A handful of Unisa students picketed yesterday calling for the removal of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
A handful of Unisa students picketed yesterday calling for the removal of Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

EFF distances itself from calls for removal of Unisa head Puleng LenkaBula

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Oct 15, 2021

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Pretoria - The EFF Student Command has distanced itself from calls for the removal of Unisa principal and vice-chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula.

This is according to the chairperson of the branch at Unisa, Boitumelo Sekonyane, in response to a communique sent out stating that students would host a protest at the university’s Muckleneuk campus to demand that LenkaBula step down from her post.

Sekonyane said any shutdown or protest action by the student organisation would be planned through the relevant structures and due processes.

If anything, he said they were fully behind the leadership of the university council and LenkaBula, and calls for her removal were being made by disgruntled members of the organisation.

She said the members behind the contradictory statements had been suspended within the organisation pending the outcome of investigations into their conduct.

According to Sekonyane, the student leadership was disheartened and felt disrespected by factions within the student body who refused to submit to the female-led leadership of the command and LenkaBula, who is the first black woman to lead what is Africa’s only mega-university.

“We want to assure students and members of staff at the university that there is no leadership that has planned or will carry out a protest against the institution or the vice-chancellor.

“Ours is to be on the side for the oppressed and downtrodden, to ensure the plight of black students is reached by working with all stakeholders and not to cause anarchy in a poor attempt to let patriarchal norms prevail.”

Sekonyane added that the leadership of the party was aware of the issues plaguing students, and the branch was working to resolve the these issues.

With regard to allegations on LenkaBula’s fitness to hold office and issues of poor administration at the university, she said they could not jump the gun.

Sekonyane said the student body, university council and other stakeholders were still waiting for the Department of Higher Education and Training to provide them with details of the recommendations provided by the independent ministerial task team set up by Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Dr Blade Nzimande earlier this year.

Nzimande appointed the task team for a six-month period to conduct a formal review of Unisa, focusing on its institutional mandate and scope, and to analyse its capacity, systems and organisational structure in relation to its mandate and mission as a large open distance-learning institution in the South African context.

Efforts to obtain comments from former student leader Simamkele Xani were unsuccessful. The university had also not responded by late yesterday. Meanwhile, a handful of students were picketing at the Muckleneuk campus early yesterday.

Pretoria News

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