Another potential COVID-19 procurement scandal brewing? Where are the students’ laptops?

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As the country faces a new, new South Africa, post a heavily regulated country, it seems that addressing corruption within the ANC is set to be more problematic than President Cyril Ramaphosa envisioned. Now with a highly vigilant and ever watching country, corruption is swiftly being brought to light. 

Following his letter to the ANC on Sunday, August 23, our anti-corruption fuelled president appears to have yet another major corruption scandal to deal with.

Read more: Has Ramaphosa seen the light, this after addressing failed ANC on years of corruption?

The president’s words were barely cold, when the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology, Philly Mapulane expressed concerns over delays in the procurement of laptops for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), qualifying students.

Please note, it has been four months since Minister Nzimande announced that government will procure laptops for all NSFAS qualifying students in universities plus Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

As the educational sector within South Africa aims at evolving its learning platforms. The procurement of these laptops forms part of government’s strategy to facilitate multi-modal remote learning and teaching methodologies. All of which is being done to save the 2020 academic year, which has taken a substantial knock due to the lockdown.

However, while students have been waiting in anticipation for their laptops, Mapulane says they remain undelivered due to unnecessary delays in the finalisation of the procurement processes by NSFAS.

Mapulane says, the delay is a cause for concern, due to allegations being brought to the committee, that there is interference with the procurement processes.

“Attempts are being made to manipulate the procurement process, and to finally get it aborted, because certain service providers are not following the recommended supply chain management processes of NSFAS.”

The committee is apparently taking these allegations seriously and will be following them up with the Administrator of NSFAS, Dr Randall Carolisen.

“We would like to appeal to Dr Carolisen 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. The country cannot afford another Covid-19 procurement scandal” said Philly Mapulane.

With the country taking a hard and firm stance on corrupt officials, the question remains, is it the country which cannot afford another procurement scandal or rather,  is it the ANC which cannot afford another Covid-19 procurement scandal?

Author: Quinton Boucher

Edited: Calvin Swemmer


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