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Political parties lay criminal charges against Nzimande, NSFAS board chair


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Political parties lay criminal charges against Nzimande, NSFAS board chair

Image of Dr Blade Nzimande
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande

9th January 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae
Creamer Media Senior Writer


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The Democratic Alliance (DA) and ActionSA on Tuesday laid criminal charges against Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande, for his alleged role in defrauding the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) through kickbacks paid to him, NSFAS board chairperson Ernest Khoza, and the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Last week, non-profit civil rights organisation the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said it had voice recordings containing “damning allegations about a patronage network in the Department of Higher Education, implicating Nzimande, Khoza, and several others”.


The organisation alleged that Nzimande and Khoza were involved in the fraudulent scheme coordinated by corrupt tenderpreneurs to loot NSFAS through irregular contracts.

Outa released voice recordings of two meetings between Khosa and a representative of a service provider, which revealed how service providers allegedly paid millions of rand in kickbacks to Nzimande and Khosa and at least R1-million to the SACP.


On Monday, Nzimande rejected the allegations in a media briefing, vowing to take legal action. He said he would voluntarily subject himself to the African National Congress’s ethics and integrity bodies.

Amid calls for him to step down, he stated that he was not guilty of corruption and added that there was no need for him to resign.

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Karabo Khakhau said that Nzimande squandered his opportunity to take the public into his confidence, on Monday.

“He provided no evidence to contradict Outa’s allegations and assure vulnerable students who depend on NSFAS or the public at large that he hasn’t wilfully risked their futures to enrich himself and his comrades,” said Khakhau.

ActionSA also rejected Nzimande’s “theatrical attempt at a press conference”, and said he evaded accountability through a “laughable tale” of being the victim of an elite conspiracy.

“Such delusions are unworthy of serious consideration,” said ActionSA Youth Forum chairperson Hluphi Gafane.

She explained that in undermining the principles of transparency and accountability, Nzimande resorted to invoking racial undertones to shield himself from scrutiny – “a tactic befitting someone caught red-handed with his grubby hands in the cookie jar”.

ActionSA is of the view that Nzimande lacked the authority to speak on behalf of poor students, owing to what the party calls a track record marred by a shameful combination of mismanagement, cronyism and corruption, which it says has only exacerbated the disenfranchisement of poor students.

Outa has also confirmed that criminal charges had been drawn up with regards to the leaked recordings against Nzimande, Khosa, Thula Ntumba, the directors of Coinvest as well as Coinvest Africa itself for corruption and bribery in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (No. 12 of 2004).

Outa said it would be sharing the report and recordings with the Auditor-General, the Public Protector, Werksmans Attorneys, the South African Revenue Service, National Treasury and the umbrella body for universities, Universities South Africa.

The report will also be given to the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation for oversight purposes, the organisation said.

Outa reiterated its call for Nzimande and Khosa to resign.

“If they don’t want to resign, President Cyril Ramaphosa must for once show that he is putting the country before his party and remove them from their positions,” the organisation said.


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