Africa-Press – South-Africa. Pretoria – Parliament’s portfolio committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology has agreed to allow the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) council to get on with its mandate, unhindered.
The latest announcement signalled the end to a protracted stand-off between the committee and the university over its business model and protracted disciplinary cases.
The committee said the decision was made following a briefing with the university last week, on three matters that were not adequately presented and responded to at a meeting held in February.
Committee chairperson Philly Mapulane said the matters included the dragging on of disciplinary cases, in particular the case of a senior official on suspension for two years; abandoned infrastructure development projects; and the report of the assessor into the entity TUT Enterprise Holdings.
Mapulane said they were pleased with the recent presentations and responses provided by the university council, management and the chief executive of the entity, Nick Motsatse, in that a number of issues of concern had been somewhat resolved.
First of these was the finalisation of the disciplinary case of the official.
“We are very pleased that the matter was finally brought to finality, as we were gravely concerned that the senior executive was suspended for two years, sitting at home and receiving a salary from the institution without providing a service, which must have been very frustrating not only for him, but also for the university.
“At the same time, the university was paying a salary to an incumbent who was acting in the position of the suspended official,” said Mapulane.
Although both the university council and entity had contested the findings of the assessor on the basis of the assessment not benchmarking with other universities, Mapulane said they were pleased that the findings were not dismissed by the stakeholders.
The university council committed to reviewing and strengthening the governance of the entity, with the view to further investigate alleged irregular appointments and undue financial benefit by some university officials.
“The committee is not opposed to the establishment of enterprises or private companies to generate a third stream income, to support the provision of quality higher education and research.
“In fact, we support institutions in their endeavours to generate third-stream funding to augment the budget shortfalls. However, we urge institutions to ensure that there are proper governance structures and accountability of these enterprises,” said the committee in a statement.
Furthermore, even though the committee received an update regarding abandoned infrastructure at the university’s Ga-Rankuwa, Soshanguve South and North Campuses, Pretoria Arts, Emalahleni, Mbombela, and Pretoria West Campuses, Mapulane said they were worried about the increased costs of recovering and completing projects that were previously abandoned by the contractors.
“These unforeseen or contingency costs should have been included in the budget, during the design phase of the projects, to avert variations. However, in the interim, we have directed the university to institute an independent assessment audit to determine the value for money and consequence management, against all the contractors who abandoned the projects and those that did shoddy work.
“The committee was unanimous in its view that the ongoing engagements with the university must be brought to an end and that the council must be given space to exercise its duty of governing the university, and that the committee will continue to exercise its oversight function by receiving the quarterly reports, as resolved in the meeting,” concluded Mapulane.