LISTEN | NSFAS CEO asked to motivate why he should be allowed to keep his job
The board of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) wrote to the CEO, Andile Nongogo, on Tuesday to grant him an opportunity to indicate why his contract should not be terminated.
This follows the release of a damning report by law firm Werksmans Attorneys and advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi on Wednesday, who were tasked to conduct an investigation into allegations of irregularities involving a tender awarded to four companies to pay allowances to students.
Board chair Ernest Khosa said they will advise the four companies, eZaga Holdings, Coinvest Africa, Norraco Holdings and Tenet Technology, that their contracts will be terminated.
“The board will ensure that this termination does not affect the students negatively.”
He said they will also be reviewing the supply chain management policy in line with National Treasury regulations and policies.
Khosa said they met higher education minister Blade Nzimande on Tuesday to brief him on the outcomes of the investigations.
He said no feasibility study was conducted before the implementation of the direct payment system, “particularly the justification of the appointment of the four service providers”.
“There was no reason furnished to the investigators why the feasibility study was not conducted, which is a critical part of the preparation for the implementation of the project.”
He said such an assessment would have enabled NSFAS to make an informed decision on the proposed solution and to evaluate the practicability and chances of success of the proposed direct payment solution.
According to the investigation report, there was an amendment to the bid specification to include fintech companies, which resulted in drastic changes in the mandatory requirements of the original bid.
He said the report established that Nongogo actively participated in the presentation to the bid evaluation committee (BEC) of the proposals by the service providers.
“This is a material violation of public procurement processes of NSFAS which he was employed to safeguard and uphold.”
In August the Sunday Times revealed, through audio recordings of the presentations by the different bidders, how Nongogo attended and participated in them.
At the time NSFAS insisted to the publication that the process was independent, with Nongogo playing no part in deciding who was evaluated and having “no hand” in awarding the contract.
Meanwhile, the investigators’ report also revealed that “there seems to have been a conflict of interest in the appointment of these four fintech service providers”.
Nongogo appointed a Dr Chirwa to assist the bid evaluation committee as a technical adviser.
“This appointment was inherently incorrect as the 2021 SCM policy does not provide for the appointment of an expert to the bid evaluation committee.”
“What is noteworthy is Dr Chirwa’s association with certain companies that were appointed as service providers, both at the services Seta and at NSFAS. The companies are eZaga Holdings, in which eZaga Remit is a subsidiary, Africawide Consulting and Africawide Foundation.”
Khosa said that according to the report, “there is a possible relationship between Mr Nongogo and Coinvest and eZaga Holdings”.
“Another concern raised in the report is not conducting a thorough due diligence of the service providers.”
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