As tender corruption allegations continue to haunt the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) handling more than R46bn in grants, NGO Accountability Now head advocate Paul Hoffman believes tenders should be axed and scheme employees take over the direct distribution of funds to students.
Hoffman made the remarks in the wake of NSFAS board chairperson Ernest Khosa’s voluntarily leave of absence pending a probe into allegations against him in an Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) report.
The civil rights organisation Outa released a report with leaked recordings alleging service providers awarded multimillion-rand tenders by NSFAS for direct payments to students paid bribes or kickbacks to Khosa, higher education minister Blade Nzimande and the SACP.
Nzimande and Khosa have denied allegations against them.
The corruption allegations hit NSFAS three months after the board fired former CEO Andile Nongogo after a report by law firm Werksmans Attorneys and advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi which detailed irregularities in a tender awarded to four companies.
The Outa report alleges Nzimande and Khosa were involved in malfeasance.
To end apparent never-ending corruption allegations at the scheme, Hoffman believes NSFAS should take over the distribution of direct payments.
“The service providers, some of them have been involved in shenanigans that benefited the SACP, if not the minister of higher education, were unnecessarily appointed because the staff of NSFAS are meant to be dishing out the grants to students. Subcontracting it out was done irregularly and illegally,” Hoffman said.
“It is not their job to find other people to do their work. It is their job to do their work, that is where the basic flaw in the system happens.”
The EFF, ActionSA and the DA have opened criminal cases regarding the allegations against Nzimande and Khosa.
Hoffman said the spotlight was on the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to investigate the allegations and look into documents supplied by Outa.
“The ball is in the court of the Hawks and NPA. We must just hope it is not sent to them to die of unnatural causes but that they will give attention to the docket. We should expect a criminal prosecution by the Hawks and the NPA in a case such as this where angry students burn universities if they do not get the grants they expected. It is a matter for fast tracking,” Hoffman said, speaking on Newzroom Afrika.
Nzimande on Monday said allegations against him and Khosa were not true.
“As minister of higher education, science and innovation I have never used money from any of my department’s entities for funding the SACP, as maliciously suggested in the Outa report. Nor have I received personal kickbacks from the service providers to NSFAS or any of the other entities falling under my departments,” he said.
HERE ARE SOME REACTIONS FROM SOCIAL MEDIA:
With all eyes on @DrBladeNzimande‘s press conference at 14h00 to counter #OUTA‘s call for him to resign over leaked @myNSFAS recordings, listen to this and ask yourself why “the minister is sh*t scared” if he is not guilty of any wrongdoing. What is #ErnestKhosa, #NSFAS board… pic.twitter.com/DUoG1sx0V5
— OUTA (@OUTASA) January 8, 2024
Leaked recordings released by OUTA reveal that service providers that were awarded lucrative tenders to administer direct payments to students allegedly paid kickbacks to the chairman of NSFAS, Ernest Khosa, to the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, and to the SACP. pic.twitter.com/wxPDmXAL1j
— John Steenhuisen MP (@jsteenhuisen) January 8, 2024
Northern Cape Youth Forum Chairperson, Tshepo Moloko, supports the call for Minister Blade Nzimande and NSFAS Chairperson, Ernest Khoza, to resign immediately #SouthAfrica #NSFAS #ActionSAYouthForum @Action4SA @HermanMashaba @anthxymlk pic.twitter.com/Su9NYxyfd4
— ActionSA Youth Forum (@ActionSA_Youth) January 11, 2024
The EFF is affirmed in our long held view that at the centre of the collapse of the higher education sector is Blade Nzimande, who has now been exposed through leaked voice recordings for having secret meetings with service providers who have allegedly donated more… pic.twitter.com/bnULkVhJil
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) January 9, 2024