WITCH HUNTING AS ADMINISTRATIVE STRATEGY AT FORT HARE UNIVERSITY

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The University of Fort Hare (UFH), the Alma Mater of world renowned leaders, including former presidents Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Seretse Khama of Botswana, and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and struggle icons including Oliver Tambo, Desmond Tutu, Robert Sobukwe, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Chris Hani, and Govan Mbeki, is fast losing its relevance under the watch of its current Vice Chancellor, Professor Sakhela Buhlungu.

In a damning 2021 Convocation AGM Report, the president of the university’s Convocation, Solomzi Tshona, lamented the fate of the university since Professor Buhlungu became the VC in 2017.

The report bemoaned what it termed the “Xenophobia and exclusion of foreign academics and foreign students”

“We received reports the Fort Hare management target foreign students and foreign academics to exclude them. It is dangerous when people start making allegations that the VC is highly Xenophobic in his approach. Even now foreign students who complained that they did not have anywhere to go during lockdown are being taken to DC for crying that they have nowhere to go. We are no longer a caring university,” it declared.

It also drew attention to “Instability or unstable management” at UFH.

“This is indicated by the culture of hiring and firing of top managers. We always have most positions that have people on Acting Capacity e.g., Acting DVC, Acting Dean of Students and Acting SRC etc. It is well known that since the arrival of the VC a registrar was fired, two DVCs were fired, Deans of students were fired, managers in various divisions were fired and CFOs were fired. We observed that of all these people fired none of them was found guilty by any tribunal or court of law. We also observed that it is only the VC who is right everyone else is wrong. Unstable management compromises quality and institutional memory.”

The report lay the blame for the dwindling fortunes of the university squarely at the feet of the “Incompetent and vindictive Vice-Chancellor”.

“It is now clearer to the convocation that we have an incompetent and useless Vice Chancellor at the University of Fort Hare. He arrived 5 years ago with a mantra of fighting corruption and he is still fighting corruption until his term ends with no successful conviction of those alleged to be corrupt. We are now known as a university for losing a lot of court cases in a very embarrassing way. All the managers of the university fear him instead of respecting him. The VC fires the alleged corrupt and replace them with questionable characters that are alleged to be corrupt again. The university under his term is very hostile to the provincial government as you all can see in the public domain that provincial officials are always haunted and discouraged to work closely with the university. The VC has no ideas at all; when he works up every morning his agenda is to look for the next target person to victimize. Now that the term of office of the current VC is approaching an end it is very important for all of you as the convocation to help the university to identify a new Leader with a vision to unite and rebuild our institution,” the report lamented.

In obvious reference to the controversy surrounding the admission of prominent South Africans for postgraduate studies at the university, the report stated:

“We cannot have a University that fails to defend even its own admission policy which allows recognition of prior learning (RPL). The university may think that they are embarrassing senior leaders whom they do not like but in reality it is the university itself that is embarrassing itself in public. If we allow the University to continue to embarrass itself in public soon we will be left with no University to talk about”.

A sterling Nigerian academic and renowned professor of Policy & Public Sector Economics, Professor Edwin Ijeoma, is one of the top university dons that have been at the receiving end of Professor Buhlungu’s vindictive and xenophobic tendencies.

A South African newspaper, the Sunday World, recently went to town with an unverified allegation that Professor Ijeoma had been behind the irregular admission of the Premier of Eastern Cape, Honourable Oscar Mabuyane, another prominent alumnus and former student leader of the university, for a Master’s degree programme, an allegation that the premier has since debunked as baseless.

The Vice Chancellor is also known to be incapable of drawing the line between official matters and the personal family issues of staff of the university in a bid to persecute his perceived enemies. Attached is the full Convocation AGM Report and Premier Mabuyane’s rebuttal.

Attached is the full Convocation AGM Report and Premier Mabuyane’s rebuttal.

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