Monday, August 1, 2011

If You Think You Know South Africa

Professor Johnny Molefe's invalid qualification

August 1 2011

Professor Johnny Molefe

The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has appointed Professor Johnny Molefe as vice-chancellor of the institution despite his being in possession of an invalid qualification, claiming he was the victim of an unaccredited institution.

Molefe, who has been acting vice-chancellor of TUT since last year, was appointed permanently to the position on Friday despite the controversy caused by the allegations over his unrecognised doctorate.

His appointment has raised eyebrows since it was established that the Doctor of Business Administration qualification he has was obtained from an unaccredited institution.

It has also resulted in the resignation of two university council members who were concerned about how the matter was handled.

The DA has written to Parliament’s higher education and training portfolio committee to summon the university’s council chairman to explain the appointment to Parliament.

The SA Qualifications Authority (Saqa) first wrote to the former vice-chancellor, Professor Errol Tyobeka, in 2007 informing him that Molefe’s qualification was not legitimate.

It was obtained from St George University International, a West Indies institution known for selling doctorates and other qualifications online.

These revelations were also brought to the attention of the university by the Ministry of Higher Education and Training, and subsequently led to an investigation by the university council.

But the council has defended Molefe, saying he was a victim of the fraudulent institution and would not have known that the university was unaccredited.

“Neither the employer nor Professor Molefe knew or could have known the ‘adverse status’ of the university.

“He could not have known that St George University International was not accredited because chances are his employers may have verified its status as well.

“Had he been fraudulent, he would not have voluntarily subjected his doctoral degree for evaluation,” said the council.

Council chairman Malesela Motlatla confirmed that Technikon North West (later merged to become TUT) had paid the fees for Molefe to obtain the doctorate from St George University International as the “institution” had misrepresented itself to the university and to Molefe.

According to Motlatla, Molefe had opted to study for his doctorate with an international university as there was no other university in South Africa that offered a doctorate in Business Administration in 2000.

He said he had no reason to lie about the doctorate as he already had enough qualifications to apply for the position.

Motlatla has also slammed Saqa for releasing an “unsolicited” report as part of an investigation that was never commissioned by the council, and of which they have no knowledge.

“Initially, the Saqa had previously issued verification for Professor Molefe’s qualifications in 2002 and 2007 respectively.

“Subsequent to that, they had since issued an unsolicited report on 31 May 2011 which states that neither St George University nor St George University International is an accredited higher education institution in the West Indies or in any other country.

“In dealing with the matter, Saqa violated its own rules and guidelines for confidentiality, fairness, integrity, honesty, and consistency,” said Motlatla.

Dr Junita Kloppers-Lourens MP, DA shadow minister of higher education and training, said the appointment of Molefe was “absolutely unacceptable” and she accused Molefe of having been involved in a criminal act.

She confirmed that she had sent a letter to portfolio committee chairman Motswane Malale that the TUT Council chairman should be summoned to give an explanation of the “bizarre” decision.

“The man is guilty of fraud because he actually solicited a fake qualification and passed it off as legitimate in his CV despite knowing very well that it is not.

“He is guilty of a criminal act and it is unacceptable that external members of the council have pushed for him to be appointed regardless of the evidence that he was involved in fraud,” said Kloppers-Lourens.

She said it was very concerning that TUT was in the business of rewarding students with qualification for their hard work, yet they had appointed a vice-chancellor who had obtained his qualifications fraudulently.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said it would only comment on the matter after the union had met today.

TUT Central SRC president Nkululeko Maphanga said the SRC would only communicate its official position on the matter on Monday.

Molefe said he was not yet in a position to comment on the university council’s decision to appoint him.