Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, has lambasted how the courts are being used to diminish his executive authority as provided by the Higher Education Act.
The Minister was expected to make a pronouncement on whether Unisa will be placed under administration on Friday.
He, however, cancelled that briefing after the high court in Pretoria ordered that he withdraw the notice.
In August, Nzimande revealed that an independent report uncovered financial difficulties and maladministration, which affect the functioning of the university.
He has criticised, what he terms as, the inconsistency in the application of ‘urgency’ or prioritisation in the country’s courts.
“I remain concerned that although the order granted by Justice Adams, on the 24th August 2023, has noted the urgency of this matter, the Court has not demonstrated any sense of urgency in finalising this matter. It is now more than a month that transpired and the matter has not yet been heard by the Court. However, the Court is able to hear an urgent application by Unisa.”
The Minister is concerned over the possible blurring of lines that separates the powers of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
Meanwhile, Unisa maintains that the independent report which informed the minister’s intention to appoint an administrator at the university is fundamentally flawed, and its recommendations totally misplaced.
They say placing the institution under administration will only be harmful.
“For that reason, the university has taken the Report on legal review to be set aside. Until the side of the university is properly heard in a legal review, in a court of law, the university believes that it is premature for the Minister to implement the recommendations of the Independent Assessor.”
The institution further claims that hat the academic programme of the university remains intact, and its finances are healthy.
Education activist, Hendrick Makaneta, says Nzimande’s strained relationship with Unisa’s council is detrimental to the future of the institution.
This after the university’s council disclosed that they will not take the minister’s actions lying down.
“What is sad about the issue of Unisa is that the relationship between the minister and the council of Unisa is no longer cordial and as such there’s a need for mediation in relation to what is transpiring at Unisa,” says Makaneta.