There has recently been a lot of back and forth between The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Today, NEHAWU was absent at a meeting to discuss the matter further with the NSFAS Administrator present.

NEHAWU was expected to attend the meeting with the Portfolio Committee but was not able to. Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Philly Mapulane, said that it was not completely clear as to why the Union could not attend. 

Mapulane was of the opinion that the meeting should not continue due to the Union’s absence as the meeting was meant to discuss their responses to the Committee’s questions.

The Union sent a letter to the Committee marking their absence where engagements and meetings were mentioned. Mapulane then said that he does not know what the engagements NEHAWU mentioned are involving.

The Portfolio Committee has been in contact with the Union and has forwarded the responses from NSFAS to them so that they could reply and prepare a presentation which the Committee has received, said Mapulane.

The National Education and Health Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has said that Randall Carolissen being appointed as the Administrator of NSFAS hasn’t solved any issues. The Union also wanted Carolissen to be fired, saying that he has run the institution into the ground.

During the meeting, it was also made clear that all NSFAS employees who were suspended will be reporting back to work tomorrow after NEHAWU held engagements with NSFAS and the Minister.

As the meeting was scheduled so that the running issues between NSFAS and NEHAWU could be discussed, NSFAS Administrator, Dr Randall Carolissen, was present and said:

We were really looking forward to this session because there are a number of issues that we want to give transparency on.

Carolissen then explained that he was prepared to take the Committee through the entire laptop tender process as they’ve completed the second tender and are in a position where they can disclose what needs to be disclosed.

“I take the work and the oversight of this committee very seriously and i think our record demonstrates that,” said the Administrator.

NSFAS has also issued reports to the Portfolio Committee on the situation where the financial aid scheme pulled the funding from 5000 students and also on laptop deliveries to students.

Carolissen mentioned, “I suspect that the briefing on the laptop tender process is going to be quite lengthy” as NSFAS plans to go into detail about where the process is currently standing and the tender process.

NEHAWU engaged in protests which saw NSFAS employees demanding that NSFAS gives workers’ an increase of 8% to their salaries. NEHAWU and NSFAS have now reached an agreement and signed a wage negotiation agreement. Salary increases resulting from the wage agreement will be implemented on 30 October and backdated to 1 April 2020, said NSFAS.

The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé