BOMBSHELL: Minister Blade Nzimande, whose been implicated in a report and recording.
LEAKED voice recordings by a whistleblower and an accompanying report by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) have exposed the alleged corruption and mismanagement at National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas).
The recordings have also implicated the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande and the Nsfas Board chairman, Ernest Khosa.
Both Nzimande and Khosa have denied the allegations, with the minister threatening to take legal action.
It’s believed that the recordings are from two meetings (meeting one and meeting two) between Khosa and a representative of a service provider, which has since been identified as Thula Ntumba, of Coinvest Africa (Pty) Ltd
Coinvest Africa (Pty) Ltd is among the four service providers which were awarded the tenders for facilitating direct payments to students since July 2023, which now sees more than 20 000 students not being paid.
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According to Outa’s investigations manager Rudie Heyneke, the recordings revealed how service providers allegedly paid millions of rands in kickbacks to Nzimande and Khosa.
As well as at least R1 million to the South African Communist Party (SACP), where Nzimande is the national chairman.
“During these meetings Mr Khosa also brief Mr Ntumba and an unidentified third person on the progress of the Werksmans investigation into the conduct of the former Nsfas CEO Andile Nongogo.
“It was also confirmed to Mr Khoza that although the contract to pay student balances didn’t go according to plan, the so-called ‘top players’ were still willing to pay incentives,” he said.
“These Outa accompanying reports are the latest bombshells exposing corruption and mismanagement at Nsfas. The scheme admitted earlier this week that at least 20 000 students countrywide are still waiting for their 2023 allowances to be paid,” he said.
Heyneke further emphasised that students didn’t deserve this kind of treatment and further called for the resignation of Ndzimande and Khosa.
“If they don’t resign, we call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire them immediately,” he said.
Nsfas and Nzimande clear their names
Nsfas had denied all allegations by Outa and expressed outrage over the call to have Nzimande and Khosa resign.
“The chairperson of the Nsfas Board, Mr Ernest Khosa strongly dismisses with contempt this voice recording and insinuation that he has received money, meant for him, Minister Nzimande, the South Africa Communist Party (SACP) and other third parties…” the funding scheme said.
Further in their response, Nsfas said it noted the fight back by some unscrupulous individuals and organisations who are determined to “defocus” Nsfas from implementing the Werksmans Attorneys report recommendations.
“It’s 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 Nsfas Board would like to state that its immediate focus is to finalise its preparations for the successful beginning of the 2024 academic year.”
Nsfas said further enphasising that it would continue to work with law enforcement agencies to further probe the recordings in circulation and all the reported instances of corruption and maladministration at Nsfas.
At the same time Nzimande has rejected the “malicious allegations” contents in the leaked Outa report and further reassured the public that he never used any money from any of department entities for the purpose of funding the SACP.
“The minister views the allegations contained in this leaked report as reckless and largely based on gossip and are intended to undermine a smooth start to the 2024 academic year. Furthermore, given the damaging allegations continued in this report the Minister reserves his right to take the necessary legal action,” said a representative of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Veli Mbele said.