Nzimande unfazed by OUTA investigation

todayJanuary 9, 2024 25

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The Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, says he has nothing to hide.

He was responding to mounting calls for his axing following a NSFAS corruption scandal in which he is implicated.

Nzimande says he is not afraid and has thus voluntarily decided to subject himself to the relevant legal processes and ethics bodies of the ANC and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Last week, OUTA released voice recordings, which reveal how service providers allegedly paid millions of rand in kickbacks to Nzimande, his party – the SACP and the chairperson of the NSFAS board, Ernest Khosa.

This was allegedly done in return for tenders and protection for the implicated service providers.

According to OUTA, a whistleblower shared two recordings of the alleged talks.

The Minister has rejected the claims as an attempt to frustrate NSFAS.

Nzimande says he views the allegations as reckless and largely based on gossip and are intended to undermine a smooth start to the 2024 academic year.

The Minister says he is planning an urgent meeting with the NSFAS board on Wednesday to deliberate over OUTA’s damning report.

Nzimande has also raised concerns over the reaction of some student organisations to the news.

Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen has revealed that the party is preparing to press criminal charges against Nzimande.

Steenhuisen says the party also wants the NSFAS board to be declared delinquent.

The Freedom Front Plus on the other hand wants an urgent meeting meeting with Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education over the claims.
Spokesperson, Wynand Boschoff, says the allegations are serious and they can’t turn a blind eye to them.
The NSFAS board has dismissed the claims with contempt.
In a statement, the board says it “notes the fight back by some unscrupulous individuals and organisations who are determined to defocus NSFAS from implementing the Werksmans Attorneys report recommendations. It is also interesting to note that the OUTA statement coincides with the NSFAS Board decision to start with the legal proceedings to terminate the contracts of the direct payment solution service providers.”
The financial aid scheme has also accused OUTA of gradually drifting away from its stance of being society’s watchdog, saying it is perpetually venturing into politics.

“It is also a concerning trend that OUTA’s successive “investigative” reports are characterised by advocacy for business interest of some individuals and companies who might have unsuccessfully attempted to solicit business from NSFAS.”

OUTA’s report that’s in dispute comes amid concerns of the outstanding allowance payments of at least 20 000 NSFAS beneficiaries countrywide.

Written by: Nokwazi Qumbisa

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