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Sunday 22 September 2019
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Education war brewing

Education1

  • Plan to collapse some SOEs
  • Politics at play
  • Some CEOs targeted

An education storm is brewing in the higher education ministry due to plans to strip powers of some of the parastatals falling under the ministry, and if need be, shut down some of them.

Minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi faces criticism over her decision to consider reintegrating or even collapsing some of the parastatals under her ministry.

Sources say Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), Namibia Training Authority and part of the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology in the ministry are earmarked to undergo an avalanche of changes. This move comes just a few years after Cabinet endorsed that these entities be operated independently.

However Kandjii-Murangi feels some of the parastatals have too much power, The Patriot can reveal.

“It does not take a keen eye to realise that some of these entities have usurped the core functions of the parent Ministry. Therefore, there is an urgent need to discuss, align and harmonise the core functions of these SOEs,” she said in a letter dated 9 March 2016 sent to parastatals under the ministry’s control.

The minister is currently spearheading an ongoing campaign to review the enabling Acts of SOEs under her ministry. According to the letter, signed by the minister, the review is aimed at defining an appropriate working relationship between the ministry and parastatals under its armpit.

It also seeks to strengthen weak provisions of the different Acts to make them enforceable as well as to align provisions in the establishing Acts to the Public Enterprises Act and other laws.

It also seeks to do away with overlaps between entities, determining the correctness of the juristic person status versus advisory body status of each SOE and proposing amendments as necessary.

“Collapsing and integrating any SOE into the MHETI where this is deemed appropriate,” reads Kandjii

-Murangi’s letter.

Senior officials within the ministry however deny that the review is meant to reintegrate the listed entities.

Permanent Secretary Dr. Alfred van Kent said there was no decision made regarding the reintegration of SOEs into the ministry, saying the review process is still at the consultation stage.

He said the review is also part of the restructuring drive of the ministry. The higher education ministry was established last year at the start of the Hage Geingob-led administration.

“We need to look at the issues at hand because some of the Acts we are using were drafted way back. The reintegration issue is not a definite one,” he said.

The PS, however, indicated that should the need arise during consultations to reintegrate any of the public enterprises, it will be done.

He also refuted claims that there are plans to strip the Innovation arm of the NCRST.

Ministerial sources say plans to strip the research commission of some its powers and the reintegration of NSFAF is a ploy to frustrate the two CEO’s of the entities, Hilya Nghiwete (NSFAF) and Dr. Eino Mvula (NCRST) respectively.

Van Kent stands accused of leading crusade to frustrate Mvula because he was beaten to the job by Mvula a few years back. The PS laughed off these allegations during an interview with this newspaper.

“He served as the director for Research, Science and Technology in the ministry. Because of that he thought he would automatically get the CEO position when NCRST was established, but sadly for him Dr. Mvula got the position. This is why you are seeing these acts of intimidation going on,” said another source who is privy to the appointment of the incumbent NCRST boss.

“No no no….You have it all wrong, there is no such thing,” the PS insisted.

Sources also say plans are to place the student fund under the wings of the finance ministry.

“The reason why NSFAF is failing to recover old debts from students is because of poor record keeping mechanisms and management while it was part of the education ministry, do we really want to go back to the same situation,” said the source who cannot be named in fear of          victimisation.

According to the source: “It is better if the fund is moved to treasury because in this way the funds will be better managed instead of the current system where money is paid in bulk to universities which makes it hard to account.”

The source also indicated that tracking beneficiaries will be easier if the fund is under the finance ministry because it will be able to access the income tax records of those that work.

Currently, the Income Tax Act does not permit funds to be transferred to third parties.

There are also unconfirmed claims that the ministry placed a moratorium on the appointment of a CEO at NTA because of the plan to move the parastatals’ operations into the higher education ministry, but this claim is contrary to a newspaper advertisement by NTA earlier this week calling for interested candidates to apply for the CEO position. Jerry Beukes is currently serving as acting CEO.

“All proposed and agreed amendments for each Act will form a wsorking Draft Amendment Document, a document will be submitted to the Attorney General’s Office for further scrutiny, advice and infusion of the legal language,” said Kandjii-Murangi in the letter.

She further indicated that: “If any further stakeholder consultations are required, this process will be instituted after these consultations,” said Kandjii-Murangi in the letter in which Attorney General Sakeus Shanghala, Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila were copied into.

 




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