Nzimande Refutes Accusations of Misusing NSFAS Funds Amid OUTA Damning Claims

Nzimande Refutes Accusations of Misusing NSFAS Funds Amid OUTA Damning Claims

Nzimande Refutes Accusations of Misusing NSFAS Funds Amid OUTA Damning Claims. The Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, has vehemently denied allegations of misappropriating funds from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for personal gain. OUTA recently exposed damning voice recordings implicating Nzimande and NSFAS Chairperson, Ernest Khosa, in corruption related to the NSFAS direct payment system. In response, the Minister held a press briefing on Monday to address these serious accusations.

Leaked Recordings: What Do They Reveal?

The leaked voice recordings disclosed several concerning aspects:

  1. Alleged payments of millions to the Minister and Chairperson, with the South African Communist Party (SACP) receiving R1 million, in exchange for tenders and protection for service providers.
  2. Meetings indicating collusion between Khosa and influential figures linked to service providers, possibly compromising the impartiality of decision-making.
  3. Attempts to manipulate the NSFAS direct payment system investigation, including influencing the choice of a legal firm, Werksmans Attorneys.
  4. Nzimande’s awareness of connections with financial technology firms and suspicion of being under investigation.

Minister Response

Minister Nzimande, addressing the media on Monday, staunchly denied any wrongdoing and expressed his belief that OUTA’s allegations aimed to tarnish his reputation and disrupt the commencement of the 2024 academic year. He specifically refuted benefiting personally from NSFAS or departmental funds, stating:

“I have never used any money from any of my departments for the purpose of funding the SACP nor have I received any kickbacks from the service providers of NSFAS or any of the other entities falling under my departments.”

Nzimande dismissed OUTA’s claims as baseless and attributed them to a malicious “fight back” campaign. Emphasizing his innocence, he asserted having a clear conscience and nothing to hide.

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Government Stance and NSFAS Actions

The Department and NSFAS are reportedly collaborating with law enforcement to investigate maladministration and corruption allegations. Calls for the dismissal of Minister Nzimande and NSFAS Chairperson Khosa have emerged, particularly from student unions and organizations. Nzimande expressed concern, emphasizing the department’s regular consultations with student representatives.

Despite the controversies

Nzimande highlighted the government’s commitment to student funding and expanding access to education. He refuted accusations of theft, asserting his dedication to supporting disadvantaged students. Additionally, the NSFAS board is set to initiate proceedings to terminate contracts with four service providers, addressing concerns raised by OUTA.

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