The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education will summon the council of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) to appear before it for allegations of corruption and maladministration after the council gave “parliament the middle finger” by not appearing before the committee on Tuesday.
The committee took a particularly dim view of the snub as the chairperson of the council is a public representative himself, Gauteng MEC for Health Bandile Masuku.
The committee received several complaints from various TUT stakeholders that included serious allegations of corruption, maladministration, nepotism and abuse of power against the TUT council and its management.
The committee has resolved to conduct a preliminary inquiry into these allegations by engaging with the university and the stakeholders, according to a committee statement.
The meeting was scheduled four weeks ago but Masuku sent in a letter of apology, which committee chairperson Philly Mapulane received late on Monday.
The IFP’s Siphosethu Ngcobo said: “We cannot take insults from TUT – it would be bad – not as the portfolio committee, not as parliament.
“They would need to know there are laws in this country.”
EFF MP Peter Keetse said what really provoked his emotions was that the chairperson of the council was an MEC.
“Someone in government behaving like that!” he said.
DA MP Baxolile Nodada suggested that, in the future, they should immediately invoke parliament’s powers to summon when they suspect “people want to evade coming to parliament”.
He said the committee sent them timeous communication.
“It is quite unacceptable that they did not accept it,” he said.
Mapulane said he would engage with the speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to have a summons issued on the same day, for them to appear before the committee next week Wednesday.
“Wherever they are, they must know no one is above scrutiny,” Mapulane said.
“They just don’t want to account.”
“You can imagine, if people give parliament the middle finger, what happens on the campus.”
In a statement Mapulane released after the meeting, he said: “What the university has done today essentially amounts to giving parliament the middle finger. They were notified well in advance and they elected to come with lousy excuses not to appear before the committee in order to avoid accountability. Universities are public institutions and should account to the people of this country through their elected representatives.
“It seems there is a seriously embedded culture of impunity at TUT and the refusal by the council to come and account is indicative of that. If disregard for accountability is shown to Parliament, it surely is worse to ordinary stakeholders at the university.”