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Alarm over ‘fake’ Unisa top executive; academics demand acting executive dean in the College of Accounting Sciences must go

A group of staff at Unisa wrote a complaint addressed to the institution’s council over allegations that Mandisa Gandela, pictured, the Acting Executive Dean in the College of Accounting Sciences, was appointed to the position despite her lack of qualifications for the top job. I SUPPLIED

A group of staff at Unisa wrote a complaint addressed to the institution’s council over allegations that Mandisa Gandela, pictured, the Acting Executive Dean in the College of Accounting Sciences, was appointed to the position despite her lack of qualifications for the top job. I SUPPLIED

Published Dec 14, 2021

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DURBAN - A GROUP of academics at the University of South Africa (Unisa) have raised the alarm over the alleged abuse of power and appointment of unqualified individuals into senior positions.

The aggrieved academics are demanding that Mandisa Gandela, the acting executive dean in the College of Accounting Sciences, be removed and the vice-principal of teaching, learning, and community engagement be investigated for presiding over an alleged botched process to appoint candidates favoured by the vice-principal.

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The Daily News has documents revealing a complaint addressed to Unisa’s council over allegations that Gandela was appointed despite her alleged lack of qualifications for the top job.

“Ms Gandela holds an honours degree in Accounting Sciences (a CTA qualification) and the qualification required for executive dean is a PhD, a qualification she does not have. The PhD requirement for the position is prescribed in the university policy.

“Paragraph 2.3 of the policy on acting and secondments for directors and above requires relevant employees to be provided with an opportunity to act. Relevant qualifying employees are those who at least hold PhD qualifications. Her appointment as executive dean is therefore irregular because of her lower qualifications,” the complaint read.

“This appointment is enabled by some executives of the university. The university is stalling the process of advertising the positions for the executive dean for the college, creating the impression that it prefers to have Ms Gandela acting in either of the two positions for longer than necessary.”

They demanded the immediate termination of Gandela’s contract. In addition, they demanded that Gandela not be considered for acting deputy executive dean positions and director of the school as she does not have a PhD qualification and that both positions be advertised.

Among other complaints raised was the lack of transparency by Gandela’s department on subvention from the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). “Both the management committee (ManCom) and the executive committee (Exco) are not aware of how much the College of Accounting Sciences received from SAICA in the form of subvention. Subvention will be paid without it being confirmed by ManCom and Exco as it has happened in the previous years. Ms Gandela should have disclosed the information regarding subvention to ManCom and Exco,” read the letter.

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Subvention is allocated to all universities which offer SAICA programmes as a bonus for academics assisting on SAICA programmes.

On December 6, the Daily News approached Gandela for a comment. She declined, stating that she was not authorised to speak to the media.

In pursuit of establishing the facts and providing Unisa with the right to reply, the Daily News sent questions to the vice-principal of teaching, learning, and community engagement, but no response was received from her office.

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On Sunday, the recently appointed principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Puleng LenkaBula, said she had found many problems at Unisa and was investigating all the issues at the institution.

In an official response by the university, spokesperson Thomas Huma said it was customary at Unisa that when the executive dean was not available the deputy executive dean took over that role and functions.

“The former executive dean left the university somewhat suddenly. The deputy dean was accordingly required to act in the vacant position to ensure stability in the college. It should be noted that acting appointments at the university are the responsibility of university management and are regulated by the relevant policy.

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“Among the factors considered by management when identifying candidates for acting appointments are candidates’ qualifications, competencies, developmental plans, etc. The university had anticipated that the vacant position of executive dean would be filled as speedily as possible. However, this has taken longer than anticipated. It is anticipated that this process will be finalised early in the new year,” said Huma.

The university said that in the interim, it had resolved to appoint Dr M Hlongwane to act as executive dean.

Responding to the matter regarding SAICA subvention, Huma said the subvention was set to be paid within the next payroll.

“The university maintains its long-standing position that Human Resources-related matters, including relationships among staff and staff discipline, are internal university matters that must be handled and confined inside the institution; and dealt with via internal university processes. “We do not condone the ventilation of such matters in the public domain.”

Daily News

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