Adam Habib’s stance on student’s funding is disappointing

Adam Habib’s stance on student’s funding is disappointing

MAN IN MIDDLE. University of the Witwatersrand vice-chancellor Adam Habib among protesting students. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

We believe that a person in a position of influence such as Habib must recuse himself from any matters where there is a personal connection.

One of the biggest problems this country faces is inefficiency, or incompetence, brought about by “cadre deployment”, “jobs for pals” or, to give it its correct title – nepotism.

In a country where there are so many looking for educational or employment opportunities, it is a depressing reality that “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”…

That is why it is so worrying to us that a senior academic and leader of society seems to lack the understanding that he should be above all reproach when it comes to the exercise of his power and influence.

This week, it emerged that Professor Adam Habib, vice-chancellor of Wits University, had intervened in a funding application from a student who was a friend of his son’s. He forwarded an email request from the student – who also referred to a “farewell gathering” for Habib’s son at Habib’s residence – to others in the university administration, asking if funding options for the student could be explored.

Habib steadfastly maintains there was nothing wrong in what he did and that he does similar things often in his job. He goes further, however, to say he would do it again.

We believe that a person in a position of influence such as Habib must recuse himself from any matters where there is a personal connection. If he does not, then the suspicion will always remain – his denials notwithstanding – that strings were pulled. His underlings would, naturally, not want to get on his bad side by going against him.

It is perturbing that Habib does not see any potential conflict of interest in such a situation.

We would ask simply: what would have happened to the student had he not been fortunate enough to know Habib’s son?

We are, to say the least, disappointed in Habib.

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