South African Students Congress(SASCO) have cried foul after the unceremonious departure of respected academic Doctor Ismail Lagardien the Executive Dean of Business and Economic Sciences at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) following an acrimonious fallout with the authorities.
Lagardien is a renowned economist who was the Chief Strategist and speech-writer to Joe Stiglitz at the World Bank. He is also former journalist and activist who has been with Nelson Mandela since April 2016.
It is alleged that Dr Lagardien used ‘bad language’ during a heated transformation debate in a departmental meeting in March. Some academics took offense and reported him to the authorities. During the protracted seven month conflict Lagardien finally succumbed and resigned last week.
SASCO Western Region chairperson Bamanye Matiwane stated categorically that the party will go out of its way and fight for Lagardien’s as he was the beacon of hope for the black child studying at Nelson Mandela University . “The Broederbond running the institution is out to thwart efforts to transform the institute and maintain White dominance in all its facets.”
Matiwane went further to say that the “NMU top leadership is stifling transformation and is hell bent on rejecting black empowerment and making sure that black students and professionals do not succeed at all costs. It is worse with Economic Sciences”.
“Whites are protecting their territory at NMU and blacks are being marginalised. Black students are deliberately being failed by the institution if they for instance do not attend winter schools. Lagardien was actually helping black students through the Advancement of Black Accounting Students in Africa (ABASA) initiative particularly in that faculty. He was literally pushed out, ”continued a fuming Matiwane. SASCO leadership vowed that the reinstatement of Dr Lagardien will be part of their manifesto come election time.
Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) spokesperson Azola Mboniswa also called for radical transformation in the institute and challenged the university to hire more Black African Lectures as well as provide the necessary assistance to Black students in an effort to level the playing field which he said “favours White academics and White students, leaving Black people out in the cold. NMU must transform now.”
Mboniswa cited the case of a certain Dr Badenhorst who is still in the university payroll despite damning racism allegations levelled against him after he called Black students “Baboons ” last year. “If you equate the allegations against Dr Lagardien and Badenhorst you can clearly see what is happening in this campus”.
Nelson Mandela University spokesperson Zandile Mbabela gave a watered down version of events stating that "Dr Lagardien leaves the University of his own accord with the intention of taking time away to complete two books. The University wishes to express its gratitude to Dr Lagardien for his passionate contribution to the University, particularly with regard to transformation and for placing the faculty on a new trajectory".
All efforts to get Dr Lagardien proved futile but in a statement to his department he said, “ You have been advised, by now, that I have left Nelson Mandela University. I have done so with a great deal of sadness and loss. There is nowhere else that I would rather be, than among you”.
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