Elaborating on the lack of confidence we have in the Minister of Higher Education to resolve the life-threatening situation at Fort Hare University on eNCA earlier today, SAFTU’s General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi erroneously attributed the example he used to the University of Pretoria (UP) instead of Tshwane South College (TSC).
We wish to correct this. The issue SAFTU took of maladministration, corruption and the subsequent harassment and dismissal of whistle blowers was not at the University of Pretoria but at Tshwane South TVET College.
In 2017, SAFTU was invited by members of its affiliate, Vision Integrated Workers Union (VIWU), to intervene in a matter of corruption involving the principal of TSC. This matter had already been elevated to the Public Protector, who had already issued a report with remedial actions calling on the Minister of Higher Education to amongst others:
- conduct an inquiry to review the dismissals and disciplinary actions taken against the members of the TSC Forum.
- ensure the inquiry explores the possibility of compensating members of the TSC Forum that suffered prejudice as a result of the dismissals and disciplinary actions if it is found that they have suffered occupational detriment as a result of the protected disclosure.
- consider instituting disciplinary actions against the Principal, Mr. Chiloane, in terms of section 16A (2) of the Public Service Act for failing to take necessary disciplinary action against Acting Principal Mr. Kraft, Ms Bouwer and Ms Jonker, by not terminating the GMZ Consulting contract timeously and for conflict of interest in that he participated in the disciplinary hearings of employees in which he was the subject matter.
- Establish mechanisms to effect the protection of employees who make protected disclosures at TSC.
The TSC forum (Tshwane South College forum) was a forum made of staff dedicated to clean administration and who fought corruption within the TSC. Members of this forum were prejudiced, harassed and dismissed from the college, and to this day, they are languishing in unemployment and poverty due to such dismissals.
SAFTU intervened by a telephonic call to the Minister of Higher Education, following it up with a two written submissions, and a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, in which we requested them to implement the remedial actions of the public protector. In his response to the first letter in 2017, the Minister gave excuse not to implement the remedial actions by saying he is taking the report on review.
To the best of our knowledge, no outcome of such review was published (unless we have not seen it). It suggests that the Minister of Higher education never took the report on review and therefore, has failed to implement the remedial actions that the department was supposed to have taken.
Given this experience, SAFTU is right to lack confidence in the willingness and determination of the Minister of Higher Education to clean corruption in the higher education sector and to protect those whose lives are endangered for daring to fight corruption. Corruption has festered throughout the higher education sector and the attempts to murder Prof Sakhela Buhlungu are by products and logical consequences of such rot and corruption. People who are thriving through corruption in the higher education sector and beyond will necessarily resort to kill those fighting corruption for fear of prosecution and to defend their sources of looting and personal enrichment.