DA welcomes Nzimande’s decision to appoint a Unisa administrator

Professor Ihron Rensburg. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ANA Pictures

Professor Ihron Rensburg. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/ANA Pictures

Published Oct 31, 2023


While Unisa announced that it intends to challenge the recent decision by Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, placing the university under administration, the DA says it welcomes Nzimande’s decision to appoint an administrator to oversee Unisa affairs.

In a statement on Monday, DA shadow minister of higher education, Chantel King, said in light of the damning findings by the Independent Assessor report, this decision is long overdue.

On Friday, Nzimande announced former UJ VC Professor Ihron Rensburg as Unisa administrator.

“After reviewing the reports prepared by the Independent Assessor, Professor Themba Mosia, and the findings of the Ministerial Task Team led by Dr Vincent Maphai, I have appointed Professor Ihron Rensburg as the Administrator for the University of South Africa (Unisa) and dissolved the Council of the university in accordance with Section 49B of the Higher Education Act. As Unisa Administrator, Professor Rensburg’s appointment is for a period of 24 months,” Nzimande said.

King said: “Noting the court interdict to hold off on placing Unisa under administration until the outcome of court proceedings, we believe that the institution cannot be left hanging waiting for a dragged-out court case. The academic programme in preparation for the 2024 academic year should not be in disarray due to the in-fighting of Unisa executives (or what is left of the executive) and staff.”

The minister indicated that the appointment of the administrator was legitimate as the Independent Assessor report by Prof Themba Mosia had flagged a series of serious incidents of maladministration and supply chain challenges.

However, the current Unisa Council and its VC, Prof Puleng Lenkabula, have challenged the report and the suitability of Mosia as the legitimate person to compile the report, adding that the minister’s decision is “premature in light of pending matters before the courts”.

“The university remains firm on the view that the minister’s announcement is premature and in contempt of the Court Order of 06 October 2023 by Justice Kooverjie, that interdicted him from placing the university under administration. The same Order reaffirms the earlier Order of Justice Adams of 24 August 2023, which ordered the minister not to take any decision pending the finalisation of the interdict application by Unisa (Case Number 2023-082535) and the minister’s undertaking not to take any decision until the application to review and set aside the Independent Assessor’s report would have been heard. This matter has not been finalised and is still before the court,” Unisa said.

King urged Prof Rensburg to take the findings of Prof Mosia into consideration and recommend to Nzimande that consequence management be taken against negligent decisions taken by LenkaBula and her executive.

“The DA further calls on Minister Nzimande to amend the Higher Education Act to ensure that higher education institutions be subjected to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA),” King said.

The Star