Parliament not deterred by Minister Nzimande’s efforts to shield NSFAS

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education
05 Oct 2023 in News

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

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande completely lost the plot at last night’s parliamentary portfolio committee meeting on higher education when he accused the committee of overstepping its mandate regarding our reasonable request that National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) direct payment service providers present additional information to the committee.

The Minister’s outburst was counterproductive and could be seen as an attempt to undermine Parliament’s oversight role over the Department of Higher Education and its entities.

The meeting with NSFAS and the four direct payment service providers was to establish:

  • Steps to deal with NSFAS ICT challenges;
  • Gather further information on the accreditation and cost associated of accommodation service providers;
  • The efficiency, capacity, fee structure and non-payment of allowances by direct payment service providers; and
  • To establish the progress of the Werksman investigation regarding alleged tender irregularities committed by NSFAS CEO, Andile Nongogo.

These are critical issues that the committee needed answers to, and the Minister’s behaviour detracted from that.

The fact is that NSFAS yet again failed to answer all of the committee’s questions regarding whether its suitably capacitated, as well as the fee structures of the direct payment service providers which are not the most cost effective for students. The committee requested that the service providers provide the required answers within 7 days.

We note that the Werksman investigative report will be ready within 10 working days, and we eagerly await the outcome of this investigation and the recommendations therein.

The exodus of individuals in senior positions at NSFAS is concerning, and we await the announcement of the new chief operating officer (COO) next week.

Neither the committee nor the DA will allow Minister Nzimande to deter us from our mandate of holding the executive to account. We will continue delving into possible corruption at NSFAS in an effort to hold the Scheme to account and to ensure that all issues affecting the academic progress of students are effectively addressed.

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