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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Pressure Mounts for NSFAS Administrator To Resign Amid ‘Jobs-For-Pals’ Scandal


THE National Student Financial Scheme (NSFAS) administrator Randall Carolissen is under mounting to pressure to resign amid allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has now joined the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) in calling for the resignation Carolissen, accusing him of mismanaging the NSFAS, a R35 billion state-funded loan programme for tertiary students who can’t afford fees.

Carolissen stands accused of hiring friends and acquaintances without following proper processes. 

Carolissen recently admitted he had forwarded some CVs to NSFAS’s human resources department but denied that he was directly involved in the appointment processes that followed.

Nehawu told Parliament recently that under Carolissen’s leadership at NSFAS, several issues were experienced, including the issuing of an irregular R3.75 billion laptop tender, which has since been cancelled.

Nehawu also told MPs that under Carolissen’s leadership at NSFAS, several issues have been experienced, including the issuing of an irregular R3.75 billion laptop tender, which has since been cancelled.

The EFF turned the pressure on Monday, saying that Carolissen has turned NSFAS into a ‘Mafia’ operation, enriching people close to him while intimidating stuff and subjecting them into a hostile working environment.

“We demand the immediate resignation of Randall Carolissen for crippling an entity that is the custodian of the developmental prospects of South Africa in terms of higher education,” the party said in a statement on Sunday.

On Saturday, the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology took a unanimous decision during its meeting held Friday to conduct an oversight Inquiry into the administration and management of the NSFAS.

This was after the committee held a follow-up meeting with Carolissen regarding allegations of maladministration and corruption that were brought to the committee by Nehawu.

The committee also received testimonies under oath from senior employees of NSFAS.

The committee said it was shocked by what appeared to be a complete disregard for normal recruitment policies and procedures guiding the recruitment of staff at NSFAS.

The committee said it was informed by NSFAS employees who appeared before it that the Administrator facilitated the employment of his friends and acquaintances at the entity without following due process.

The Administrator admitted that he did pass the CVs (curricula vitae) of some of the implicated persons over to Human Resources, who were later appointed, but denied that he was responsible for their appointment.

Of the long list of irregular appointments, nine of the people alleged to have been appointed irregularly were the Administrator’s former schoolmate, former university mate, a friend of the Administrator’s brother, the daughter of the Administrator’s friend, a friend of the wife of the Administrator, and a nephew of the Administrator’s friend.

“Of grave concern to the committee was the admission by the Administrator that he passed on the CVs of some of the persons to Human Resources,” portfolio committee chairperson Philly Mapulane.

 “We do take note of the denial by the Administrator that he was not personally involved in the appointment of some of his acquaintances and friends, however, when you pass on the CV as the Administrator to your subordinate, the subliminal message to the person receiving the CV is that you must appoint this person.”

He added: “You may not have said it in your own words, but the message is loud and clear to your subordinate receiving a CV from you of what your intention is. Ultimately it is the Administrator who is finally the authority responsible for the employment of staff at the agency.”

The committee further resolved that allegations received in the past regarding alleged irregularities in the procurement of laptops by NSFAS as part of saving the 2020 academic year, will be interrogated as part of this oversight inquiry.

Employees further testified to other issues of alleged maladministration at NSFAS, which the committee will look at.

The committee condemned the alleged action of attempting to charge an employee for appearing before the committee of Parliament.

“We wish to remind NSFAS that witnesses appearing before Parliament are protected in terms of section 16 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 2004. Anybody who attempts to subvert the oversight work of Parliament by intimidating witnesses invited by it will not be left unattended,” said Mapulane.


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