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Why was ‘incapable’ VUT principal appointed? Ask this unionist, say profs

2020-02-17 13:00

A unionist has been singled out as a key figure behind the appointment of Vaal University of Technology (VUT) vice-chancellor and principal Ndodomzi Zide.

Zide’s leadership style has been criticised by professors Barney Pityana and Rocky Ralebipi-Simela in their report into the state of affairs at VUT.

The report was published in the Government Gazette by Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande on Friday.

Pityana and Ralebipi-Simela were appointed by Nzimande’s predecessor, Naledi Pandor, last year to investigate a number of allegations relating to mismanagement at VUT.

The report portrays Joseph Radebe, the branch chairperson of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union at VUT, as a key figure who backed Zide’s appointment and, in turn, received favours from him. These include having charges of misconduct against Radebe withdrawn at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in September 2017.

Zide took office in May that year.

According to the report, Zide told the CCMA commissioner that he had not received a handover report from his predecessor about Radebe’s matter.

This, despite a case against another university official – who was facing a charge relating to the employment of his daughter – not being withdrawn.

The report supersedes all the submissions that were sent to the assessors. It will be no use to fight like headless chickens
Joseph Radebe, the branch chairperson of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union at VUT

Radebe, a social justice and transformation manager at VUT, faced charges related to the employment of his wife at the university.

Radebe told City Press on Friday that he accepted the professors’ report, adding that he had responded to them about the allegations made against him.

“I don’t want to go back and forth overanalysing the report. In a nutshell, I accept the report as it is. As responsible leaders, we need to accept the recommendations. The report supersedes all the submissions that were sent to the assessors. It will be no use to fight like headless chickens.”

He said those entrusted with taking the recommendations of the report forward, even if that meant implementing disciplinary measures, should be allowed to do so for the sake of the university.

Radebe said allegations against him were properly investigated by the assessors.

“I think justice has been done. The report is self-explanatory.”

Key findings made about Zide in the professors’ report include:

  • He was incapable of giving strategic leadership to the university;
  • He could not offer credible and effective management; and
  • His contract, which is valid until 2022, should be reassessed by Nzimande, and the minister should appoint an administrator for the university.

The university’s council resigned last year. This resulted in the appointment of former University of Johannesburg principal and vice-chancellor Professor Ihron Rensburg as administrator at VUT.

Ishmael Mnisi, spokesperson for Nzimande, said Professor Rensburg’s appointment was made in August 2019 for two years. Zide and VUT spokesperson Mike Khuboni had also not responded to questions by the time of writing.


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March 29 2020