Blade Nzimande responds to Bantu Holomisa’s letter

Minister says he won't stop employing people on the basis of their competence, just because they are SACP

Minister Blade Nzimande responds to the public letter sent by Mr Bantu Holomisa to the President titled “The Auditor General’s Final Management Report…”

21 January 2021

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande would like to publicly respond to the letter circulating on various social media platforms regarding the Auditor General’s final management report on the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Minister Nzimande’s response also follows on media enquiries received from a few media outlets. 

Minister Nzimande deems it proper that he releases his response publicly in the interest of transparency and accountability.

Firstly, any irregularities or concerns as pointed out by the Auditor-General (AG) are dealt with through internal discussions in the department, including any corrective measures that may need to be undertaken by the department and/or the Executive Authority arising out of such audit opinions or findings. 

However,  Minister Nzimande would like to confirm that he has, like in all instances, provided reasons in writing for his decision in the temporary appointment of the official/s as contained in your enquiry. The Minister can also confirm that the DHET Audit has also been presented to Parliament and the AG also briefed parliament.

Secondly, Minister Nzimande dismisses with the contempt it deserves the allegation that his actions in running the department of higher education and Training as the Executive Authority, including appointments he made, are described as interference. 

This allegation has been consistently made by a certain leader of a political party, - who seems to have turned himself into a chief shop steward for disgruntled elements in my department - who is on record that he has been given such (malicious and misleading) information by some senior officials in the Department of Higher Education and Training. 

The Minister has acted in terms of the law as cited below: 

In terms of the Public Service Act, 1994, under 12A Appointment of persons on grounds of policy considerations:

“(1) Subject to this section, such executive authorities as the Cabinet may determine, may appoint one or more persons under a contract, whether in a full- time or part-time capacity- 

to advise the executive authority on the exercise or performance of the executive authority's powers and duties; 
to advise the executive authority on the development of policy that will promote the relevant department's objectives; or 
to perform such other tasks as may be appropriate in respect of the exercise or performance of the executive authority's powers and duties.”

Minister Nzimande wishes to state that there is no amount of political blackmail or allegations of ‘interference’ is going to detract him from taking action against instances of incompetence, corruption and illegal actions and other such malfeasance inside the Department of Higher Education and Training by any employee, irrespective of their rank in the department. 

Minister Nzimande is not going to stop employing people on the basis of their competence just because they happen to be members of some political parties, including the South African Communist Party. The Department does not look into political affiliation of any appointee. The days of the Suppression of the Communism Act are long gone and the Minister will not allow this relic of the apartheid regime to be used to discriminate against the employment of communists in government. There is nothing wrong in the employment of communists in government.

In relation to the appointment of accounting authorities of entities falling under his department/s, it remains the Minister’s responsibility as assigned by the law, and the Minister has performed his role and responsibility as per legislative and policy prescriptions and to the best of his discretion and judgement to achieve the goals and objectives of my department.

Issued by Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology, 21 January 2021