Nzimande denies wrongdoing amidst more conflict of interest claims

Nzimande maintains that he had absolutely no role in the awarding of a Nsfas tender to Manyoni.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, has once again hit back at allegations that there was a conflict of interest in the awarding of a government contract to Vision Wave, where Tilson Manyoni serves as the managing director.

According to media reports, Manyoni, the managing director at Vision Wave, also chaired the National Advisory Innovation Council when Vision Wave won the five-year government contract in 2022.

Netwerk24 reported that the dual role raised questions about a possible conflict of interest, as Manyoni was in a position to influence the decision while also being associated with the winning company.

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Appointed by Nzimande

It also noted that Manyoni was appointed by Nzimande himself, who sat as the board chairman of the Tshwane University of Technology when the contract was awarded.

In response to this, the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation laid out several reasons as to why it felt Minister Nzimande was not in the wrong.

“Firstly, Mr Manyoni is not and has never been an advisor to the Minister, as erroneously suggested by some media houses. The names of the advisors of the Minister are matters of public record and discoverable with little or no difficulty,” the department said.

“Secondly, in terms of the Public Finance Management Act and applicable Treasury Regulations, Ministers are defined outside the value chain of procurement matters precisely to guarantee the integrity of such processes. 

No role in awarding tender

“Therefore, Minister Nzimande had absolutely no role in the awarding of a National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) tender to Mr Manyoni or any other individual or company. These allegations are therefore both false and malicious.”  

“Thirdly, the Minister is the Executive Authority and not the accounting officer of the Department of Higher Education and Training. 

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“Therefore, any queries relating to procurement processes at Nsfas should rightfully be directed to the Chief Executive Officer or Board of Nsfas,” the Department said in its official statement.  

Minister Nzimande has faced substantial criticism in recent weeks after being implicated in an Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) report. The allegations involve him, Nsfas board chair Ernest Khosa, and the SA Communist Party in diverting funds from the scheme. Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage has asserted his determination not to yield despite the controversy.

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