The NSFAS Denies A Crisis After Thousands Of Students Aren’t Paid. The National Student Financial Scheme (NSFAS) strongly denies assertions made by the South African Union of Students (SAUS) regarding its alleged imminent collapse. NSFAS contends that it is in the midst of a comprehensive realignment and modernization process, geared towards meeting the evolving needs of the more than one million students it serves.
Addressing Allowance Delays and Modernization Efforts
Contrary to SAUS claims that NSFAS has failed over 70,000 students by not disbursing their monthly allowances since May, NSFAS maintains that it is diligently reviewing and refining all processes and operations related to its allowances models. The financial aid entity has recently recruited a new cadre of employees dedicated to implementing a student-centric model, with a direct payment system as a crucial component.
Implications for the Underprivileged Students
SAUS emphasizes the gravity of NSFAS’s alleged failure, particularly impacting students from poor and working-class backgrounds. The union expresses concerns about the potential academic and financial exclusion of these students, emphasizing the far-reaching consequences that could perpetuate a cycle of poverty.
Ministerial Intervention and Investigation
In response to the growing concerns, Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Minister Dr. Blade Nzimande has given the NSFAS board a three-week deadline to submit a comprehensive report on its service delivery. This directive follows an investigation by Werksmans Attorneys into irregularities, poor governance, and mismanagement within the organization.
Nzimande emphasizes the need for close monitoring of crucial service delivery aspects, such as timely payment of student allowances and the ongoing accreditation of student accommodation. The minister’s intervention underscores the seriousness with which the government views the situation, seeking accountability and transparency.
Leadership Changes and Allegations
The recent removal of NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo over corruption allegations adds a layer of complexity to the situation. Werksmans’ forensic report implicated Nongogo in corrupt practices, including an alleged relationship with a company involved in the new direct payment system. Nongogo, in turn, implicates NSFAS chairperson Ernest Khosa in purportedly unauthorized use of his electronic signature.
While Khosa denies the allegations, Nongogo has approached the labor court seeking reinstatement, arguing that his dismissal breached his employment contract.
Urgent Call for Ministerial Action
SAUS President Yandisa Ndzoyiya has given Minister Nzimande a 14-day ultimatum to address the perceived failure of the NSFAS board in providing effective oversight. The union urges the minister to ensure that the 2024 NSFAS applications are promptly opened, expressing concern that the current state of affairs might jeopardize the start of the academic year in 2024.
As the situation unfolds, stakeholders await the comprehensive report from NSFAS and the minister’s response, hoping for swift and effective measures to address the challenges faced by the financial aid scheme and the students it serves.
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