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NSFAS Should Distribute Funds Instead of Issuing Tenders

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NSFAS Should Distribute Funds Instead of Issuing Tenders

NSFAS Should Distribute Funds Instead of Issuing Tenders. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), responsible for managing over R46 billion in grants, faces mounting corruption allegations related to tender processes. The civil rights NGO, Accountability Now, led by advocate Paul Hoffman, advocates for a significant shift in the distribution of funds to students.

Board Chair Leave amid Corruption Probe

Ernest Khosa, NSFAS board chairperson, voluntarily takes leave pending an investigation into allegations revealed in an Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) report. The report implicates service providers in multimillion-rand tenders for direct student payments, alleging bribery involving Khosa, higher education minister Blade Nzimande, and the SACP (South African Communist Party).

Past Irregularities and Leadership Changes

Prior to the current scandal, NSFAS dismissed former CEO Andile Nongogo after a report by Werksmans Attorneys and advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi outlined irregularities in a tender awarded to four companies. The latest Outa report extends the allegations to include malfeasance by Nzimande and Khosa.

Ditching Tenders for Direct Distribution

Advocate Paul Hoffman argues for a fundamental change by eliminating tenders and entrusting NSFAS employees with the direct distribution of funds. He criticizes the irregular subcontracting of this responsibility, emphasizing that NSFAS staff should be directly involved in dispensing grants to students.

Legal Actions by Political Parties

The EFF, ActionSA, and the DA have initiated criminal cases against Nzimande and Khosa in response to the corruption allegations. The spotlight is on the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to investigate, with Hoffman urging swift action and a potential criminal prosecution to address the gravity of the situation.

See also  NSFAS Still Accounts For Its Budgets

Minister Denial and the Way Forward

Minister Nzimande vehemently denies the allegations, asserting that he has not diverted department funds or received personal kickbacks. As the Hawks and NPA take center stage, the hope is for a thorough investigation and, if warranted, a swift criminal prosecution to address the concerns raised by the corruption allegations.

Conclusion

The ongoing corruption scandal at NSFAS underscores the need for immediate and comprehensive reform. Advocates like Paul Hoffman emphasize that a direct distribution approach can help curb corruption, ensuring that funds reach deserving students without unnecessary intermediaries. The outcomes of the investigations and legal actions initiated by political parties will likely shape the future of NSFAS and its critical role in supporting students’ education.

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