Helena Johannes

Higher Education minister, Itah Kandji-Murangi has distanced her office from renewed problems at the trouble-prone, Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) amid discrimination and favoritism allegations against Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kennedy Kandume.

“I am quite confident that the Board shall deal with whatever grievances are alleged against the CEO to the satisfaction of both parties without the involvement of my office,” said Murangi.

She said that a competent Board of Directors has been appointed to drive the strategic focus of the institution and to deal with such concerns.

The Minister’s comments come less than three months after she pledged to summon the NSFAF management and board to explain earlier allegation of impropriety at the fund.

This comes as the ministers has been accused for also contributing to the problems at the student funding institution after she tasked the board to “weed out bad apples at NSFAF.”

However, Murangi said the rhetoric did not refer to anyone specifically, but to anyone who lacks work ethics, allowing unbecoming behaviour and unprofessional conduct.

“Naturally, bad apples weed themselves out of the system as long as their behaviour and character are not aligned to the values of the institution. It is not a once off action but a process as long as the institution lives,” said Murangi.

Kandume and the NSFAF board are being accused of favoritism and gender discrimination as more women are suspended and investigated for various reasons.

“More women are suspended and investigated for just differing with the current acting CEO supported by few men at Exco level and no man is suspended despite the fact there are institutionalized corrupt practices committed by men and no one is doing anything to them as NSFAF has more man at EXCO level and this pure gender discrimination,” an inside source revealed to Windhoek Observer.

One NSFAF staffer remarked, “because the people implicated are the ones who used to instigate the general staff to file group grievances, they have now compromised the Minister as they made her act on misrepresentations, even when we used to be interviewed by Ernst & Young, we were coached by Mr Fillemon Wise Immanuel on what to say against the former CEO and he was the one deciding who to be interviewed, he was given too much power by two former board members, Ms Patty Karuaihe and and Lizheel Van Wyk.”

Kandume however denied allegations claiming that his office is unaware of such grievences.

“My office is not aware of any grievances stemming from favoritism and gender discrimination. There are however some colleagues who have registered their unhappiness with certain decisions taken by the institution in the best interest of NSFAF and Namibia at large. Such grievances are purely work related, confidential and not for public consumption,” he told Windhoek Observer.

He added, “Suspension and investigation into staff conduct is guided by our policies and informed by an offence committed by a staff member, but not an individual staff member’s gender or otherwise. We are not aware of the alleged ‘institutionalized corrupt practices committed by men’.”