Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, has refuted what he deems as baseless and inaccurate accusations regarding the allocation of a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) tender to a colleague.

The rebuttal comes in response to a Netwerk24 report asserting that Nzimande granted a R44 million NSFAS tender to his advisor, Tilson Manyoni. In an official statement, Nzimande dismissed the claims, labeling them as “false and ill-informed suggestions” aimed at tarnishing his reputation.

Nzimande clarified that Manyoni was never employed as his advisor, emphasizing that the advisors’ names are public record and easily accessible. He also pointed out that, in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury Regulations, ministers are deliberately excluded from the procurement process to uphold its integrity.

Addressing the continuous efforts to besmirch his name, Nzimande asserted that these allegations were part of an ongoing campaign to distract the department from ensuring a smooth start to the 2024 academic year.

The minister emphasized that he played no role in awarding the NSFAS tender to Manyoni or any other individual or company. As the executive authority, he directed queries about NSFAS procurement processes to the scheme’s Chief Executive Officer or Board.

Nzimande reaffirmed his commitment to facilitating a seamless commencement of the 2024 academic year, urging fairness in assessing procurement matters related to entities that have their own accounting officers, executives, and boards.

In response to the controversy, NSFAS stated that Manyoni’s tender was legitimate, meeting all necessary requirements. Additionally, it confirmed that Manyoni was not listed as a government employee, and his company did not declare any conflict of interest during the bidding process.

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