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Nzimande guns for ActionSA over NSFAS scandal

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Nzimande guns for ActionSA over NSFAS scandal

Nzimande guns for ActionSA over NSFAS scandal. ActionSA, a political party, plans to file criminal charges against Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, and Ernest Khosa, the Chairperson of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The charges stem from their alleged involvement in corruption related to contracts at NSFAS, as revealed in a report by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).

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Outa Report

Outa’s report outlines the alleged kickback scheme, presenting evidence through recordings indicating that millions of rands were purportedly paid to Nzimande and Khosa by a service provider. The corruption is believed to be connected to contracts awarded to four fintech companies responsible for distributing NSFAS allowances to students.

ActionSA Response

In response to Outa’s report, ActionSA issues a statement asserting that the information suggests blatant criminal conduct under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004. The party intends to report the case at the Lyttleton police station in Centurion, Pretoria.

Nzimande Denial

Minister Nzimande denies the allegations and distances himself from the accusations. He emphasizes the responsibility of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to conduct a comprehensive investigation, ensuring accountability for all implicated individuals.

Additional Calls for Investigation

African Transformation Movement (ATM) President Vuyolwethu Zungula writes to the Public Protector, Kholeka Gcaleka, requesting an urgent and comprehensive investigation into the allegations against Nzimande and Khosa. Zungula emphasizes the gravity of the accusations, citing a systemic breakdown within NSFAS affecting student fund disbursement.

Request for Public Protector Investigation

Zungula’s letter urges the Public Protector to investigate reasons behind delays in student allowance disbursement, scrutinize service provider contracts, probe financial mismanagement issues, and investigate the alleged embezzlement by Nzimande and Khosa as revealed in leaked recordings.

Impact on Students

Zungula underscores the potential impact of proven allegations on students, stating that such actions not only violate trust in public officials but also compromise NSFAS’s purpose in supporting students in need.

Conclusion

The letter urges the Public Protector to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the entire matter, not only focusing on Nzimande and Khosa but also delving into broader issues of financial mismanagement, irregularities in service provider contracts, and any other forms of corruption within NSFAS.

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NSFAS News

How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students

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How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students

How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students. More than one million students in South Africa benefit from comprehensive bursaries provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Despite this support, student unions, particularly the South African Students Congress (SASCO), have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the current funding system and have called for improvements.

Check Also: ZA Student Portal

Challenges Faced by Students

In 2023, NSFAS funded over a million students enrolled in approved courses at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. However, the scheme faced challenges in effectively assisting the poor and working-class students due to several issues. These challenges were partly attributed to the implementation of a direct allowance payment system, which led to irregularities and necessitated “consequence management.”

Controversy Over Allowance Distribution

The direct payment system, introduced in 2022, involved four companies handling student allowance payments. However, an investigation revealed potential conflicts of interest, leading to the dismissal of NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo and termination of contracts with the service providers. Despite this, in 2024, NSFAS required students to register with these same companies for allowance distribution, drawing criticism from SASCO.

SASCO Criticisms and Demands

SASCO has accused the NSFAS Board of hypocrisy for reinstating allegedly irregular service providers. They argue that the current system exploits students, leading to delays, inefficiency, and unnecessary charges. SASCO calls for the implementation of recommendations from the Werksmans report, including terminating contracts with the companies.

Accommodation Crisis

SASCO also criticizes NSFAS for its indecisiveness in addressing the student accommodation crisis. While NSFAS launched an accommodation portal in 2022, SASCO argues that NSFAS has not taken practical steps to increase bed spaces in higher learning institutions and TVET Colleges. They demand immediate action to improve student living conditions.

Conclusion

The current NSFAS funding system faces criticism from student unions like SASCO, who call for more transparency, efficiency, and student-centered approaches. The ongoing controversies highlight the need for NSFAS to address these concerns promptly to ensure that students receive the support they need to succeed in their studies.

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