CABINET has appointed the new director-general of the Department of Higher Education weeks after former DG Gwebinkudla Qonde was suspended from the department.
The cabinet confirmed that Dr Nkosinathi Sishi is the new DG of Higher Education.
Qonde and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande were later embroiled in a legal battle after the former challenged his suspension from the department.
But he lost the case in the Labour Court in Joburg.
Nzimande, when he suspended Qonde two months ago, said this was based on the disclaimer of the Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke.
Nzimande said he also welcomed the finding of the court that ruled in his favour.
Qonde had argued that his suspension by the minister was unlawful.
Qonde had been in the department for more than a decade and was part of it when it was formally separated from basic education to form two different departments of education.
This had followed a resolution of the ANC in Polokwane in 2007 that education must be split into two.
When the new administration took over in 2009 higher education and basic education became standalone departments with two ministers.
Nzimande had insisted that he had done nothing when Qonde was suspended a few weeks ago.
But the former DG said the suspension was unlawful and he lost his bid in court.
The former DG was suspended in July and he took the matter to the Labour Court in August, but the ruling went against him in September.
Qonde was suspended following a forensic investigation into the National Skills Fund.
This after the department received a disclaimer audit opinion by the Auditor-General of South Africa.
The National Skills Fund received the disclaimer audit during the 2019/20 financial year.
The AG found the National Skills Fund’s budget was materially underspent by R1.8 billion.
It also found that the entity did not have adequate systems to maintain records of commitments and earmarked funds.
In addition, it found adjustments in the financial statement could not be determined whether it was necessary to the skills development funding expenses stated at R2.5 billion.
In March the Nationals Skills Fund said it had lodged a dispute over the disclaimer audit.
* Inside Education