By: Ayanda Mdluli
A union called the Academic and Professional Staff Association (APSA) which is affiliated to the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has released damning allegations implicating SACP general secretary and former higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande in a series of dodgy deals with institutions and industry bodies that were affiliated to his department.
Nzimande is currently serving as the minister of transport in president Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet.
The union, which consists of academics and professionals from various institutions of higher learning across SA, alleges that Nzimande’s SACP received irregular payments from the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS).
According to Professor Boitumelo Senokoane, the general secretary of APSA, Mandla Radebe, who is the deputy chairperson of the SACP in Gauteng, is the husband of Professor Sarah Mosoetsa, who also serves as the CEO of the NIHSS.
Mosoetsa is alleged to have made a payment of R300 000 to the Mzala Nxumalo Centre for the Study of South African Society. The Mzala Nxumalo Centre is a non-profit organisation that is administered by the SACP.
In a briefing yesterday union leaders stated: “The NIHSS donated R300 000 to the Mzala Nxumalo Centre. However, as NIHSS is a public entity as it receives funding from tax payers’ money, particularly the national skills funds that are audited by the office of the Auditor General of South Africa, both the NIHSS and Mzala Nxumalo Centre have a ‘Blade’ in-between.”
Mosoetsa is also a board member of Mzala Nxumalo Centre which received a R300 000 payment from NIHSS.
According to Senokoane, Mosoetsa is no stranger to controversy and is said to be unorthodox in how she handles finances art h NIHSS.
“This year, she authorised a payment beyond R1 million against the policy that restricts her to less than a million rand. The term of the board had lapsed and in the absence of one she became one. She is accountable to no one but herself. Also, when members of parliament in Cape Town asked her a specific question in parliament about BRICS trips or transportation expenditure she deliberately lied about the amount paid,” he said.
In addition, Mosoetsa is accused of disregarding normal procurement processes for three quotations. APSA says she lied that NIHSS is neither a department or a constitutional institution nor a public entity which is accountable to the Public Finance Management Act.
“This raises questions around state owned entities and delegation of authority. Who is the CEO accountable to? This also raises questions around supply chain processes, because the question raised in parliament revealed a poor state of management in the institution,” explained Senokoane.
Members of the boards of both NIHSS and Mzala Nxumalo are said to be populated by individuals and cronies who are linked and fiercely loyal to Nzimande.
One of the members of the board at Mzala Nxumalo, John Pampallis, was the special advisor to Blade Nzimande as the former Minister of Higher Education and Training. His wife, Karen is alleged by APSA to have benefited from a research grant in 2014 and received an additional R1 million this year for another grant issued in 2017.
“NIHSS was established to advance and coordinate scholarship, research and ethical practice in the Humanities and Social Science, which have been underfunded and under recognised to the disadvantage of the South African society as a whole,” said Senokoane.
This is a developing story and Africa News 24-7 is trying to reach Mosoetsa for her response to the accusations made public by the union APSA.