Higher Education, Training and Innovation minister, Itah Kandji-Murangi on Tuesday said she will summon the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) board and management to explain various allegation of impropriety at the fund.
This comes as a letter written by a concerned staff member making rounds, raised various allegations against the organization, including cases of staff victimization, corruption and wasteful expenditure running into millions.
“I have received the letter from the Acting Chief Executive Officer and when a letter like this brings out significant allegations, it calls for them to be looked into. Given the magnitude of the allegations being raised, the best is to meet the Exco and the board. I will direct the board to look into the veracity of allegations being raised,” she told the Windhoek Observer.
In one of the allegations raised, the fund’s Chief Information Officer, Nabbot Uushona is alleged to have awarded IT related tenders to companies he used at his previous job as the IT Director of the University of Namibia. One of the companies is alleged to have been awarded a contract worth N$3 million to develop a system for the fund. That system, now installed, remains nonfunctional.
In another case, the fund is alleged to have paid out millions to consultants brought in at the alleged recommendation of Immanuel Fillemom Wise, the Company Secretary to carryout investigations against the former Chief Executive Officer, Hilya Nghiwete.
The NSFAF is also allegedly prematurely terminated the debt collecting services of Profile Investment, a move which is said to have negatively impacted on its recovery of funds owed by formerly funded students.
The minister’s response comes as the NSFAF’s Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs, Olavi Hamwele had ruled out any investigation being carried out by the fund’s management regarding the allegations raised.
“The allegations lack substance and thus NSFAF shall not institute an investigation in this regard. NSFAF however wholeheartedly welcomes any of the institutions that are urged to investigate to do so,” he said.
Quizzed if Chief Information Officer had previously worked with the companies awarded tenders at the Fund in his previous employment, Hamwele said, “No comment at this juncture.”
Hamwele was mum on further questions posed by the Windhoek Observer, including the finalizing of the former CEO’s hearing and on the number of disciplinary hearings that the fund has held against its staff.
“NSFAF wishes not to discuss staff matters in public.”
He, however, said the fund had only managed to recover N$3.6 million in the past financial year from over N$2.8 billion owed in loan repayments from past beneficiaries.
The problems at NSFAF come as government is planning its restructuring, a move which may see it reverting back as a department in the Ministry as part of measures to improve its operational efficiencies.
NSFAF was formed in 1995 as a government-funded student bursary and loan scheme to help pay for the cost of tertiary education.