NSFAS offices in Wynberg. This is a government bursary and student loan institution. Reception area. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
NSFAS offices in Wynberg. This is a government bursary and student loan institution. Reception area. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Poor accounting records leave AG unable to assess NSFAS

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Feb 8, 2021

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Cape Town - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it was not surprised by the findings of Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke, on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

This after poor accounting records made it impossible for Maluleke to make a determination on whether the institution has indeed turned around, as its bosses have claimed.

In the entity's annual report for 2019/20 tabled to Parliament last week, the institution received a qualified audit for the financial year, which ended in March 2020.

However, due to poor accounting records, Maluleke could not ascertain whether NSFAS has recovered from the mismanagement and poor governance that has engulfed it for the past few years.

Nehawu's general secretary Zola Saphetha said the lack of credible information has hindered the auditor-general from making concrete findings, thus further concealing the rot that has characterised the institutions for years.

"As Nehawu, we are vindicated by the report of the auditor-general as it reinforces our long held assertion that the institution has been failing to fulfil its core mandate because most of its funds have been lost to irregular expenditure," said Saphethe.

He said the union has been on the forefront of highlighting the dire state of NSFAS and its role in disadvantaging many young people, who were yearning for education.

Saphethe said they would like to see NSFAS functioning properly, stable and being a capable institution that could be used as a vehicle for free higher education, and not as a loan scheme like it is in its current form.

He said, currently, NSFAS was doing the opposite of its mandate – which is to provide access to deserving students. Instead, it was failing students and leaving them with no prospect of getting qualifications.

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said NSFAS has a duty to bring about a clearly defined turnaround strategy in order to meet the high expectations and demands of the rising student population.

Makaneta said the recent findings by the auditor-general showed that there was still a long way to go in putting in place the correct mechanisms of accountability in accordance with the law.

SA Students Congress (Sasco) spokesperson Luvuyo Barnes said the student organisation reiterated its position that it would not tolerate lip service and will utilise all avenues, inclusive of the courts, to keep the government accountable.

The Cape Argus tried to reach to the NSFAS, however, the entity did not respond by the time of publication.

Cape Argus

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