The NSFAS “Leaked Recordings” Are Based on Gossip, According to Nzimande. Last week, leaked recordings surfaced, suggesting that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande had received substantial kickbacks in connection to tenders awarded for paying NSFAS allowances. Nzimande vehemently denies these claims, dismissing them as malicious.
OUTA Reveals Alleged Kickback Scheme
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) disclosed voice recordings from meetings between NSFAS Board Chairperson Ernest Khosa and a service provider representative. The recordings suggest that multimillion-dollar kickbacks were paid to Nzimande and Khosa, with an additional sum of at least R1 million going to the South African Communist Party (SACP). These alleged payments aimed to secure lucrative tenders for the service providers in charge of disbursing NSFAS allowances.
Corruption Unveiled within NSFAS
OUTA’s report, accompanied by the leaked recordings, exposes corruption and mismanagement within NSFAS, marking the latest revelation in a series of scandals. However, Minister Nzimande dismisses these allegations as reckless gossip, viewing them as an attempt to disrupt the smooth start of the 2024 academic year.
Nzimande Response and Legal Threats
Nzimande firmly refutes the OUTA allegations, emphasizing that he has never diverted funds from any department entities to support the SACP. The minister warns that he retains the right to take legal action against OUTA for publishing their investigation, given the damaging nature of the accusations.
NSFAS and the Direct Allowance Payment System
The NSFAS Direct Allowance Payment System, implemented to empower students with control over their allowances, has come under scrutiny. Investigations suggest possible relationships between key individuals, including NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo, and the four companies responsible for facilitating direct payments to students.
OUTA Raises Concerns About Tender Irregularities
OUTA raises concerns about irregularities in the tender for direct NSFAS allowance payments, indicating potential inflated charges for services related to students’ NSFAS bank accounts. They also highlight Nongogo’s possible role in the tender awarding process, pointing to his past activities at the Services SETA.
Termination of Direct Payment Service Providers’ Contracts
Former NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo’s tenure was terminated in 2023 following an independent report by Werksmans Attorneys, suggesting a possible relationship with fintech companies involved in NSFAS allowance payments. Khosa states that NSFAS is working on terminating contracts with direct payment service providers, acknowledging the irregularities but ensuring a fair resolution that does not harm students.