• September 24th, 2020

NSFAF staff suspended over N$2 million fraud

Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) has placed some staff members on suspension for various reasons.
These include defrauding the institution of sums ranging between N$500 000 to N$2.9 million in a suspected fraud committed between January 2016 and December 2019. 

New Era has established two employees were suspended between July and at the beginning of this month. Allegations forming the basis of the latest suspensions include gross insubordination, conflict of interest and fraud. 
Another employee is also under investigation for gross transgressions but remains at work.

Hilya Nghiwete, who has been the CEO of NSFAF since 2013, was suspended in April 2018 and ultimately dismissed this year in February over allegations of corruption, pending ongoing investigations.
NSFAF carried out internal investigations and it roped in the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). 
These findings come after a letter authored by NSFAF concerned staff members outlining allegations ranging from corruption, wasting financial resources and staff victimisation. 

They particularly pointed out NSFAF acting CEO Kennedy Kandume, and his management for alleged mismanagement, staff victimisation and alleged corruption at the institution.
The letter is addressed to higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi, ACC Director-General Paulus Noa and the Central Procurement Board of Namibia chairperson Patrick Swartz.

Contacted for comment, NSFAF Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Olavi Hamwele yesterday confirmed the suspensions.  “Since inception (1 May 2013) to date, NSFAF has suspended three of its employees in the face of serious allegations of misconducts. The first of these was in 2018 and the rest were between July and August 2020. All suspensions and subsequent investigations (completed or ongoing) were done in accordance with the Company’s Employee Relations Policy and in the best interest of NSFAF and that of the public,” Hamwele said.

He added NSFAF is inundated with queries about an anonymous letter circulating on social media alleging corruption, wasting of resources and staff victimisation at NSFAF. 
NSFAF informed the public the allegations contained in the anonymous letter are not only malicious and vindictive against anti-corruption figures in the institution, but are also devoid of any truth. 

“Therefore, the content of the anonymous letter must be seen in the context of the author(s), attempting to posture as a victim(s), before information about his or her or their deeds at NSFAF becomes a subject of public scrutiny in the fullness of time. Further, it must be viewed as an attack to NSFAF ‘s management and or board in its or their decisive and intolerant approaches toward unethical conducts at the institution,” Hamwele refuted the allegations doing the rounds. Equally, he said NSFAF wishes to assure the public that its doors are open to ACC and or other institutions statutorily mandated to ensure public accountability to investigate allegations of any nature falling within its or their mandate(s). 

The letter reads that the corruption, wasteful spending of financial resources and victimisation of staff at NSFAF started since 2015 when the current minister took office. The authors accused her leadership as being based on who is close to her and does not give other people opportunities to be heard. 

They claim to date, NSFAF has had more than seven consultants appointed on the advice of the funds’ company secretary, Fillemon Immanuel Wise against the previous regime and none of those investigations produced any evidence of money stolen or corruption other than indicating that there seems to be a problem of people not respecting the authority of the previous regime. 
“NSFAF lost close to N$5 million on the various investigations and hearing of the previous regime. And as we speak that case is not yet finalised and NSFAF continues to spend money to defend the Wise and Kennedy [acting CEO] charges against the former CEO [Hilya Nghiwete] just because Mr Fillemon - Wise Immanuel wanted to be NSFAF CEO and has worked with the current minister at Unam and managed to mislead the previous board and current board including instigating all managers to do a group grievance against the previous CEO,” the letter charged. 

The authors alleged this month, NSFAF has commenced another series of investigations, against senior staffs in the finance department, which they view as another round of wasting government resources. 
The letter reads that Kandume is victimising the two female colleagues at the finance department because they know much about the alleged corruption against him and others.

The corruption they are referring to relates to the contracted two IT companies; namely Interactive and Neishot Websolution Technologies.
“These cannot be a mere coincidence that these companies were contracted at Unam to do their failed system and mess up students’ records when Mr Nabot Uushona [NSFAF chief information officer] was the IT director at Unam and now that he is at NSFAF. The two same companies followed him and they are now contracted at NSFAF under dubious ways. Interactive is given a tender worth N$3 million to develop the system and up to now, the system is not functional. Neishot was brought in to do some small works and now they have been given more work. As we speak, Unam has replaced the Interactive system that was brought by Mr Nabot Uushona and Unam is flabbergasted why NSFAF contracted Interactive and did not do any reference check,” the letter reads in part. They claim some procurement rules like bid security was overlooked and later Interactive was paid by NSFAF as cash injection.

The concerned staff members demand the Central Procurement Board investigates the contracting of Interactive and Neishot Websolution Technologies particularly if interactive comply with all procurement procedures at the time of contracting and whether the payment made to them was supposed to be made or they are supposed to get their own resources to start the contract. 

Albertina Nakale
2020-08-11 09:22:24 | 1 months ago

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