The Namibia Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) management failed to show up for a hearing organised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts this week,
amid suspicion that the institution is using delaying tactics because it cannot account for close to N$1.8 billion it disbursed between 2008 and 2013.
The State-owned institution, which was created to disburse funds to needy tertiary students, has been embroiled in controversies over claims of corruption and financial mismanagement.
The parliamentary committee was shocked on Thursday when the NSFAF management team that was supposed to answer questions on the financial situation at the fund, snubbed the public hearing.
NSFAF only delivered a letter by hand on the day of the hearing asking for a postponement.
Management at the student funding institution has on two previous occasions asked for a postponement, pleading that they needed to first consult with the Auditor General’s office and their auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, in order to answer the parliamentary committee’s questions accurately.
This time, the institution asked for a postponement in order to substantiate what comprised the N$1.79 billion loan or grant that was allegedly issued.
In the letter to the parliamentary committee, NSFAF stated that it has over 46,000 files to go through, thus they will need until March 2018, to fully comply.
Chairperson of the standing committee, Mike Kavekotora, expressed his dismay at the NSFAF’s management’s absence, saying it was not justifiable.
Kavekotora said the excuse by NSFAF was not new, as the institution had asked for a postponement twice already, stating the same reasons.
“There seems to be an attitude from NSFAF that is not to my liking. In the first public hearing years ago, the institution said it was busy reconstructing student records that would show the unaccounted funds.
“One and a half years later after that commitment, they are coming up with unacceptable excuses again. This is a total disregard and an arrogant attitude from their side. We are not prepared to be humiliated by a body that needs to be accountable. The nation is crying because we do not know how much money was used in fraudulent exercises,” Kavekotora said.
The committee resolved to subpoena the NSFAF management team for a hearing sometime in February next year, since Parliament has already closed for business this year.
“The issues raised in the current letter are issues that were known to them already. The fact that they sent a letter last minute is unacceptable and we will not take this lightly,” Kavekotora said.
This comes at a time when both the management and NSFAF board are at loggerheads, with some directors, whose terms expire at the end of December, pushing for the suspension of the Chief Executive Officer Hilya Nghiwete due to a “loss of trust”.
This week, board members were reported to have threatened to resign if Nghiwete is not suspended.