Tuesday March 22, 2022

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] in the North West Province notes with disappointment the news that Dr Bismark Tyobeka has been appointed as the next Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the North-West University [NWU].

As NEHAWU, we hereby wish to register our displeasure about the decision to appoint Dr Tyobeka in this position. Our displeasure is due to the fact that Dr Tyobeka has a controversial history as a leader. The controversy surrounding this candidate includes allegations made by an anonymous whistle-blower to the Mail and Guardian who raised alarms about nepotism against him in 2015. As recently as 2019, Dr Tyobeka was implicated in collusion between the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa and National Nuclear Regulator, of which he held a position as the CEO.

Furthermore, the process and policy on the selection and appointment of the Vice-Chancellor for the NWU remains a major concern to the union and this selection of Dr Tyobeka as a suitable appointment is hereby disputed. The union has an understanding that the senate vote was 60% against the appointment of Dr Tyobeka as VC but nonetheless he was appointed.

Dr Tyobeka was still the Chairperson of the NWU Council when the same council voted for his appointment as Vice-Chancellor and we find this to be serious conflict of interest, as he resigned from his position as Chairperson of the NWU Council only after he had voted himself in and been awarded the position as VC. This is highly irregular as Dr Tyobeka should have resigned from his position as Chairperson instead of simply recusing himself from the council, as it is obvious that he had power to influence the outcomes of the appointment through the council. 

The specifications for the position as VC were drafted by the NWU University Management Committee [UMC] and we are told that they were later tempered with and changed. It is our view that this is highly irregular and points to an additional lack of governance and oversight. It certainly appears as if the specifications were altered to solely suit the appointment of Dr Tyobeka at the cost of other potential candidates which is procedurally unfair. 

Our view is that his undue influence over the VC selection process does not resemble a fair selection process and we make a clarion call for his appointment to be declared invalid. Finally, his lack of senior managerial experience in tertiary institutions also counts against his appointment as Vice-Chancellor of NWU. With so many challenges of transformation at NWU, we can’t afford questionable undertakings to impose questionable characters in the institution when the community of North West Province expects a Vice-Chancellor who will drive a progressive agenda and transform their institution.

NEHAWU calls for an independent investigation into the selection processes of the Vice-Chancellor at the NWU. We stand for a transparent and fair selection process without undue influence. The reputational harm done to the institution is of great concern and we formally oppose the appointment and requests for the process to be declared null and void with proper oversight and independence. We call on the North West University to seriously reconsider the appointment of Dr Tyobeka and speedily attend to this matter with the sense of urgency it deserves.


Issued by NEHAWU North West Secretariat Office:

For more information, please contact: 

Ntombizodwa Moepeng(NEHAWU North West Provincial Secretary) at 018 381 4585 or 063 685 1911 or email: