Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande dissolves NSFAS board with immediate effect

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande. Picture: Jacques Naude / Independent Newspapers

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande. Picture: Jacques Naude / Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 12, 2024


Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has dissolved the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board with immediate effect.

Nzimande conducted an urgent meeting with the board on Thursday and informed them that their positions had become redundant with immediate effect.

According to a statement, the department said that the decision was made to dissolve the board as part of its interventions to improve the organisational efficiency of NSFAS.

Nzimande said that the scheme would be placed under administration.

Nzimande is expected to conduct a "special media briefing" on Sunday to explain his reasons for dissolving the NSFAS Board.

The now axed board members include board chairperson Ernest Khosa and board members Ms Melosi Baloyi, Ms Jullie Beya, Prof Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango, Mr Nceba Maxwell Fuzani, Mr Sibonelo Cyril Madiba, Mr Lucky Masuku, Dr Reshma Mathura, Mr Bamanye Matiwane, Prof Pumela Msweli, Ms Lisa Seftel, Mr Yonke Twani, Prof Laurance van Staden and Mr Sanele Zondi.

Paying student allowances

Earlier this week, the NSFAS received criticism from students for their delays in paying out student allowances.

Universities had temporarily taken over the responsibility of facilitating the payment of allowances for February and March. According to the entity, this was due to challenges experienced at the beginning of the academic year which led to delays in receiving registration data from the institutions.

As of April 1, fintech companies eZaga Holdings, Tenet Technology, Noracco Corporation and Coinvest Africa resumed administration services as they are still contracted with NSFAS.

Last month, the entity had explained that there was a legal process of terminating the contracts and it was also still looking for a long-term solution of how the direct payment system could continue after the companies are gone.

Students took to social media to express their frustrations with delays especially in institutions onboarded by eZaga.

Vezinhlanhla Simelane, the president of the South African Students Congress (Sasco) said that the four fintech companies were not a good fit and were failing students.

“We are taken aback by the hypocritical decisions that the NSFAS board communicated to the public about various funding matters which include, among others, distribution of student allowances. It has been clearly indicated and substantiated that the four companies are not fit for the task of distributing students’ allowances,” Simelane said.

“Our stance has been that student allowances should be directly paid to students with the sole purpose of eliminating the middleman approach. The opportunistic approach of commercialising NSFAS has proven to be a disaster and an enemy of progress, ” he said.

On Thursday he applauded the decision by Nzimande to dissolve the board.

Simelane, said it was a victory for students who depend on NSFAS funding.