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Growing calls for Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to release MUT report

Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande. Picture: Chris Collingridge.

Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande. Picture: Chris Collingridge.

Published Mar 16, 2022

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DURBAN - POLITICAL figures, labour and student bodies have called on Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to make public the findings of an independent assessor on the affairs of Mangosuthu University of Technology.

This was confirmed by higher education portfolio committee chairperson, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, who said her committee had been inundated with requests for the release of the report. “The committee is inundated with letters of concern from MPs who have been approached by some of the university’s stakeholders as well as other interested persons regarding the delayed release of the Independent Assessor’s Report (Staak Report) of the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT),” said Mkhatshwa yesterday.

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She added that they had since written to Nzimande to inform him about the concerns but had not received a response. According to Mkhatshwa, the committee was equally concerned about the delays in the release of the report.

“Considering the ongoing challenges at the institution, the committee equally shares the concerns of members and stakeholders considering the urgent need to stabilise the institution through the possible implementation of the recommendations in the report,” the chairperson said.

The committee, she added, had not received a progress report on MUT since its last engagement with the university on February 12.

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Attempts to get the minister to release the report include appeals for intervention from former IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the Public

Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and university chancellor Lindiwe Sisulu. They failed to achieve the desired outcome. Last month, UDM leader General Bantu Holomisa wrote to Mkhatshwa requesting an urgent committee meeting to discuss the report.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union’s (Nehawu) KZN secretary Ayanda Zulu, said several attempts to get Nzimande to release the report had been unsuccessful.

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“Clearly, we need to apply more pressure so that the report can be made public, because we believe it will shed more light not only on the problems at the institution, but equally on what should be done to address them,” said Zulu.

Nehawu has been very critical of MUT, accusing the council of meddling in operational matters at the institution. Problems at MUT were once again laid bare when it emerged that the institution allegedly owed more than R7 million to eThekwini Municipality on its water account, with reports that the water supply at the campus had been disrupted.

The institution does not have a vice-chancellor after parting ways with its former head Dr Enoch Malaza earlier this year. The former vice-chancellor had an acrimonious relationship with the council, and successfully challenged its decision to force him to retire before the end of his five-year contract.

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Department spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said the report has been released and sent to the MUT council. “The report will further be published in the Government Gazette probably by March 25, 2022. Upon publishing the report, it will also be available on our departmental website,” said Mnisi.

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