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Come again when you have your ducks in a row: education department sent packing

Come again when you have your ducks in a row: education department sent packing

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Cape Town: THE Higher Education and Training Department was sent packing on Wednesday by a portfolio committee when it could not present two reports related to the National Skills Fund (NSF).

The department was meant to brief the higher education and training portfolio committee on the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on the review of the NSF, forensic investigation, implementation of the NSF audit action plan and funding of the post-school education and training.

MPs serving on the higher education and training portfolio committee heard that Minister Blade Nzimande tendered his apology because he was attending a cabinet meeting.

“It came to our attention yesterday morning that the ministry would not be able to present the MMT report on student funding, as well as the forensic investigation report,” committee chairperson Nompendulo Mkhatshwa said.

The department appointed a MTT on student funding in September last year and Nzimande was to have received the forensic report in June.

It has missed scheduled sessions to make presentations to both the portfolio committee and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) over the past few months.

Deputy Minister Buti Manamela said Nzimande requested indulgence on the MTT report on student funding and forensic report that were to be presented.

Manamela said the cabinet still had to conclude its processes on the report on student funding before it was released for public engagement.

“It is on the basis of delays occasioned by the processes in cabinet that we are making this request so that the report is not tabled today but hopefully in the next two months or so,” he said.

Manamela also said Nzimande has sought legal advice on the handling of the forensic investigation as it related to the rights of individuals mentioned in the report before it was released.

“The intention is not to tamper with the substance (of the report), but to understand implications if the report is made public. We also hope this process will be finalised as soon as possible so that this report is made public.”

He noted that it was not only the higher education and training portfolio committee that wanted the forensic report, but Scopa as well.

“We want to make a firm commitment to this committee that we will try to finalise both reports so that they are made for public engagement, therefore, we want to request the portfolio committee to accept the minister’s apology and request that the tabling of these reports be postponed,” Manamela added.

Mkhatshwa said that they were concerned with the delays in presenting the reports, especially the one on student funding.

“There should be a mechanism to ensure that such reports are presented on time. It would be important to get in writing steps how the report is most likely to be approved,” she said.

DA MP Chantel King said it was concerning that they did not have the report on student funding.

“I do understand that they want to give a report that is properly finalised for us to give input,” King said.

She was concerned that they were asked to consider the implementation of NSF’s audit plan of action when they had not seen the actual forensic report.

“That looks like a waste of time. I would have liked to have gone through it and to ask sufficient questions,” King added.

After inputs were made by other committee members, a decision was taken to discontinue with the meeting.

The department was ordered to submit the actual report on student funding immediately and to make a presentation in November after cabinet has completed its processes.

It was also ordered to submit the forensic report by September 27 and to make a presentation in the first week of Parliament's last term of the year, which starts on October 11.

Cape Times

Original Article

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