Grant funding at corruption hotbed Setas to come under the spotlight

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The Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT-Seta) is being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit in connection with the allocation of discretionary grant funding.

Setas continue to be beset by poor governance, maladministration and corruption.

The Setas, which are meant to address the skills shortages in the country, have often been criticised for inefficiency, being a haven for corruption and for enrolling ghost students. They have also come under fire for failing to address the country’s skills deficit.

President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a proclamation last week authorising the SIU to investigate the MICT-Seta, as well as other government departments and entities.

The proclamation stipulates that the SIU probe any undisclosed or unauthorised interests which officials or employees of the MICT-Seta may have, and the extent to which officials may have derived benefit.

Parliament’s higher education and training portfolio committee welcomed the probe.

“The committee calls on the Department of Higher Education and Training to strengthen its oversight role as it relates to addressing financial abuses as well as appointing vigilant boards,” said committee chairwoman Connie September.

The SIU should move with speed to conclude its investigation and those responsible for stealing government money should face the full might of the law, she said.

“Good governance of the Setas, colleges and universities is non-negotiable. The sector must lead and be an example upon which all sectors model their management and administration,” said September.

The auditor-general has previously raised concerns about the continued underperformance of Setas.

There are 21 Setas covering all work sectors. They are tasked with creating opportunities in the form of internships, skills programmes and apprenticeships and they control billions of rand via a skills levy derived from employers. They were allocated R13.5bn for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, about 17% of the R80.5bn allocated to the higher education vote.

The department of higher education & training has previously said that as part of plans to improve efficiency and avoid duplication there was a proposal to reduce the number of Setas, merging those that focus on similar sectors.

However, higher education & training minister Naledi Pandor has called for a rethink of this plan and has instructed department officials to come up with new proposals.

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