Naledi Pandor, the Higher Education Minister has disbanded the council at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape.
This follows after a range of reports in the media and the purported collapse of the university council.
Pandor said she had to “intervene directly to ensure good governance” and appointed an administrator, professor Loyiso Nongxa.
“I have decided to appoint an administrator to take over the governance of the University of Fort Hare for a period of twelve months, effective immediately,” said Pandor.
The University of Fort Hare earlier this week issued its vice-chancellor and principal professor Sakhela Buhlungu with a letter of intention to suspend him.
Buhlungu is embroiled in controversy after he allegedly approved contracts involving top architects without following procurement processes. The allegation was made in a complaint filed by the university’s suspended director of properties and services Mzwandile Sokupa, as reported.
In the complaint that Sokupa submitted to the university council, which the publication has seen, he alleged that the reason for his suspension was his refusal to sign a waiver document in support of the appointment of the two companies without going through proper channels.
Pandor said: “I have taken the decision to intervene directly to ensure good governance at the university and to make certain that an environment conducive to teaching, learning and research prevails.”
Buhlungu will remain in office while the administrator takes charge of the council.
Pandor said that Fort Hare’s newly appointed administrator Nongxa is a respected scientist and former vice-chancellor. “I am confident that he will carry out the task assigned to him with the utmost integrity and commitment.”
She has hope that Nongxa will receive the unqualified support of all members of the University of Fort Hare community, and be given the space to undertake this important responsibility.
“The University of Fort Hare is rightly the focus of public concern given its important status in the history of our country, its considerable contribution to the intellectual life of South Africa, and the role that it plays in our public higher education system in one of our poorest provinces,” continued Pandor.
The minister said that she will do everything to support the University to ensure that it functions optimally.