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Nzimande vows to plug ‘leaks’ in research returns


Minister signals zero tolerance on corruption and mismanagement of IP and benefits

South Africa’s science and technology minister has vowed to protect the government’s return on its research investments.

“In our research and development value chain there are still leakages of intellectual property and benefits to the state if it was research funded by [the] government,” Nzimande said in a question-and-answer session in the National Assembly on 25 November.

Nzimande made the remark responding to questions from three MPs from the African National Congress, Freedom Front Plus and Democratic Alliance on allegations of corruption in dealings between the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and South Africa-based laser printing company Aeroswift. Nzimande said that a forensic report had cleared both parties of wrongdoing.

Nevertheless, the minister promised to act swiftly on any allegations of corruption or mismanagement of government research funding. “[It is on] my radar, if I smell a rat I will do an investigation,” he said.

Nzimande said that there must be “transparency and cleanliness” in all research funded by the state, and that it also needs to produce some benefit for the government. “Government must be able to get some resources back to reinvest into research and development,” he said.

The minister added that he has commissioned an investigation into the Technology and Innovation Agency. “I’m reviewing the TIA in order to address and create a proper framework for dealing with this transition from IP to commercialisation,” Nzimande said.