Health Sciences University defends appointment of new vice-chancellor

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The Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) has defended the appointment of Professor Peter Mbati as vice-chancellor, despite looming legal action, reports News24. “Prof Mbati’s appointment was procedurally fair, and the process leading up to his appointment was in line with the provisions of the Higher Education Act, SMU Institutional Statute and applicable university polices,” director of communications Dr Eric Pule said.

The SMU council appointed Mbati to the position on 24 April. He will assume his role on 1 June. This comes after the Higher Education Transformation Network (HETN) indicated its intention to initiate legal action against SMU for the decision, claiming that Mbati “is not fit and proper for the role of vice-chancellor”. The HETN said in a statement on 14 May that the objective of the planned litigation was to urgently interdict the SMU council from proceeding with the appointment.

“We reiterate our view that the SMU cannot be allowed to proceed with the above appointment, as the recruitment process is flawed and the appointment is not in line with the objectives set by the National Development Plan Vision 2030, which states that the higher education sector (must) ‘ensure that black South Africans and women make up 50% of the reaching and research staff of universities’,” the network said.

According to the report, the SMU said Mbati’s “impeccable credentials and performance record as an institutional leader for more than a decade puts him in good stead to lead the university”. In addition, the council states that allegations levelled at Mbati were investigated and that it was found that he had been cleared by a court of law.

“It is deeply troubling to observe the emerging narrative and what seems to be a coordinated campaign, in both the media and public discourse, to cast aspersions on the credibility and legitimacy of these processes, and the integrity of Prof Mbati.”

The report says the institution has further indicated that it will strongly oppose any legal action.

Full News24 report

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