Muthambi’s TUT bull­doze

CityPress - - News - MSINDISI FENGU msindisi.fengu@city­

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi bull­dozed her way into a jour­nal­ism mas­ter’s class at the Tsh­wane Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (TUT), de­spite be­ing twice re­fused en­try by man­age­ment. City Press has learnt that TUT vice-chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Lourens van Staden and his se­nior man­age­ment ad­vised Muthambi twice that she did not meet the re­quire­ments for the qual­i­fi­ca­tion. But she con­tin­ued to at­tend classes, even though she was not reg­is­tered.

Muthambi at­tended class for the first time this year on Fe­bru­ary 4. The univer­sity com­mu­ni­cated with her in writ­ing on Fe­bru­ary 8, ad­vis­ing her of the out­come of her ap­pli­ca­tion and ex­plain­ing that non­reg­is­tered stu­dents were not per­mit­ted to at­tend th­ese classes.

The univer­sity then brought this to the at­ten­tion of the rel­e­vant author­i­ties and Van Staden sent her an­other let­ter ex­plain­ing the in­sti­tu­tion’s predica­ment.

Muthambi again at­tended the class on Fe­bru­ary 25, and on Fe­bru­ary 27, she was again ad­vised in writ­ing by the vicechan­cel­lor that her ap­pli­ca­tion to en­rol for the MTech in jour­nal­ism did not meet the re­quire­ments stip­u­lated in the TUT prospec­tus, and there­fore could not be ap­proved.

Ac­cord­ing to the univer­sity, Muthambi did not have a pre­vi­ous qual­i­fi­ca­tion in jour­nal­ism or jour­nal­ism train­ing, as set out in the prospec­tus.

How­ever, her spokesper­son, Mish Mo­lak­eng, said Muthambi had a law de­gree and her ap­pli­ca­tion to en­rol for the MTech pro­gramme was sub­mit­ted through nor­mal pro­cesses.

“Al­le­ga­tions that the min­is­ter re­ceived spe­cial treat­ment are false,” he said.

When asked whether Muthambi was still at­tend­ing classes in spite of the univer­sity’s let­ters of re­fusal, Mo­lak­eng said his ini­tial re­sponse was “suf­fi­cient”.

The rea­sons for her per­sist­ing to be part of the in­sti­tu­tion re­main un­clear. There is also no clar­ity on whether Muthambi will con­tinue at­tend­ing classes with­out the univer­sity’s con­sent.

TUT spokesper­son Willa de Ruyter con­firmed that Muthambi ap­plied to en­rol for an MTech de­gree in jour­nal­ism.

She said the min­is­ter was told that she did not qual­ify, adding that man­age­ment would con­tinue to en­gage with Muthambi “to find an am­i­ca­ble so­lu­tion”.

The in­sti­tu­tion made two pro­pos­als for her con­sid­er­a­tion to read for a mas­ter’s de­gree in the School of Busi­ness, where she could have been ac­com­mo­dated, but Muthambi has yet to re­spond.

“No pref­er­ences can be given. We can­not bend the rules. We treat ev­ery­one equally and fairly to main­tain the cred­i­bil­ity of in­sti­tu­tion,” said De Ruyter.

De Ruyter em­pha­sised that Muthambi was cur­rently “not a reg­is­tered stu­dent at TUT” un­der their jour­nal­ism course. How­ever, she added, the univer­sity was hon­oured that she had cho­sen their school of jour­nal­ism to fur­ther her stud­ies.

“We will con­tinue to en­gage with her in find­ing a suit­able qual­i­fi­ca­tion – de­pend­ing on ad­mis­sion re­quire­ments – for her to en­rol for study at TUT in fu­ture,” she said.

Some TUT stu­dents told City Press that they were in­formed late last year of there be­ing in­suf­fi­cient space and su­per­vi­sors to fa­cil­i­tate the jour­nal­ism MTech de­gree.

They said they were sur­prised to see the univer­sity mak­ing ex­cep­tions for the min­is­ter “due to her po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence”.

City Press ap­proached TUT and asked for clar­ity about place­ments. TUT in­sisted it ap­proached ev­ery ap­pli­ca­tion fairly.

“We even of­fered to pay for su­per­vi­sors or hire them from our own pock­ets,” said a con­cerned stu­dent, who asked not to be named for fear of be­ing vic­timised.

“Our pro­posal was turned down. The univer­sity sac­ri­ficed stu­dents in favour of Muthambi. It wanted to at­tract high­pro­file peo­ple be­cause she man­aged to get space, but she has not stud­ied any­thing to do with jour­nal­ism ex­cept for law.”

Muthambi holds a B.Proc de­gree (1996) from Univer­sity of Venda. It was phased out in 2001 and re­placed by an un­der­grad­u­ate LLB de­gree.

A stu­dent who has at­tended two classes with Muthambi said she was quiet in class and of­ten wore ANC re­galia. “She does not show any emo­tions in class, even when there is a po­lit­i­cal ex­am­ple made us­ing the ANC, no mat­ter how con­tro­ver­sial the sub­ject. She keeps quiet.

“Maybe she does not want to out­shine oth­ers. She sits in the front row and takes pic­tures with stu­dents who re­quest it ... She of­ten hugs, kisses and has small con­ver­sa­tions with stu­dents.”

TUT Stu­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil mem­ber MJ waka Aza­nia con­firmed that stu­dents faced the chal­lenge of lim­ited space be­cause “the univer­sity has been say­ing there are no su­per­vi­sors”.

He said he would meet with the head of depart­ment, Dr Lizette Oden­daal, to get more de­tails about the sit­u­a­tion.

Oden­daal re­ferred ques­tions to De Ruyter.


STAY­ING THE COURSE Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi seems de­ter­mined to se­cure her­self a jour­nal­ism de­gree

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