, and academic fraud at the university involving Eastern Cape politicians and public servants. Premier Oscar Mabuyane and former premier Noxolo Kiviet are among those implicated in the investigation. Mabuyane has taken the SIU to court to challenge the investigation.
Nzimande also addressed other issues at the university, including allegations of illegal surveillance, criminal acts such as arson attacks and assaults, and the need for an inclusive stakeholder model for a sustainable future.
The University of Fort Hare has until next Tuesday to address the concerns raised by various stakeholders, and Nzimande requested reports on the cost of repairs for damages and steps taken to hold culprits accountable. The president of the convocation welcomed this development, hoping it would restore the functionality of the council and its adherence to its legislative mandate.
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