University of South Africa (Unisa) campuses across the Eastern Cape shut down on Monday after the regional student representative council (RSRC) alleged that administrative staff were ignoring their complaints.
According to Eastern Cape SRC chairperson Mawande Naki, the RSRC had raised their concerns as far back as 2018. as far back as last year.
One issue raised was the lack of security at the Mthatha campus.
“Criminals could just get at the campus and walk around,” Naki said.
He said muggers often targeted students with disabilities and that little was being done to stop criminals. them.
The RSRC also complained about a had brought to the management was the lack of staff able to assist them with their issues.
“Students are travelling hundreds of kilometres only to find that they cannot be helped or assisted,” said Naki said.
In a memorandum delivered to Unisa vice-chancellor professor Mandla Makhanya on September 20, the RSRC laid out numerous allegations of irregularities with regards to hiring practices by the university.
Among the claims were allegations of nepotism, bypassing standard Unisa protocols and deliberately side-lining the RSRC.
The memorandum accuses Unisa’s human resources (HR) department of not properly advertising vacant positions and then privately filling them without oversight.
“The decisions taken [about who to appoint] are against student needs and against labour legislation,” the memorandum states.
The RSRC also alleges that it was excluded from consulting with human resources by with regards to headhunting new staff, despite it being required by the HR department’s policy.
It says the RSRC was asked to sign off appointments which they were not previously informed about while refusing to communicate or meet with RSRC representatives.
The RSRC proposes a number of recommendations in the memorandum, such as eliminating favouritism in the hiring process, instituting fixed-term contract procedures and increased transparency in the appointment process.
“The office of Prof Makhanya is officially requested through this memorandum to ensure that the strategic objectives of Unisa are done in a manner of social responsibility, good governance, sound management and administrative justice.
“Failur to ensure this will bring the region to a loss of credibility and a state of instability [sic].”
Prof Makhanya and Prof Somadoda Fikeni had not responded to questions sent by the GO! & Express by the time of going to print.