Department professes ignorance over new university boss

The higher education department has not been informed that the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has a new vice chancellor, it said on Tuesday.

“We cannot say anything. The department has not been informed of his appointment,” the department’s acting director general Gwebs Qonde said.

The appointment of the university’s vice chancellor was a matter for the university’s council, he said.

It was announced on Friday that acting vice chancellor Johnny Molefe was being appointed to the post—even though his qualification had been declared invalid by the South African Qualifications Authority.

Qonde denied a report in Tuesday’s Business Day that the department had given TUT until Friday to explain why it should not be placed under administration.

“I don’t know where they are getting that,” he said.

In June last year, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande appointed businessman Dr Vincent Maphai to investigate the university. One of his recommendations was to place the institution under administration if it had not addressed key problem areas detailed in his report, by December 2010.

A major focus of his report, which was published in the Government Gazette on November 22, was on reforming the university’s council and ensuring that its debate focused on university issues and “not how much council is to be paid”.

Department spokesperson Muzi Khumalo said in terms of the law, Nzimande would have to convene a meeting with the university’s council before he could place the institution under administration.

He did not know if a date had been set for such a meeting.

“Engagements” between TUT and the department were taking place on issues raised in the report, he said.

On Tuesday, Business Day quoted former university council member Dr Adele Gordon as saying a task team investigated Molefe’s qualifications in 2007.

It reported that no local or international body was willing to recognise his doctorate in business administration from St George’s University International, in the Bahamas, which no longer existed.

Khumalo said he was aware of the issue surrounding Molefe’s doctorate, but said he could not comment until Nzimande had met with the parties concerned.

Comment could not immediately be obtained from TUT.—Sapa

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