The recent exposé by the Sunday World Newspaper and the Labour Court of South Africa’s judgment has brought to light the systemic issues that FEDUSA and its affiliates have been raising over the past year. On multiple occasions, FEDUSA has corresponded with the DUT Council, Dr. Bonginkosi Nzimande, the Minister of Education, Training, and Innovation, and the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, seeking intervention on various issues, including but not limited to perpetual maladministration, financial misconduct, doctored reports, a culture of fear among staff, irregular appointments, authoritative leadership styles, abuse of authority, the symbiotic relationship between the Chairperson of Council and the Vice Chancellor, and the failure of the Council to exercise fiduciary duty over its executive. Despite these efforts, there has been no substantive action.

In response to the evident maladministration and the Council’s inability to investigate itself, FEDUSA has repeatedly called for the intervention of the Minister of Higher Education and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to institute an independent investigation at the Durban University of Technology. Regrettably, these calls have been met with no success.

The recent revelations in the Sunday World regarding the Durban University of Technology’s response come as no surprise to FEDUSA. The University’s defensive posture, as highlighted in its response, further underscores the challenges faced, including a culture of fear among employees and the utilization of biased whistleblower services. FEDUSA has recently issued a media statement regarding the initial phase of mass retrenchment at the University. The retrenchment claims made by FEDUSA were refuted in the media by the current “Deputy Vice Chancellor,” Dr. Vuyo Lindelwa Mthethwa. However, the Labour Court’s subsequent judgment found the process inadequate and procedurally unfair, leading to the successful interdiction by our affiliate TENUSA (Tertiary Education National Union of South Africa).

The ongoing Labour Court case from 2021, involving the retrenchment of 38 lecturers, is still pending trial on substantive grounds, with one concluded CCMA case in favor of the employee. The University’s misuse of restructuring processes and irregular appointments has created an atmosphere of fear among long-standing employees, particularly those with institutional memory, often based on ethnic considerations.

FEDUSA has consistently raised concerns about irregularities in the University’s tender processes, notably in the security tender process leading to the appointment of Izikhova Security Services. Despite complaints to the Council being ignored, subsequent legal challenges, such as the Mzansi Fire and Security (Pty) LTD case, have revealed unconstitutional and invalid practices by the University. The University’s pattern of appealing adverse judgments without due consideration for legal merit reflects a lack of accountability and responsible governance.

The orchestrated departure of the former Deputy Vice Chancellor, Dr. Isaac Machi, has paved the way for engineered appointments in critical roles, raising questions about the University’s commitment to meritocracy. FEDUSA highlights concerns about nepotism and potential conflicts of interest in these appointments.

In light of the outlined issues, FEDUSA calls for the immediate dissolution of the DUT Council, the resignation of Vice Chancellor Prof. Thandwa Mthembu, and the appointment of an Administrator to conduct a comprehensive investigation and a Lifestyle Audit of Council members and Executive Management at the Durban University of Technology.

FEDUSA asserts that South African universities should not be exploited for corrupt gains, and it calls for decisive action to curb such malpractices. The organization strongly emphasises the need for transparency, accountability, and ethical leadership within the higher education sector.