The National Education and Health Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has said that Randall Carolissen being appointed as the Administrator of NSFAS hasn’t solved any issues. The Union also alleged that the management of NSFAS is not being done efficiently during a presentation to the parliamentary portfolio committee.
Nehawu provincial secretary Eric Kweleta said, “We thought the appointment of the new administration would be a Panado to our headache. We’ve seen foreign tendencies in this institution, a replica of the rogue unit was duplicated in this institution. It doesn’t have policies; you have a principal that does as he pleases”.
They are also questioning the relationship between Carolissen and the Minister in charge of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, saying, “Minister Blade Nzimande extended the term of the administration for four months from September to December 2020. This was done silently, without the Government Gazette or consultation with stakeholders” and that Nzimande did not consult with them, Sasco or other important stakeholders either.
The Union has said that Randall’s appointment brought damage to the fiscus in terms of the lack of funds in Government and that correct recruitment processes were not followed.
“The extension of all advisers amounts to fruitless and wasteful expenditure as they all earn around R2m a year each. In addition to salaries, each adviser receives a package which includes unlimited flights home (similar to MPs), month-to-month car rentals, airport shuttles and V&A luxury apartments,” said Kweleta.
The Administrator responded and denied these claims saying, “We want to put it out there that we don’t agree with these allegations. We will co-operate with any legitimate process regarding these allegations. Some of the statements are factually incorrect”.
Carolissen said that they are taking Nehawu’s allegations seriously and find them to be offensive and baseless.
“I reject allegations of a corrupt relationship between me and the minister. I am acquainted with people in the sector – I have worked with many people in my career,” said the NSFAS Administrator.
He also made it clear that yes, he had given positions to people he previously worked with or taught but that proper procedures were always followed.
On how NSFAS operates, Nehawu commented, “There are glitches in the system. When the students apply, the system cannot confirm their application. Human intervention is needed”.
They also brought up an issue with NSFAS’ procedures of validating information of beneficiaries and prospective beneficiaries through SASSA and Home Affairs saying that this has lead to the financial aid scheme providing funding to the deceased, government officials and students above the threshold. They explained that, “This creates confusion and disadvantages students who should be funded. NSFAS does not have a reliable source to verify incomes of applicants.”
“There is no stable platform for applications at NSFAS. A student applies for funding but the application gets withdrawn without anyone touching the system. About 20,000 students were affected by the hand of God during 2019 application cycle. This means if the application is withdrawn, it cannot be processed any further,” said the Union.
Nehawu also pointed to instances where applications are withdrawn after the student is funded leading to the students not being able to register their studies.
The Union is now demanding that NSFAS fires the Administraton citing that the extension of his contract was irregular and unlawful.
They are also calling for an independent forensic investigation to take place, the suspension of certain members, dissolution of disciplinary hearings as well as pausing any recruitment processes.
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé