NSFAS Addresses Allowance Disbursement Controversy, Denies Ghost Student Claims. More than one million students depend on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for their allowances. These allowances are essential for their well-being, as they use them to purchase food and cover other study-related expenses. Late payments can pose a serious risk, potentially leading to hunger and financial distress among the student community.
NSFAS Refutes Late Payment Claims
NSFAS has responded to recent claims of delayed allowance payments with a firm denial. According to NSFAS, all allowance disbursements have been executed punctually. In October, NSFAS efficiently distributed allowances to 143,423 beneficiaries at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, amounting to R681,051,078. This success was achieved despite the temporary delay caused by phishing threats that necessitated additional security measures for fund transfers to universities.
Commitment to Timely Allowance Disbursement
NSFAS remains dedicated to disbursing allowances to students on 1 November 2023. In an effort to enhance efficiency and minimize delays in fund transfers, NSFAS has implemented various measures to streamline its disbursement processes. They acknowledge the vital role these funds play in students’ lives and are committed to providing financial assistance to those in need.
Dispelling “Ghost Student” Allegations
Ernest Khosa, the Chairperson of the NSFAS Board, refutes claims made in media reports that NSFAS paid monthly allowances to 157,980 “ghost students.” Khosa elaborates on the use of the Know Your Customer (KYC) validation process to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of student information. This rigorous process ensures that only eligible students receive financial assistance and includes flexible verification options like Electronic Biological Authentication and face-to-face verification.
Collaborative Approach to Allowance Disbursement
NSFAS is committed to disbursing allowances to students through its Direct Payment partners. The organization will continue working closely with educational institutions, students, and stakeholders to ensure the smooth execution of the disbursement process. Khosa emphasizes NSFAS’s intention to avoid public disputes, especially in light of recent allegations made by former NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo.
Investigation into Service Provider Appointments
In October 2023, Khosa shared findings of an investigation into allegations surrounding the appointment of direct payment service providers. The investigation revealed potential relationships between key individuals, including Nongogo, and the Fintech companies responsible for directly disbursing allowances to students. It also exposed the active involvement of the CEO in the presentation to the Bid Evaluation Committee and potential conflicts of interest in the appointment of service providers.
The investigation primarily focused on irregularities related to Bid NO. SCMN022/2021, which involved the appointment of service providers for direct payments. The report highlighted additional concerns, such as the absence of a feasibility study and amendments to the bid specifications.
NSFAS Stance on Nongogo Statements
NSFAS dismisses Nongogo statements as false and without foundation. Their primary focus remains on implementing the recommendations outlined in the Werksman report.
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