Universities must be freed from stranglehold of institutional capture

Replacing one with another isn’t enough. Rigorous criteria that insist on unquestionable track records are needed

You’ve heard of state capture? Welcome to a new term making the rounds in Mzansi, institutional capture. It’s what happens when public and private interests collude to commandeer university resources for corrupt ends. In a study of dysfunction in 12 South African universities over 25 years, I have found a disturbing pattern of corruption that causes and benefits from chronic instabilities in those institutions. The provisional title of the forthcoming book is Bewitched?, a reference to a recent headline in a Sunday newspaper that asked: “Is the Vaal University of Technology an institution bewitched?”

Bewitched is, in Zulu idiom, a frustration expressed when we cannot explain seemingly complex things, such as a university that has been placed under administration two or three times, but sinks right back into disrepair when the administrator leaves. Of course, the dysfunctional universities in SA are not bewitched, they simply remain hobbled by an unresolved institutional capture...

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