Still No Word From NSFAS On When Devices Will Be Delivered
Parliament expressed concern that students still have not received the laptops they were promised by Government and that this could also be involved with an alleged interference in the process. However, NSFAS has responded to the concerns shown and laid out what they've been doing.
It has been four months since Minister Nzimande announced students would get laptops from NSFAS. Concern has now been shown by Parliament about his delay in devices as allegations of interference also came up in connection with it. NSFAS has since released a statement to clear up the air about thee allegations and where they stand with getting the devices for students.
Committee Chairperson Philly Mapulane says delays are unnecessary and has said, "We would like to appeal to Dr Carolissen not to allow any undue interference with the supply chain management processes of NFSAS, and to speedily conclude this process of the procurement of the laptops so that students from poor and working class families can be able to study and be taught remotely."
Tenders are issued when there is a request for a company to supply goods to Government as formal processes are needed here. Many cases of corruption has come as it deals with large amounts of money, sometimes millions at a time. hat these under interferences could mean is that someone could be interfering with the tender procedures to favour one company over the other. NSFAS said in a statement that they are following the correct formal processes that need to be done with issuing, and in their case canceling, a tender.
Due to these delays, Committee Chairperson Philly Mapulane said that laptop deliveries might only happen next year around February if the allegations of interferences are true. This will badly affect students and will interfere with efforts to save the academic year. They won't be able to continue their academic programmes which have already been on pause for months for some.
Mapulane said that the country can't afford another procurement scandal and that they have given space to the NSFAS Administrator, Randall Carolissen, for this week to finalise the process and if it isn't finalised, they would then have to come in as urgently as possible to interrogate delays and allegations.
It was said that the intention of this alleged interference is to collapse the process and get it finally aborted so that the process can restart. This would then affect over 700 000 students but some might have received laptops already. There are however still a lot who don't have devices and are still waiting for laptops to be delivered as it was promised by Government.
About these delays, NSFAS responded, "NSFAS did some groundwork to ensure that there are no further delays on this project" and continued to apologise for the delay saying that they take the issue of compliance, thorough and fair processes firmly.
After the announcement, “NSFAS then prepared the tender document and advertised a tender on 26 June 2020 for the supply and delivery of the digital learning devices (laptops) for NSFAS funded students.” However, it was established that no acceptable bid was received and that the tender did not meet all the requirements and had to be cancelled.
On the new tender drawn up, NSFAS said, “A notice to advertise the new tender will be submitted to the Government Printing Works on 28 August 2020, for publication on 4 September 2020. The new tender will be published in the Government Tender Bulletin, the National Treasury E-tender portal and the NSFAS website on 4 September 2020, with updated requirements.”
NSFAS has said that once they appoint who will be supplying them with devices, it will be delivered and that the “ completion of this project is of paramount importance and priority to NSFAS”.
Although NSFAS has made it clear that they are carrying out the processes to procure the devices, they still aren't answering the question on everyone's minds of when these devices will be ready and at the end of it, students still haven't received their laptops and as it seems according to their statement, it might still take a while.
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