The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board chairperson, Ernest Khosa, who alongside Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has been accused of corruption, has taken special leave.
A report by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) claims Khosa and Nzimande received kickbacks from NSFAS service providers.
While Nzimande, who dismissed Outa’s claims as unfounded, has indicated that he would neither step down nor resign over the allegations, the NSFAS board announced that Khosa will take special leave.
The chairperson reiterated to the board that he had never received any financial gratification for his personal use or facilitated any for the minister of higher education, Science and Innovation or the South African Communist Party.
“The board chairperson also raised concerns about threats that have been made against his life and that of his family.
“The board takes this opportunity to thank Mr Khosa for his honourable, brave and responsible decision to voluntarily take leave of absence and hails his decision as a responsible and conscious step to advance good corporate governance, transparency and accountability.
“The board would like to emphasise that this decision should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt on the part of the chairperson,” the NSFAS board said in a statement.
The allegations against Khosa and Nzimande have resulted in DA leader John Steenhuisen calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa to axe the higher education minister.
Steenhuisen also accused Ramaphosa of attempting to sweep the allegations against Nzimande under the carpet.
However, addressing the media in Mpumalanga yesterday, Ramaphosa assured the nation that the allegations against Nzimande and Khosa would be ‘thoroughly’ investigated.
“It’s true that NSFAS has encountered a number of challenges that are being addressed, and the various allegations obviously are a matter of concern and are also being looked at. So, everything that has been put out and alleged has to be looked at.”
ActionSA Youth Forum called on the entire NSFAS board to step down.
“ActionSA believes that the conduct of the entire NSFAS board demands scrutiny, as they were all involved in the decision-making process that facilitated this fraud. This not only undermined the tertiary education sector, but also directly disadvantaged nearly a million students.
“Therefore, it is crucial to emphasise that while calls for the resignation of Minister Nzimande and the NSFAS board chairperson are justified, the entire board must also take responsibility and resign,” ActionSA Youth Forum chairperson Hluphi Gafane said.
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