Minister Nzimande must follow Ernest Khosa’s lead and step aside

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
11 Jan 2024 in News

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

The DA welcomes the decision of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) chairperson, Ernest Khosa, to take a leave of absence to allow the NSFAS board to investigate allegations against him in leaked recordings presented by OUTA.

The DA now calls on Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, to follow suit and also step aside and allow President Cyril Ramaphosa to lodge an investigation into the allegations against him.

The DA has also written to the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education, Nompendulo Thobile Mkhatshwa, to request that Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, appear before the committee as a matter of urgency regarding the serious allegations of criminal and ethical misconduct by OUTA.

The Minister must assure Parliament under oath that:

  1. He has never met Thula Ntumba, the husband of a director of NSFAS direct payment service provider Coinvest Africa, Tshegofatso Ntumba, or any other NSFAS payment provider; and
  2. He has never received any money from them in his individual or representative capacity.

We further requested that Khosa and Ntumba also account to Parliament regarding these allegations.

Apart from the host of allegations in the OUTA Report, the organisation also stated that “Higher Education is riddled with corruption” and “[t]he extend (sic) of corruption allegedly stretches from the minister to board chairpersons, board members, executives, and other employees”.

The NSFAS board’s decision to hire an independent firm for the investigation is commendable, however, given the allegations in the leaked recordings that legal firms are hired to control the outcome of investigations, the NSFAS board must ensure that the process to enroll the services of a legal firm is above board.

The NSFAS board must release the outcome and recommendations of this investigation to the committee and not squirrel it away as was done with the Werksmans report regarding former NSFAS CEO, Andile Nongogo.

This is an opportunity for Minister Nzimande to clear his name and inform the President he would welcome an investigation into these allegations.

Should the Minister refuse to do the honourable thing, President Ramaphosa must suspend him for the duration of the investigation.

Every year thousands of students rely on NSFAS funding to achieve their hopes and dreams through higher education. If the Minister callously partook in any form of corruption or collusion, or protected anyone who did, his head must roll.