Outrage has ensued over backpedalling on a promise to build a Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) campus at the Bapedi Kingdom of Sekhukhune.
Despite a signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding between TUT and the Bapedi Kingdom in May 2021, the process has yet to get under way.
The delay has sparked outrage among the Bapedi nation, who are saying they feel betrayed at the non-communication and the delay, especially after President Cyril Ramaphosa endorsed the project in his visit during the burial of the late King Victoria Thulare III.
The chiefs of the kingdom are planning a sit-in at the Department of Education in Pretoria and TUT Pretoria campus in the coming weeks.
Even though there were no specific timelines for the start of the project, the campus was meant to be built at the old Sekhukhune Teaching College after that closed down.
Despite TUT’s promises at the time that it was conducting a feasibility study that was expected to take 18 months after the memorandum was signed, it has come to nil.
Responding to questions from Pretoria News, TUT’s spokesperson Phaphama Tshisikhawe said there had been talks with various stakeholders to explore the possibility of the creation of TUT campuses in the Sekhukhune and Giyani areas.
She said: “TUT as a public institution. The creation of university campuses is a competence of government. Government has not yet cleared the legal, administrative and financial hurdles that need to be cleared so as to enable the establishment of a functional campus at Giyani. We are working closely with the relevant government department and officials to address these issues.TUT will continue to engage the key government departments and the relevant civil and private sector stakeholders.”
However, Department of Higher Education spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said the department knew nothing about the agreement.
“As a department, we were not party to such an agreement. We know nothing about it,” Mnisi said.
Speaking to Pretoria News yesterday, the Bapedi Kingdom spokesperson Mampuru Phaahla Ntoampe said the kingdom has been waiting for TUT to give them feedback, to no avail.
“Since the signing of the memorandum, we have waited for the university to give us feedback. Discussions were held with the former vice-chancellor Mokholoa and we were told the final feasibility study was sent to the Department of Higher Education.
“Representing the kingdom, William Maphutha has engaged the department formally through the chief of staff in the office of the minister, Mokgadi Tena, and recently had telephonic conversation with the department’s Ishmael Mnisi, and they have no knowledge
“The project raised many positive expectations especially for young people in the community and the region as a whole … the kingdom is inundated with questions from various community structures and individuals who come all the time to enquire about the project.
“The level of disappointment is outrageous!” Ntoampe said.
He added that the kingdom was in the process of sending a delegation to both TUT and Department of Higher Education to get explanations of the progress thus far.
Part of the memorandum that is in the possession of Pretoria News included that the two parties would be building a knowledge-sharing platform that would assist with information, research, education and sharing of ideas among the relevant stakeholders-create forums, to discuss research agenda and exchange research outputs and co-facilitate stakeholder engagements in areas of common interest.