Marchers lament ‘racist’ university
Johannesburg - Labour federation Cosatu and ANC-aligned unions have called for more powers for Education Minister Blade Nzimande, including the right to appoint and fire university chancellors.
This was heard at a march by about 1 500 people at the North West University (NWU) on Friday in a campaign to highlight the lack of transformation and alleged racism at the institution’s Potchefstroom campus.
Marchers also called for the resignation of the university’s vice-chancellor, Theuns Eloff, “for his inability to transform the university”. They said students and staff have been victimised, among other things, under Eloff’s watch.
The Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill was passed last year, giving Nzimande the powers to intervene in cases of poor or non-performance as well as those involving maladministration at higher learning institutions.
But universities remained autonomous in their appointment of vice-chancellors.
Public service union Nehawu’s first deputy president, Joe Mpisi, said the university’s Potchefstroom campus should not resemble an apartheid enclave.
“Universities want to remain autonomous because they want to continue practising apartheid. NWU is not transformed at all,” he said.
Marchers at the weekend - who included students, alumni, staff and the Higher Education Transformation Network - alleged victimisation of those who had tried to challenge the university over Thabo Makhoang’s drowning.
These included the institution’s SRC president, Orapeleng Matshediso, who was suspended from the SRC after talking to the media.
The demonstrators also raised issues of salary disparities between black and white staff, unfair dismissals, nepotism, harassment, and victimisation and employment equity.
The university said there was no basis to the allegations.
“Things raised here are devoid of any truth,” said spokesman Louis Jacobs.