The once glorious University of South Africa (Unisa) is a shadow of its former self, and the accusations of incompetence point to vice-chancellor Puleng LenkaBula.
The divisions in the university’s leadership are on show with many in management “simply wishing for her to resign”. Last month Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande appointed an assessor to investigate the unending complaints of malfeasance at the university.
Renovations of the vice-chancellor’s official residence, at a cost of over R2 million, has caught the eye of the assessor. Nzimande also revealed details of the expenditure of the renovations in response to DA MP Chantel King’s questions in the National Assembly.
The DA demanded to see the itemised billing for the project and also examine the service providers involved in renovating the Cloghreen residence in Tshwane.
“The university was requested to respond and the total cost for the Cloghreen renovations amounted to R2 050 842. This includes kitchen upgrades, floors, walls, electricals, plumbing and wet works. The total budgeted amount was R2 031 869,” Nzimande said.
According to the minister, his department didn’t budget for the Unisa vice-chancellor’s home renovations.
According to sources inside LenkaBula’s office, she demanded a particular brand of electric-ware and furniture, had appliances changed to an expensive Italian brand but did not live in the house. According to the sources, this fruitless expenditure led to rifts between her and the university’s management.
“Nobody wants her here. It’s something we’ve never seen even with other VCs.
“She has brought such division to this university that management and staff are at war. Staff and students and everyone can see it” the source said.
“The assessor must assist us to save this university. On top of all her scandals, the university spent over R2m on crockery and useless things. The majority of students are on NSFAS and very needy. The institution spends millions on crockery and elitist things things and she (Lenkabula) doesn’t even live in the official house” the source said.
The university did not answer the newspaper’s questions about the VC and the breakdown in trust with management and the management committee.
The Star has seen a document claiming that the university’s IT system is compromised and that the emails of people believed to be against the VC are spied on.
This is a developing story.