Has Nghiwete reached the end of the road at NSFAF?

The heat has finally caught up with under-fire Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) boss, Hilya Nghiwete, and after a lengthy battle to have her thrown under the bus, the board has decided to suspend her with immediate effect pending outcome of an investigation process.

Nghiwete’s problems started attracting the attention of the line minister, Itah Kandjii-Murangi, former Attorney General, Sacky Shangala and the Public Enterprises minister Leon Jooste early last year with allegations of corruption, playing dirty and making the work environment difficult for staff at the institution.

As the media feasted on NSFAF’s dirty under-wear, Kandjii-Murangi moved in to put in a new board which she hoped would “correct and (take) decisive actions to improve NSFAF’s governance, service delivery and for it to restore students’, parents’ and public trust."

Nghiwete had survived a possible looming suspension in 2017 and The Villager glimpsed into an email in which Jooste, Shangala and Kandjii-Murangi wanted the previous board together with its chief executive officer dismissed.

Managers at the institution had also exerted considerable force to have the besieged CEO kicked off the ship and issued a 14-page document dated 20 June 2016 accusing Nghiwete of various transgressions and requesting the board to act so that NSFAF can fulfil its mandate. 

“We are working in an unbearable working environment (concentration camps) where dictatorship and autocratic leadership is the order of the day. “We are indeed saddened to report that at NSFAF, we as managers are not happy to be associated with the brand that has become badly tarnished in the media due to various issues that we have experienced or witnessed and questioned ourselves at the realm of the CEO’s autocratic decision-making,” the managers revealed to Kandjii-Murangi, Jooste, the NSFAF chief human resources person Olavi Hamwele, and NSFAF company secretary, Wise Immanuel.

They mud-slung her with accusations of bad-mouthing them, creating a culture that “does not empower them, make them creative, is demotivating and breeds frustration, resentment and mistrust among the team.” 

In spite of all the forces against Nghiwete,  Shangala admitted that her dismissal would not be that easy. 

Jooste too had indicated however that he had a one on one with Nghiwete to discuss an exit package.

As the storm around her raged and spilt into the media and in parliament, Nghiwete maintained that she was a victim of board-victimisation especially at the hands of then chairperson, Patty Karauihe-Martin. 

Chairperson for the committee on public accounts, Mike Kavekotora also took the debate into parliament where he clashed with Kandjii-Murangi on the situation at NSFAF and called for the management to fall. 

He blamed it for running the fund to the ground and disputed it being allocated more funds.

While Kandjii-Murangi slammed Kavekotora for “stating untruths” and saying that “No student has been disadvantaged at NSFAF”, he shot back accusing her of “condoning mismanagement and promoting corruption.”

Kavekotora was further infuriated last year in December when the entity’s management failed to show up for a hearing organised by the parliamentary standing committee on public accounts.

This raised suspicions that they were playing delaying tactics in the light of being accused of failing to account for close to N$1.8 billion distributed between 2008 and 2013.

“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 was quoted by a weekly paper as saying. 

Yesterday, the new NSFAF board that now has the mandate to restore the entity’s soiled image at the orders of Kandjii-Murangi revealed that “serious allegations” of “administrative corruption” had come to their attention. 

Now finally chucked out NSFAF, she remains entitled to her full salary for the duration of the suspension but the question still lingering is whether this is the end of the road for Nghiwete.