Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, has disputed a Sunday newspaper report claiming he requested Parliament keep a Forensic Investigation Report on the National Skills Fund’s (NSF) under wraps.

“I never wanted to keep this report under wraps, but all that I requested was for the Standing Committee on Public Account (SCOPA) to treat this report in terms of rule 189 of the National Assembly, especially sub-rule (1) (c) read with sub rule (4) (a) until all processes before the law enforcement agencies and internal departmental disciplinary processes are concluded,” Nzimande said.

He had appointed a forensic investigation company to conduct a full-scale forensic investigation into the financial affairs of the NSF after amounts of just under R5 billion could not be properly accounted for over two financial years.

The Minister also appointed a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) to conduct a strategic review of the NSF, its general operations and its efficiency and relevance with regards to the national skills priorities of the country.

Nzimande said both these appointments were meant to ensure the NSF accounts for the resources allocated to it and deal with instances of maladministration and corruption at the NSF.

“Both the reports were submitted to me, and we have begun in earnest the process of implementing the recommendations of both these reports,” the Minister said.

The Department of Higher Education and Training also opened a case at the Pretoria Central Police Station on 3 October 2022.

“Now that a police case has been opened and legal processes are underway, all the implicated individuals inside and outside the department, including companies who might have benefited irregularly on the resources of the National Skills Funding, will face the full might of the law,” Nzimande said.

He added that the department has already commenced engaging the Hawks and other law enforcement agencies, including initiating internal departmental disciplinary processes to ensure that this process in concluded speedily.

“This is the reason we requested SCOPA to treat this report as confidential until these processes are finalised and the relevant people informed, in terms of due process. I however must indicate that as a department we respect the SCOPA decision not to accede to our request.

“I have nothing to hide, but I have a duty, on my part, to follow due process in implementing the recommendations of the forensic investigation. We will implement these recommendations to the letter,” Nzimande said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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