This follows a High Court ruling two days prior that minister Blade Nzimande’s decision was a breach of order by the court.

Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande withdrew a government gazette detailing the appointment of an administrator for Unisa two days after the High Court ruled he should do so.

The decision on Friday relates to Government Notice No. 4015 published in Government Gazette No. 49582 Vol 700 on 27 October 2023, in which Nzimande detailed the appointment based on the recommendations of independent assessor Themba Mosia’s report on the struggling institution.

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Judge Leicester Adams had ordered the minister not to act on these recommendations until two applications challenging it had been concluded. Nevertheless, Nzimande appeared to make former University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Professor Ihron Rensburg Unisa’s administrator.

The institution’s council had also been dissolved following allegations of mismanagement.

The investigation

Mosia was appointed in September 2022 to conduct an investigation into the affairs of Unisa and compile a report with its findings and recommendations.

The report was submitted to Nzimande in March this year before being tabled in Parliament in May.

Mosia’s investigations uncovered financial and other maladministration that undermined Unisa’s effective functioning, yet “performance bonuses were being paid to the executive management.”

Furthermore, the ministerial task team’s report found that Unisa’s council had failed the university “dismally”.

“The council has failed to ensure the basic assurance services and functions necessary to secure the effectiveness of governance, risk management and control processes.

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“After careful consideration of the above, it is indicative that the fiduciary duty of the council has been severely compromised, and the dissolution of the council and the consequent appointment of an administrator in terms of Section 49B of the act is therefore in the best interest of the university,” the gazette notice read.

No changes at ground level

It was said the functioning of Unisa would not be affected when the institution came under administration, and the department assured students their studies would not be impacted.

“There are no implications to students nor the curriculum. This is about the management of the institution, should the minister finally decide to proceed with it,” department spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said.

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