MEC Must Clear Air About Proposed University

Anthony Benadie MPL

DA Mpumalanga Leader

The DA is extremely concerned about the process being followed to identify and acquire land for the proposed Mpumalanga University. Our concern is compounded by the secrecy surrounding the outcomes of the feasibility study and land acquisition process for the proposed university in White River, and we fear that the focus of establishing a university is fast shifting from the benefits one would hold for the province, to the millions of rand in profits to made from the potential land transactions by unscrupulous businessmen connected to senior ANC office bearers.

This leaves the DA no choice but to take up the matter with the minister of higher education and training, Dr Blade Nzimande, and ask him to intervene in what may potentially harm the entire project from the outset.

This follows media reports that members of the task team, appointed by Nzimande to perform a feasibility study on the university’s format and location, have all, except for its head, Professor John Shongwe, been replaced by persons unknown. Of great concern are reports that selected individuals, business owners and land developers have privately been asked to submit proposals for sites for the main campus, despite the feasibility study not yet being made public, and that no invitations to bid had been published. This while the task team had already visited two locations in the area, which had allegedly been identified by the departments of education and public works, roads and transport.

The DA is highly concerned that the trend of so many questionable land deals in the past will now be continued in the land acquisition process for the university. We are also concerned over the secrecy surrounding the project, and why no public consultation process has been followed, or what the findings of the feasibility study are.

While we are absolutely committed to the establishment of such an institution in Mpumalanga, we cannot and should not allow for it to be shrouded in controversy from the outset.

We have therefore decided to write an urgent letter to minister Nzimande, and ask him to intervene in the process before it becomes a done deal. We will urge minister Nzimande to make the findings of the feasibility study public, as well as the justification for Mbombela’s suitability as seat of the main campus.

Finally, we will ask minister Nzimande to take leadership of this project, and by doing so, to follow a proper and public process in the establishment and accreditation of what will be a defining moment in the future of Mpumalanga.

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