DURBAN - PROFESSOR Anthony Staak, who has been appointed as an independent assessor to look into the affairs of Mangosuthu University of Technology, has begun his forensic investigation.
Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi confirmed that the assessor began the investigation on October 1, and had been given a 45-day period in which to conclude it.
This means the report is likely to be finished by mid-November. The terms of reference for the investigation, which were published in the August Government Gazette, come in the wake of problems that continue to engulf the institution, especially at senior leadership level.
“The minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation appoints Professor Anthony Staak as an independent assessor to conduct an investigation into the affairs of the Mangosuthu University of Technology, following a series of allegations and counter-allegations relating to the governance and management of the university.
“The overall purpose of the investigation is to advise the minister on the source and nature of problems; and measures required to restore good governance and management,” read the gazette.
The focus areas for the investigation will include:
Various allegations made by the vice-chancellor (VC), Dr Duma Malaza, in his correspondence with the department in March and April 2020.
Allegations of misconduct and mismanagement against the VC.
Circumstances and reasons for the suspension of the VC and other senior managers in April 2020.
The functioning, efficacy and relationships between the governance and executive management structures and portfolios.
The circumstances that led to the cash-flow problems of the university.
Any matters that, in the opinion of the assessor, may affect the effective functioning of the university, from the analysis of problems relating to governance and management.
Meanwhile, the department confirmed that the minister was also aware of plans to have the suspended VC, Malaza, retire this year.
Last week The Mercury reported on plans by the institution’s council to force Malaza to retire this year, which would be two years earlier than the five-year contract entered into between him and the institution in 2018.
Malaza was suspended by the council last year, a move that he maintains was a witch-hunt because he had reported the council’s alleged interference into day-to-day operational matters at the institution to Nzimande’s office.
The suspended VC yesterday confirmed knowledge of the appointment of an assessor and expressed optimism over the process.
“I certainly welcome the appointment, and one is hopeful that someone who is independent is going to conduct the investigation.
“It is a move we have been waiting for,” said Malaza.
MUT has over the years been plagued by problems with vice-chancellors who in some instances were unable to finish their terms.