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Transformation Oversight Committee expanded to 10 members

20 Jul 2017 - 10:30

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has increased from seven to 10 the number of members of the Ministerial Oversight Committee on the Transformation in the South African Public Universities.

The announcement comes just months after President Jacob Zuma signed the Higher Education Amendment Act into law. The Act gives the minister of higher education expanded authority to intervene in the process of transforming the institutions of higher learning.

This committee would assist Nzimande in assisting him with that task.

In 2012‚ Nzimande formed the first committee which was chaired by then vice chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal Malegapuru Makgoba.

Makgoba and his colleague at UKZN‚ Kesh Govinder‚ published a study in 2013 which found that it could take 43 years to achieve racial balance among staff in universities.

Nothing had since been heard of the work of the previous committee.

In a government gazette published on Friday‚ Nzimande appointed new members of the committee for a three-year term.

The list contains a number of well-known academics and representatives form society‚ including labour.

The committee will be chaired by Prof Andre Keet‚ who is director of the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State.

Keet and former University of Fort Hare chancellor Dr Mvuyo Tom are the two returning members from the previous committee.

New committee members are Prof Christine Winberg from Cape Peninsula University of Technology‚ Human Sciences Research Council CEO Prof Crain Soudien‚ Prof Pamela Maseko of Rhodes University and Prof Kopano Ratele of the University of South Africa.

Other members are commissioner of the Public Service Commission Dr Pearl Sithole‚ board member of the National Development Agency Sebenzile Matsebula‚ part-time commissioner at the Commission for Gender Equality Fundisile Nzimande and deputy secretary general of the National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers Union Zola Saphetha.

Democratic Alliance shadow minister of higher education Belinda Bozzoli said the previous committee faded into oblivion in the past few years.

“They just stopped meeting. I put in a question to Parliament to question why it was no longer meeting. I received no answer‚” Bozzoli said. Bozzoli said the enactment of the Higher Education Amendment Act into law - which gives the minister of higher education powers to intervene in university matters by setting parameters for transformation - might have necessitated the appointment of a bigger committee.

The purpose of the committee is to monitor progress on transformation in public universities‚ serve as an expert advisory body and provide independent and external advice to the minister and the department.

The committee has been given 11 tasks‚ chief of which is to study and evaluate transformation plans and charters of all universities. The committee should use this exercise as a basis for the development of a sectoral transformation charter.

The committee is also tasked with reviewing the annual reports of institutions on transformation and producing an annual report on the state of transformation in the higher education sector.

The committee is not an autonomous body. It is appointed by the minister to advise on issues of transformation.

However‚ it must act independently and objectively outside the views of the department in relation to its role of research‚ evaluation and advising the minister.