DA welcome SARS stance against NSFAS deceit

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education
02 Feb 2024 in News

The DA welcomes the decision by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner, Edward Kieswetter, to stop sharing personal information of parents and guardians with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) without their consent.

This after NSFAS allegedly discriminated against students with information obtained from SARS without the written consent from their parents. This action breached both the memorandum of understanding between NSFAS and SARS, as well as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

It is shameful that President Cyril Ramaphosa has not taken a single action against Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, given this latest scandal. The DA will request that an urgent investigation be launched into the Minister’s role and knowledge of this gross abuse, as well as the various dodgy tenders of NSFAS direct payment to service providers, accommodation service providers, accommodation accreditation agents, and the alleged kickbacks to – the Minister, the South African Communist Party (SACP), and NSFAS Chairperson, Ernest Khosa.

Every year, the DA is inundated with single and divorced parents and guardians whose children’s NSFAS applications and appeals are rejected due to the estranged other parent’s income breaching the assistance level.

NSFAS’ actions have denied worthy students of the funding needed to lift them out of poverty and denied them the reasonable chance to appeal this rejection, all while potentially traumatising students with tragic family histories.

Last year, 2 million students applied for NSFAS funding. Almost half of them were rejected – many due to SARS’ confirmation of parent income threshold, which we now know were unscrupulously obtained.

While Minister Nzimande often toots his own horn, the truth is in the pudding.

The Minister has not been a good and moral steward of taxpayer’s money. Instead, he has helmed a Department that willfully failed in its mandate to serve South Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable students.

Despite the Minister’s many press conferences this year already, he has yet to inform the public on how the R1.1 billion shortfall will be funded or why the NSFAS application process have been extended considering that 87 000 students might not be funded and the fact that 11 000 students have not received their 2023 funding.

It is time the President replaced Minister Nzimande with a competent Minister that will have the best interest of students at heart. Unfortunately, he would have to search outside the Tripartite Alliance.

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