NSFAS must reveal how they will protect students after cancellation of direct payment contracts

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
19 Oct 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please see attached soundbite by Chantel King MP

The DA will request the urgent appearance of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board before the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education to determine the implications for students after yesterday’s revelations from the investigation by Werkmans Attorneys and advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC. This investigation and the board’s transparency is a victory for accountability and oversight.

Yesterday, NSFAS board chairperson Ernest Khosa revealed NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo’s active participation in the evaluation of the bids, as well as conflict of interest in the appointment of the four direct payment service providers.

Given the NSFAS board’s decision to terminate the contracts of all four service providers, we need to know the Scheme’s plans to ensure that no students would be adversely affected. We need to be briefed on how NSFAS will implement direct payment once the contracts of the four service providers are cancelled and whether a new bid process with new service providers be considered.

We cannot allow students to be placed in situations again where they might be saddled with non-payment of allowances, which at this stage into the examinations might lead to student unrest and mental anguish for students and parents alike.

The DA welcomes the board’s decision to review NSFAS’ Supply Chain Management (SCM) Policy and bring it in line with the National Treasury Regulations and Policies, including the PFMA, as well as their assurance that all implicated staff measures will face consequence management in the form of disciplinary hearings.

The outcome of the investigation highlights the serious concerns we raised about the conflict of interest between Nongogo and the four direct payment service providers. The committee would need clarity on whether the payments already made to the four direct payment service providers will amount to irregular expenditure due to the irregular awarding of these contracts.

The board indicated that the cost associated with this investigation will be communicated once the investigation is completed and we call on the board to furnish us with the cost of this investigation, as well as the full report.

The DA will do everything in our power to ensure that students’ lives and studies are not disrupted due to NSFAS’ failures.

Be part of the mission to rescue South Africa, get help registering to vote at check.da.org.za