Unisa Report Demonstrates Need For Greater Accountability

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Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande will soon have to make a decision concerning the country's largest university. This comes after they received a scathing report into the institution's affairs.

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A report investigating maladministration, tender irregularities, and governance failures at the University of South Africa (Unisa) has recommended that the institution be placed under administration. 

According to Professor Themba Mosia's independent report, the university's management has failed to fulfil its mandate, highlighting the misappropriation of millions of rands and possible involvement of staff in tender irregularities.

Sean Muller from the University of Johannesburg emphasises the need for greater accountability in higher education institutions. 

They explain that Universities are public institutions and receive large amounts of public money, which should enable them to serve the interests of the public. However, they acknowledge that in a democracy, there should be protection of the autonomy of institutions from state or private sector interference. 

Let's consider the corruption in the large coal-fired power plants, they were talking about tens of billions of rands, typically universities are not spending that amount of money on infrastructure. So again in terms of those kinds of amounts, it goes under the radar but overall you know the sector is getting a huge amount of public money. 

Muller says focus on mismanagement at institutions tends to focus on financial mismanagement . However, corruption within an institution can have far-reaching effects and could impact other areas of the institution. 

They add that universities have escaped the security that other kinds of public institutions face. They are also not audited as extensively as other public institutions which could contribute to corruption. 

Unisa will not respond to media inquiries while they study the findings made in the report. The university was given 14 days upon receipt of the report and are studying its contents to respond appropriately. 

Unisa wishes to appeal to the media and the public to be patient with the process currently underway. For the same reason, Unisa will not be responding to media enquiries yet.

Minister Nzimande said they will have to consider the finding of the report and then make a decision. The minister intends to release the full report to the public in due course. Information currently available to the public is being reported by EWN.


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