DEPARTMENT OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: FURTHER ALLEGATIONS OF MINISTER NZIMANDE’S POLITICAL INTERFERENCE: APPOINTMENT OF PARTY CRONIES
1. I refer to my letters of 24 and 31 August 2020 regarding allegations of interference of the political head of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, in departmental processes and administration, as well as the undermining of the senior departmental accounting officers.
2. Minister Nzimande’s alleged direct interference in procurement processes, such as what apparently happened with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) laptop tender, clearly has disastrous consequences. This much vaunted project has flopped; everyone sits with egg on their faces and our students are left right where they started, without learning devices. NSFAS’s feeble attempt to mitigate the damage, effectively blaming a total of 150 bidders for “getting it wrong”, is almost laughable.
3. It has now come to my attention that Minister Nzimande was allegedly directly involved in twelve DHET appointments in the 2019/20 financial year that were not made in line with Public Service Regulations (PSR) and/or the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) 1 of 1999.
4. The salaries of these twelve allegedly irregularly appointed individuals cost the taxpayer around R9,7 million a year, but once you consider the allegation that the majority of them are South African Communist Party comrades of the Minister, their appointments take another flavour and one can see why the regulations were seemingly so grossly flouted.
5. It is alleged that, in March 2020, five employees additional to the DHET establishment were appointed, but that there were no logic or justification for the creation of these posts in terms of Section 57(2) of the PSR. Apparently, the posts were not even advertised. I also understand that there was no appointment committee and no competency assessments were conducted as required by Section 67(1). Lastly, there were allegedly no vetting or checking of qualifications in terms of Section 57(3). These appointments are:
6. Another alleged appointment where the Minister had a hand in, is that of a 12-month contract of a Deputy Director-General Planning, Policy and Training, whilst this post already existed in the department establishment and it was vacant. The story with this appointment is the same as with the previous five; none of the PSR prescriptions were adhered to.