More criminal charges against Nzimande, NSFAS chairman

Henry

The minister of higher education, training and innovation is going to be criminally charged by yet another political party for the latest allegations about corruption at the national financial aid scheme for students (NSFAS).

ActionSA says he won’t go. Blade Nzimande and Ernest Khosa, chairman of the NSFAS board, declare about the alleged illegalities in which the pressure group Outa’s damning investigative report implicates them.

The allegations concern a so-called patronage network in the department of higher education.

On Monday, the DA laid criminal charges against Nzimande and began legal proceedings to declare the NSFAS board to be delinquent directors.

Hluphi Gafane, chairman of ActionSA’s youth forum, says the party believes that the allegations against Nzimande and Khosa are “blatant criminal actions” that require a “comprehensive investigation to ensure that every person under suspicion is identified and held accountable”.

“ActionSA is committed to ensuring that justice prevails for the nearly one million students who have suffered as a result of the fraudulent and corrupt transactions,” says Gafane.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) also requested in a letter to the Public Protector (OB) that the allegations be investigated, as it was clearly stated in Outa’s report that there is a “systemic collapse of NSFAS”.

“This investigation must not only be at min. Nzimande and the NSFAS chairman are not wallowing, but also delving into the wider issue of financial mismanagement, pointing out irregularities in service provider contracts and any other forms of corruption in NSFAS,” the ATM said.

On Monday, Nzimande denied the damning allegations and said he had never used the department’s money to fund the SACP or received any personal back payments from any service providers.

He also lashed out at Outa’s report and said “it’s all lies”.

According to Outa, however, it seems that Nzimande is “deliberately trying to sidestep the issues raised by Outa’s report and the claims made in the surveys”.

Outa confirmed that it has filed criminal charges against those involved, and will share its report and the accompanying recordings with the auditor general, as well as with the OB, Werksmans lawyers, the South African Revenue Service (SARS), the national treasury and USAf, the umbrella body for universities.

“It will also be given to the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education, training and innovation for oversight purposes.”

Wayne Duvenage, chief executive of Outa, referred to Nzimande’s comment that he might take legal action against the pressure group.

“We will defend any legal action taken against us in this regard, as we take our work seriously and do not spread reports and statements that we cannot substantiate.”

Nzimande said he “refuses to resign”, but various political parties and Outa have now appealed to pres. Cyril Ramaphosa did to summarily dismiss the minister.