Nzimande hits back at ‘malicious Outa report’

Henry

Malicious and false.

This is how Minister Blade Nzimande describes the pressure group Outa’s damning investigation report in which he and Ernest Khosa, chairman of the board of the national financial aid scheme for students (NSFAS), are directly implicated in allegations of corruption at NSFAS.

The minister of higher education, training in innovation strongly denies the damning allegations about a so-called patronage network.

“I have never used any money from any of my departments for the purposes of funding the SACP as maliciously and falsely represented in the Outa report, or received any personal back payments from any of the service providers.

“It’s all lies,” the minister insisted during a media conference on Monday afternoon.

According to Nzimande, the allegations against him are part of a “fight back campaign” which is related to the measures he introduced precisely to curb corruption at NSFAS.

“My conscience is clear and I have nothing to hide.”

Nzimande further said his record in fighting corruption at NSFAS as well as the country’s TVET colleges speaks for itself. “My fight against corruption and maladministration dates back to the first administrator at NSFAS where disciplinary processes were initiated.”

Last week, Outa shared an investigation report and two voice recordings with the Special Investigation Unit (SUE) – which has been investigating corruption at NSFAS since 2022 – to substantiate the damning allegations of a so-called patronage network.

The two recordings of two meetings between Khosa and a representative of a service provider apparently reveal how service providers paid millions of rands to Nzimande and Khosa as well as at least R1 million to the SACP in exchange for tenders and the protection of service providers.

Solidarity Helping Hand and the management of the Helping Hand Study Trust have meanwhile also expressed their concern about the allegations.

“The allegations of corruption and malpractice in the national financial aid scheme for students (NSFAS) and the involvement of leadership figures such as Minister Blade Nzimande and others are shocking,” says Hannes No√ęth, executive director of Solidarity Helping Hand. “We ask the following questions: Who is stealing from students now? Who has such an unethical intention that they steal the country’s future for their own gain?

“The revelations of irregularities and the alleged involvement of leadership figures put a serious question mark on the integrity of our education system. We appeal to the relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate these allegations and eradicate any form of corruption. Reports on the investigation must be fully transparent, and those involved must take responsibility for all unethical behavior.”