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NSFAS Deception Welcomed By DA

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NSFAS Deception Welcomed By DA

NSFAS Deception Welcomed By DA. The Democratic Alliance (DA) applauds the recent decision by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter, to terminate the sharing of personal information of parents and guardians with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) without proper consent.

This comes in the wake of allegations that NSFAS discriminated against students by utilizing information obtained from SARS without written authorization from their parents, violating both the memorandum of understanding between NSFAS and SARS and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

The DA asserts that the lack of action from President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding Higher Education Minister, Dr. Blade Nzimande, in the face of this scandal is regrettable.

The party is now urging for an urgent investigation into the Minister role and awareness of this gross abuse, as well as probing into questionable tenders related to NSFAS direct payments to service providers, accommodation accreditation agents, and alleged kickbacks to the Minister, the South African Communist Party (SACP), and NSFAS Chairperson, Ernest Khosa.

Impact on Students

The repercussions of NSFAS actions are felt by numerous single and divorced parents and guardians whose children’s applications and appeals are rejected due to the income of the estranged other parent breaching the assistance level. This denial of funding not only obstructs deserving students from breaking the cycle of poverty but also hampers their ability to appeal the rejection, potentially causing trauma, particularly for those with tragic family histories.

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Unscrupulous Practices

Last year, out of the 2 million students applying for NSFAS funding, almost half were rejected, many due to the confirmation of parent income thresholds obtained unscrupulously from SARS. The DA contends that Minister Nzimande has failed in his duty as a moral steward of taxpaye money, overseeing a department that neglected its mandate to serve South Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable students.

Minister Accountability

Despite numerous press conferences by Minister Nzimande, the public remains uninformed about how the R1.1 billion shortfall in funding will be addressed and why the NSFAS application process has been extended. This is particularly concerning given that 87,000 students might not be funded, and 11,000 students have yet to receive their 2023 funding.

Call for Change

The DA asserts that it is high time for President Ramaphosa to replace Minister Nzimande with a competent individual who genuinely prioritizes the best interests of students. The party suggests that this replacement may need to be sought outside the Tripartite Alliance.

Conclusion

Issued by Chantel King, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, on February 2, 2024, the DA call for an investigation and accountability underscores its commitment to ensuring transparency and fairness in the distribution of financial aid, ultimately advocating for the rights of South Africa’s students.

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