Probe continues into Peter Mbati’s appointment at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
Pretoria - Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education, science and technology continues to probe the appointment of Professor Peter Mbati as vice-chancellor and principal of Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University.
In the latest twist, it has emerged that Mbati was in fact cleared of abuse of power allegations while at the University of Venda. He was also accused of sexual harassment, but in its judgment delivered on October 12, 2017, the Labour Court dismissed the claim.
The portfolio committee, led by Phillemon Mapulane, initially accused the institution of appointing a person tainted by allegations of sexual abuse.
However, it was confirmed that the claims were dismissed by the police and Commission for Gender Equality. Mbati was also cleared by the Limpopo institution.
The probe by the committee was put on hold after it was challenged by lawyers representing both Mbati and the University of Venda. Subsequently, Mapulane stated that processes were not intended to determine the guilt or otherwise of any individuals, or review any matters that had been decided by the courts.
Instead the committee announced its intention to investigate allegations of wasteful expenditure at his former job. At the heart of the probe were claims of maladministration relating to the procurement process for infrastructure projects at the university. These included a fleet parking area, a sports field and swimming pool, a health sciences building, residences and a teacher education building.
A forensic investigation conducted by Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo found a lack of compliance by external bodies tasked with some of the work.
It recommended that various entities, among them the university council, tightened policies and procedures.
Stakeholders such as council, trade unions and students threw their support behind Mbati and his management during his 10-year tenure.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union went as far as saying Mbati had lifted the university once unknown to heights of recognition for excellence.
Professor Mokgale Makgopa, Dean of the School of Human and Social Sciences at the time, said when Mbati left that “anyone could become a boss, but Mbati was a visionary leader, an influential manager who was talented, had humility, compassion and dedication”.
“He led by persuasion rather than coercion,” Makgopa said.
The Univen Innovative Growth Company, solely owned by the University of Venda and tasked with generating a third stream income, said its projects were approved by the board without the involvement of Mbati.
A report on work done for projects on campus was presented for approval. The information will be presented to the portfolio committee this week.
Meanwhile, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande and the Sefako Makgatho council said they stood by their decision to appoint Mbati.