Dear Mr President

Allegations of political interference by Minister Nzimande in CHIETA CEO appointment

1. I have previously raised with you the alleged 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 that department’s administration and also in the management of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

2. Yesterday, the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) announced the appointment of Mr Yershen Pillay as its Chief Executive Officer.

3. Mr Pillay is a former Young Communist League chairperson and, according to our source, is a personal confidant of Minister Nzimande. In fact, in the communication to staff, announcing Mr Pillay’s appointment, Ms Wezi Khoza (Chairperson of the CHIETA Accounting Authority) flaunted that he works in the Minister’s office as Director Stakeholder Management.

4. To provide further information and context, I remind you of my 10 September 2020-letter (see paragraph 5) regarding the Minister’s reward scheme for party cronies, where his direct involvement is alleged in the creation of five DHET posts for which no logic or justification were provided in terms of the Public Service Regulations. Allegedly, these posts were not advertised; nor was there an appointment committee; nor were competency assessments conducted and no vetting or checking of qualifications were undertaken.

5. Mr Pillay was one of those lucky communists and received a whopping salary of just over R88,000 per month in the 2019/20 financial year. So, whilst business at the DHET is run like the Wild Wild West, Mr Pillay has been rewarded a second time, this time with a SETA CEO-ship.

6. Seen against the backdrop of the past allegations made around Dr Nzimande’s seeming empire building, Mr Pillay’s appointment is clearly another block in that structure, and one wonders at the goal.

7. Actions speak louder than words and no matter what Minister Nzimande says, he does not appear to be building a robust, merit-based higher education management system that works in service of South Africa for the long-term.

8. With due respect Sir, the lack of response from your office to the various matters I have raised relating to Minister Nzimande resembles ostrich politics. I therefore hope that you will break your silence on this topic with a definitive stance.

9. The United Democratic Movement will however in the meantime and in good faith persist in raising issues of national importance with you, in line with your cause to rid government of corruption.

Yours sincerely
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement