The University of South Africa has welcomed the order of the Pretoria High Court interdicting Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande from placing the institution under administration.
The university which celebrates 150 years of existence this year called Nzimande’s decision to place it under administration premature and fundamentally flawed.
The order issued by judge Harshila Kooverjie on Friday declared Nzimande’s intention to act on the notice to place Unisa under administration to be in breach of another order issued on August 24 by judge Leicester Adams.
“The minister is ordered to withdraw the notice … to immediately cease and desist from taking any steps to publish and implement the notice or take any steps of whatever nature to implement the notice,” reads the order by Kooverjie.
The minister is also ordered to pay the costs of the application.
Unisa filed an urgent application on Thursday after Nzimande issued a statement that he was going to announce his decision to place the institution under administration.
In the statement spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said Nzimande would be announcing his final decision on Unisa on Friday.
“Being mindful of the legal and administrative requirements, the minister awaited the response of the Unisa council and nothing of substance happened more than a month, instead the council is going about its business as if there is no pending decision to be taken.
“As a result, the minister cannot wait indefinitely without taking a decision,” he said,
He said Nzimande’s decision was informed by the report of the independent assessor Professor Themba Mosia, released in March 2023 and that of the 2021 report by the ministerial task team chaired by Dr Vincent Maphai.
“As expressed in previous media statements, the minister is satisfied that the independent assessor’s report reveals financial and other maladministration of a serious nature and (the) serious undermining of the effective functioning of Unisa,” said Mnisi in the statement.
“The report also reveals that the appointment of an administrator is in the best interest of Unisa and of higher education in an open and democratic society.”
In its statement, Unisa said it has always maintained that the report of the independent assessor was fundamentally flawed, and its recommendations totally misplaced.
“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.
“Unisa also believes that the institution of an administration is not necessary and may only serve to harm the university,” the university said.
“Once more, Unisa wishes to assure the public that the academic programme of the university remains intact, and its finances are healthy. In May 2023, the Council on Higher Education issued its institutional audit report that affirms that Unisa’s academic programme and quality assurance systems are largely intact and governed according to norms and standards of the sector,”
The university said it also hopes that its students will be afforded the opportunity to focus on their final examinations which are currently underway “without any form of anxiety or disturbance”.
“Further(more), we look forward to welcoming all our new students in the new academic year 2024 and appreciate their choice to study at the University of South Africa – the university of the land,” it said.
Mnisi did not respond to questions send to him.