The new Namibia Student Financial Aid Fund(NSFAF) board has a tough task ahead of them, one primarily premised on turning around the funding operations of the entity which has struggled to fulfil its mandate.
This is all but certainly NSFAF’s last-ever board, seeing that plans to repatriate the funding entity into the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation has been set into motion.
The previous board has come under scathing criticism during its term for running the company into the ground and for leading a poorly governed board.
Kandjii-Murangi, apart from expecting a sound working relationship between the board and management, expects the new board to provide clear effective guidance and leadership to the affairs of NSFAF; take correct and decisive actions to improve NSFAF’s governance, service delivery and to restore the trust of students, parents, staff and public trust in the fund.
She also wants them to look at relevant processes that are needed to expedite the transformation of NSFAF as well as to ensure that the transformative processes at NSFAF do not negatively affect service delivery.
The new board consists of Jerome Mutumba(chair), Dr. Christina Swart-Opperman(deputy chair), Stephen Tjiuoro, Dr. Isak Neema, Adda Angula, Natascha Cheikhyoussef, Ananias Abner and Tulimeke Munyika.
Surprisingly, there is no one from any of the country’s student movements to represent the students.
Another interesting factor is the fact that, for the first time on an SOE board, there are two members who hail from one SOE.
Mutumba and Angula both work for the Development Bank of Namibia as senior communications manager and company secretary respectively.
Mutumba was nominated by minister Dr. Itah Kandjii-Murangi as one of the four persons, who in her opinion has high moral standing and special knowledge, skills or expertise in matters relating to the functions of the board.
In her defence, the minister said Angula was nominated by the Law Society, hence the double DBN representation on the board.
The minister urged the board to render processes that will transform the institution as well as cut wastage and resource leakages.
She also urged the board to ensure that resources are channelled towards student funding in order to ensure that the country has skilled people to drive the country’s growth.
The previous board and the NSFAF CEO Hilya Nghiwete did not sit around one fire, a situation which many claim is the main reason why the institution is faced with an avalanche of challenges on the operational front.
Nghiwete was also present at this week’s board unveiling, but she had the vacate the room later on to allow the minister to have a private meeting with the board. Nghiwete has been under constant criticism and many have blamed her for the turmoil playing out at the institution. She however maintains that without the relevant support, there is little she can do to deliver on the mandate of the entity.
When asked what she has done to ensure that the board and management has a sound working relationship, Kandjii-Murangi downplayed the extent of the problem.
“Asking about that relationship at this point in time is a bit presumptuous. These are people, in our view who bring a lot to the table. This board brings the needed expertise to drive the company forward,” she said.
She added: “In as much as they are walking into an institution that was dogged by negativity, I believe the kind of experience they bring will resolve some of those challenges. The board will also go through an induction to map out the way forward.”
She said it is important that board members understand their fiduciary responsibilities.
Since government started the process of repatriating NSFAF to the ministry, the board’s term is not fixed and is therefore effective until the move is concluded. The previous board served for three years.
Kandjii-Murangi did not indicate what would happen to the current board if the process to return NSFAF to the ministry takes longer than three years.