Department Of Higher Education Appoints New NSFAS Chair. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is set to undergo significant leadership changes, as confirmed by the Department of Higher Education. The newly appointed acting Chairperson, Professor Lourens Van Staden, is expected to play a crucial role in shaping the future direction of the financial aid scheme.
Immediate Appointment of Professor Lourens Van Staden
Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande has officially announced the appointment of Professor Lourens Van Staden as the acting Chairperson of NSFAS, effective immediately. Professor Van Staden steps into his role during a busy period for NSFAS, tasked with prioritizing the recruitment of a new CEO and implementing recommendations from the Werksmans report commissioned by NSFAS.
Key Responsibilities Amidst Ongoing Processes
Professor Van Staden’s immediate responsibilities include overseeing the processing of 2024 NSFAS bursary applications and ensuring a smooth commencement of the 2024 academic year. Minister Nzimande stressed the importance of prioritizing readiness for the upcoming academic year during a briefing session with Professor Van Staden.
NSFAS’s Significance in South African Education
NSFAS plays a vital role in supporting over a million students enrolled in approved programs at South African universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. The financial aid scheme continues to accept applications for the 2024 academic year, expanding its reach to benefit more students.
Reasons Behind Van Staden’s Appointment
Minister Nzimande’s decision to appoint Professor Van Staden follows the voluntary leave of absence by NSFAS Board Chairperson Ernest Khosa. This move allows the organization to investigate allegations made against Khosa and Minister Nzimande by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA).
Allegations and Response
OUTA has alleged that kickbacks were received by Khosa and Minister Nzimande in connection with the awarding of a lucrative tender. Voice recordings released by OUTA suggest a questionable relationship between Khosa and service providers, implying that payments were exchanged for the awarding of tenders. Minister Nzimande has denied any wrongdoing and is considering legal action against OUTA.
The Werksmans Report
The Werksmans Report, commissioned by NSFAS, focused on irregularities related to Bid NO. SCMN022/2021. The investigation revealed that former NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo had connections with service providers awarded a lucrative contract. Nongogo’s active involvement in presenting proposals to the Bid Evaluation Committee led to his termination. The report recommends the termination of service provider contracts and calls for disciplinary action against staff implicated in wrongdoing.