HIGHER and Tertiary Education minister Jonathan Moyo has been accused of frustrating the appointment of Gatsha Mazithulela as pro vice-chancellor at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).
Mazithulela is currently employed at Nust Technopark, a business development unit of the institution of higher learning.
According to documents at hand, Mazithulela came out best among 13 candidates for the post last year, resulting in the Nust council seconding his name to Moyo for approval.
Without explanation, Mazithulela’s appointment was reportedly vetoed and the post is now being re-advertised.
In a letter dated September 8 last year, addressed to Moyo and copied to Higher Education permanent secretary Machivenyika Mapuranga, Nust council chairman Mike Ndubiwa confirmed Mazithulela’s appointment and sought the minister’s approval.
“The selection board recommended the appointment of Gatsha Mazithulela to the post of pro vice-chancellor (corporate affairs),” a letter seen by Southern Eye read.
“The board found Mazithulela a very suitable candidate for the post. He performed very well during the interviews and he has vast experience in both the academic and corporate spheres.
“I seek your approval, honourable minister, for the appointment of Mazithulela as pro vice chancellor (corporate affairs) at Nust.”
However, approval was not granted by Moyo, while in-house politics was also at play, amid indications that there were moves to push Mazithulela out of Nust following his successful bid for the vacant post.
In a follow up letter dated January 12, 2016 to Mazithulela, Ndubiwa made an about-turn, writing: “Please be advised that your application was not successful. However, I must thank you for your interest that you showed in the post.”
Following his snub, Mazithulela wrote to Moyo querying why he had been dropped from the post.
“You may remember that in September 2015, I was chosen by the Nust council to be appointed as pro vice-chancellor (corporate affairs) and that you blocked my appointment and ordered that the post be re-advertised. This is, at least, how the matter has been put to me,” he wrote.
“I think you are also aware of the acrimony that existed among the senior officers at Nust at some point towards the end of [Lindela] Ndlovu’s contract and how all sorts of camps and alignments to either Ndlovu or others (real or imagined) began to exist, with very devastating results on personal relations.
“As a result, council’s resolution to have me appointed as pro vice-chancellor attracted dismay from those who were against me for whatever reason. It would seem that your subsequent refusal for me to take up the post was seen as an opportunity to add new impetus to unprofessional behaviour and saw the beginning of efforts to oust me from my current job and block me from any other employment at Nust.
Mazithulela described this year as a difficult one for him, saying there were manoeuvres to oust him from his position.
“I have seen a total onslaught against me with a recent refusal for the extension of my temporary contract and a refusal by the VC [vice-chancellor] for me to be appointed as a research fellow in an academic department,” he continued.
“I have fought both decisions and got some relief via an extension for six months and a promise that the academic post will be advertised.
“In both cases, your name has been dragged into the reasons why such decisions were taken. I do not believe that you could lower yourself to be concerned about the things I am mentioning here and I see it as the milking of the fact that, somehow, your decision to block me from being pro vice-chancellor has strengthened the hand of those who seek my total removal from Nust.”
Mazithulela pleaded for a meeting with Moyo, the Tsholotsho North legislator, saying: “As a boy from Tsholotsho, I feel that I should engage you as my leader and try to understand what really is happening with my career, and, therefore, I request to have an opportunity to talk to you privately.”
A source close to the matter said Mazithulela approached lawyers, who advised him that he could raise constitutional issues about the matter, as it was clear the initial letter supported his appointment based on merit.
“The Constitution provides that such appointments must be on merit,” a letter from the lawyers read.
“As long as the council has made a decision to appoint an individual to the office of pro vice-chancellor, the minister has no discretion, but to approve such an appointment. The function of the minister is limited to approving the appointment, no more, no less.”
The lawyers told Mazithulela he could appeal to the High Court, although it is not clear whether he did so.
Mazithulela yesterday declined to comment on the matter, questioning how Southern Eye received private documents, before saying this was a contractual issue between him and his employer.
Moyo also declined to comment on the matter, referring all questions to Nust.
“Thank you for your email. Please direct your enquiries to Nust itself, whose council is the employer in terms of the Nust Act,” he said in an emailed response.
Efforts to get a comment from Nust yesterday were fruitless.
Previously, Mazithulela worked as the acting permanent secretary in the Economic Planning ministry, then headed by Simon Khaya Moyo.