NSFAF to pay two CEOs

NSFAF has paid its alienated CEO N$2.2 million in compensation as ordered by the labour commissioner and will re-institute her N$160 000 per month salary this month.

01 September 2021 | Labour

OGONE TLHAGE







WINDHOEK

The Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) is set to start paying its suspended CEO Hilya Nghiwete her N$160 000 monthly salary from the end of September – but will not allow her to return to work pending an appeal against her reinstatement.

Nghiwete was scheduled to report for duty today as per a labour commissioner’s directive that NSFAF reinstate her by 1 September.

Nghiwete, who earned N$2 million annually, or just above N$160 000 per month, was dismissed in February 2020 after a drawn-out battle.

She was fired after being on suspension with full pay for 21 months, with her lawyer Sisa Namandje saying at the time that the fund would “pay dearly” for firing his client without a hearing.

In July, an arbitration hearing at the Office of the Labour Commissioner found that she was unfairly dismissed and ordered that she be paid N$2.2 million in income lost during her dismissal period and that she be reinstated at work this month.

Namibian Sun understands that NSFAF has appealed the decision and will not reinstate Nghiwete until the appeal is ruled on.

This means the fund will pay both Nghiwete and acting CEO Kennedy Kandume’s salaries for now.

NSFAF spokesperson Olavi Hamwele declined to comment on the developments, saying it was sub-judice.

Higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi also remained tight-lipped about the matter, instead referring questions to NSFAF board chairperson, Klemens /Awareb, who echoed her silence, only elaborating to say that the matter is before the courts.

No explanation

The labour commissioner found that Nghiwete was dismissed without a hearing. NSFAF defended its decision, saying Nghiwete, who was initially placed on suspension in April 2018 for alleged maladministration, had used every trick in the book to avoid appearing before a disciplinary hearing on several occasions.

The NSFAF management reasoned that they did not see a need to charge Nghiwete nor afford her an opportunity as she had already frustrated the process, and due process would not have made a difference.

Originally, Nghiwete was suspended in 2018 over allegations that, according to NSFAF, bordered on maladministration and/or administrative corruption, amongst other misconduct, which upon preliminary review by the board presented prima facie reasons justifying that in the interest of the institution and the public at large, certain disciplinary actions be considered against her.

The suspended CEO had also come under fire for the fund’s inability to report money it had loaned out to students. A parliamentary standing committee had questioned how differences between the NSFAF's general ledger and other financial statements for the financial years ended 31 March 2009 - amounting to N$342 027 473 – and for 2010, amounting to N$373 462 174.

Nghiwete could, however, not explain the inconsistencies and informed the committee that the fund was administered by the education ministry, as it was a directorate in that ministry at the time.

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