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Published: 11 Sep 2012
|SA: Statement by Congress of the People, defends Universities' autonomy (11/09/2012)|
When Honourable Minister of Higher Education appointed Assessors indiscriminately to investigate so called corruption in universities which are mainly black led, we took him for his word and believed him. He spent close to half a million rand on these assessors before the Council of the Central University of the Free State successfully challenged him.
The Judgement in this case has put my mind in doubt about the authenticity of reasons given to South Africans concerning the Minister‘s interference in the affairs of these universities. He initiated his action based on anonymous letter whose allegations were untested. What is interesting about what followed is the type of collaboration of those who are opposed in the transformation, the Tenderpreneurs and the Stalinists in trying to take over the control of this university. This unholy alliance will never be sustainable because what they are against is fairness and justice.
Since the pronouncement of this Daffue judgement, the Minister has been making some noise which can be construed as threatening the autonomy of all universities. His comments are inimical to those of apartheid leaders who always changed the law to meet their interest every time they lost in court.
The Minister must understand that Section 16(1)(d) of the constitution guarantees academic freedom and freedom of scientific research. Incidentally, Speaker, academic freedom goes hand in hand with institutional autonomy which the Honourable Minister of Higher Education is determined to undermine. The Minister has been found to have misunderstood Section 41A (1) of the Higher Education Act which he incidentally presided over when he was the Chairperson of Education Portfolio Committee. He has no powers to dissolve the Council or take disciplinary action against Vice Chancellors of universities.
Speaker, the Minister is supposed to know that there is a difference between state control and state supervision. Whilst COPE understands that the nature of Stalinists is to clamour for state control, the Minister and those of his ilk should not be allowed to erode autonomy of universities under the pretext of state supervision. The Minister must be stopped in his tracks before he turns universities into glorified high schools which will definitely be mismanaged by centralisation of university administration and control.
Honourable Minister, I assure you that COPE will use everything within its power to oppose your attempt to undermine autonomy of universities. This will happen despite your support from right-wingers and Tenderpreneurs.