ActionSA has joined the DA in filing criminal charges against Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Blade Nzimande and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board chairperson Ernest Khosa for allegedly contravening the Prevention and Combating Of Corrupt Activities Act.
In a statement on Tuesday, ActionSA Youth Forum leader Matthew George confirmed that the party had filed criminal charges against the pair who have been accused of soliciting bribes from NSFAS service providers.
Nzimande and Khosa have denied the allegations, following an exposé by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) last week.
George said the party’s complaint with the SAPS was in response to the allegations that Nzimande and Khosa were involved in a fraudulent scheme orchestrated by corrupt tenderpreneurs to loot the NSFAS.
He said the pair, in exchange for payments, had aided the protection of contractors in exchange for alleged kickbacks to secure lucrative contracts and shield themselves from scrutiny.
George said ActionSA could not accept Nzimande’s explanation given during a media briefing on Monday.
“ActionSA further rejects Nzimande’s theatrical attempt to evade accountability through a laughable tale of being the victim of an ‘elite’ conspiracy. Such delusions are unworthy of serious consideration.
“In undermining the principles of transparency and accountability, Minister Nzimande resorts to invoking racial undertones to shield himself from scrutiny – a tactic befitting someone caught red-handed with his grubby hands in the cookie jar.”
George said the minister had no authority to speak on behalf of the youth. This comes after the minister announced that universities should increase their fees for 2024.
“Furthermore, Minister Nzimande lacks the authority to speak on behalf of poor students, given his track record marred by a shameful combination of mismanagement, cronyism and corruption, which has only exacerbated the disenfranchisement of poor students.
“ActionSA is committed to ensuring that justice prevails for the nearly one million students who suffered as a consequence of this fraud and the corrupt dealings involving a syndicate of corrupt tenderpreneurs, government officials and public office bearers,” he said.
On Monday, during a live broadcast, DA leader John Steenhuisen vowed to pursue the matter through the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and criminally, as well as by mobilising student organisations and movements in order to hold Nzimande accountable.
“The DA, including through our student organisation, will initiate mass mobilisation campaigns at campuses across the country to force (Cyril) Ramaphosa to fire Nzimande.
“Finally, we are preparing criminal charges against Nzimande and briefing our legal team to declare the NSFAS board delinquent over the corrupt and irrational direct payment and accommodation tenders,” Steenhuisen said.
Also on Monday, the minister who refused to resign over the allegations, held a media briefing following the release of the report and leaked voice notes by Outa on Thursday.
Independent Media reported that according to Outa, the recordings reveal how service providers allegedly paid millions of rand in kickbacks to Nzimande and Khosa, as well as at least R1 million to the SACP, in return for contracts and protection for service providers.
“As said in my statement on January 5, I reserve my rights to take the necessary legal action. I have voluntarily decided that I am going to subject myself to the relevant legal processes and ethics bodies of the ANC and SACP. I wish to once again state that I have nothing to hide or fear,” Nzimande during the media briefing.