Nghiwete suspended pending probe

Though the charges have not been formalised yet, the NSFAF CEO is accused of maladministration or administrative corruption.

17 April 2018 | Government

The CEO and head of the secretariat of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), Hilya Nghiwete, has been suspended with immediate effect by the new board under the chairpersonship of Jerome Mutumba.

The suspension was announced yesterday and Nghiwete was reportedly told at a board meeting.

Mutumba said the board would formalise charges against Nghiwete within 14 days after a “targeted investigation” was completed. He would not be drawn into any further comment at this stage.

According to the NSFAF announcement, the suspension was on account of “serious allegations” that had come to the attention of the board.

“The concerned allegations border on the centrality of maladministration and/or administrative corruption, amongst other misconducts, which upon preliminary review by the board presented prima facie reasons justifying, that in the interest of the institution and public at large, certain disciplinary actions be considered against her,” Mutumba said in his announcement.

He said having considered the seriousness of the allegations, the seniority of Nghiwete's position and in keeping with the board's fiduciary duties, board members at special meeting on 9 April made the decision to suspend her.

Nghiwete will receive her full salary during the suspension period but the board made it clear that she was for the duration stripped of all her powers and duties at the NSFAF.

“The effect of this is essentially that the suspended CEO shall refrain from acting or posturing to act in any way that creates the impression that she remains an agent of NSFAF,” the statement reads.

It states that any member of the public, natural or juristic, should in the period not enter into any transaction with Nghiwete in her capacity as the head of NSFAF.

Mutumba said the suspension would not have an impact on service delivery.

NSFAF senior manager Kennedy Kandume is acting as the CEO in the interim.

Nghiwete could not be reached for comment.

Mutumba said no other staff member of NSFAF was being suspended or investigated.

He said Kandume was selected to act because he was a long-standing employee of NSFAF and had served as an executive member of the institution for four years before the “second generation” of executive members.

NSFAF has been in the news for a while, and for all the wrong reasons. After failing to appear before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts last year, its management and board did make an eventual appearance in early March during which it was grilled over an unaccounted N$1.7 billion that had been disbursed in student loans.





At the hearing the NSFAF claimed that it could account for N$1.5 billion in disbursed funds and that it had commissioned a joint venture arrangement between Namibian company Tribesmen and South African-based New Integrated Credit Solutions (NICS) to recover monies not repaid yet.



Parastatal status

The government is still contemplating plans to return NSFAFto the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation.

This announcement was first made by higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi during last year's final media briefing hosted by the presidency.

Kandjii-Murangi was quoted saying that although the institution had yielded some benefits, its existence had become questionable.

“The negative publicity in the last few months called for introspection on how we needed to function better and it eventually came out that it is better to revert to the ministry,” she said at the time.

The situation at the institution has become so dire that in 2016 the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Ministry of Public Enterprises were prompted to investigate its procurement procedures.

NSFAF was established in January 1997 to provide financial assistance to students at approved institutions of higher education.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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