Blade Nzimande — the minister of higher education and training, science and technology — has appointed former University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor, Professor Ihron Rensburg, as an administrator at the Vaal University of Technology.
Rensburg’s appointment comes after higher education minister Naledi Pandor, appointed professors Barney Pityana and Rocky Ralebipi-Simela, as independent assessors at the university earlier this year to investigate the challenges around governance and management at the institution.
In a statement, Nzimande said Rensburg’s appointment comes after an interim report by Pityana and Ralebipi-Simela about the challenges the university is facing.
Nzimande said he wrote to the university’s council last month stating his intentions to appoint an administrator and the council — which is VUT’s highest decision-making body — responded early this month saying that it was voluntarily stepping down.
City Press reported in May that VUT’s vice-chancellor, Professor Gordon Zide, was under fire for appointing a female director in his office who was seen to be underqualified for the position. The newspaper also reported that there were concerns about poor governance and administration under Zide’s leadership.
These controversies come just over two years since Zide was appointed as vice-chancellor at VUT.
This is not the first time the university has been placed under administration.
In 2012, under the leadership of Professor Irene Moutlana, Nzimande placed the university under administration after independent assessor, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, found that there was unending conflict and cliques in VUT’s council and top management.