No action yet against Blade Nzimande following NSFAS exposé

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Prof Blade Nzimande. | Jacques Naude Independent Newspapers

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Prof Blade Nzimande. | Jacques Naude Independent Newspapers

Published Jan 14, 2024


Promises to root out corruption within the government will continue to ring hollow if President Cyril Ramaphosa refuses to take action on blatant criminal activity happening from the top down.

These were the sentiments expressed by organisations that were left dismayed that no action was taken and no mention of the fate of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande following the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) last week and Ramaphosa’s January 8 statement.

Various organisations have called for the removal of Nzimande from the helm of the higher education after damning evidence was brought forward that he (Nzimande), alongside his party, the SACP, and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board chairperson Ernest Khosa, had received kickbacks for tenders from NSFAS service providers.

Ramaphosa, in delivering the party’s January 8 statement to a packed Mbombela Stadium on Saturday, distanced the party from those who were corrupt, and those who committed serious crimes.

“Corruption in government, business and society is criminal activity. It detracts from the government’s ability to improve the conditions of those living in poverty and to transform society.”

The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers’ (NUPSAW) spokesperson, Neo Lebethe, said Ramaphosa and Parliament’s insistence to ignore the Nzimande matter was undermining society and showed they were not taking corruption seriously.

“This issue is too serious to ignore. The minister was supposed to have been instructed to step down pending the finalisation of all investigations and he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

“What’s worse is that the minister hasn’t even tried to produce a single piece of evidence to refute the allegations against him. Ramaphosa needs to start by getting rid of the rot and Blade is part of that rot,“ Lebethe said.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) also released damning voice recordings allegedly implicating the minister of higher education and training and the NSFAS board chairperson in graft.

According to reports, since the release of the recordings, Outa has called for Nzimande and Khosa to resign, to no avail.

Khosa, however, has seemingly heeded the call as he announced last week that he was taking a leave of absence following the allegations, which were further confirmed by NSFAS.

In response to Khosa’s decision, Nzimande remained unfazed and even went as far as commending him, before turning around and appointing Professor Lourens van Staden as the acting chairperson of NSFAS.

The minister announced on Sunday that Van Staden would also be tasked with expediting the appointment of the scheme’s new CEO. | The Star

[email protected]