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OUTA calls for resignation of Higher Education Minister, following damning report

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By Ragheema Mclean

Last week, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) released an investigative report, accompanied by two leaked recordings, which claim that the Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, the National Student Financial Aid (NSFAS) Board Chairperson, Ernest Khosa, as well as the South African Communist Party (SACP), received kickbacks.

These kickbacks are related to the awarding of a lucrative tender to facilitate the direct NSFAS allowance payment system.

The leaked records suggested that service providers paid millions of rands to Nzimande and Khosa, with the South African Communist Party receiving R1 million. In return, tenders and protection for service providers were provided.

Additionally, OUTA’s investigation report came with calls for the minister and Khosa to hand in their resignations.

Meanwhile, Minister Nzimande addressed members of the media on Monday to dispute OUTA’s claims that he had received money related to the awarding of a lucrative NSFAS contract.

Nzimande lambasted OUTA and questioned their motive for releasing the reports. The minister said he is under the suspicion that OUTA is now working with disgruntled service providers whose contracts are set to be terminated.

The minister said:

“My suspicion is that the very same people OUTA was attacking initially before this investigation was made are now opportunistically colluding with the people they were attacking as having been corrupt because now there’s a bigger prize, which is the head of Blade Nzimande.”

Speaking on VOC’s Drive Time show, OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage said the current corruption investigation at NSFAS has been an ongoing saga that first started with the former NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo and exposed his mismanagement of the bursary scheme.

Duvenage clarified:

“Last year, we put out a report detailing several wrongdoings, and initially the Minister and the NSFAS Chairperson ignored and denounced it.”

“When they appointed Werkmans to do an investigation, the findings corroborated everything that we had said in our report.”

Furthermore, responding to Nzimande’s claims, Duvenage said that OUTA is not taking any service providers’ side in this matter and stressed that the organization gets its information from whistleblowers.

He explained:

“We work with whistleblowers, and people start giving us information, and that is how we got these two recordings in October last year.”

“We verified and authenticated the recordings and thereafter put out the report.”

Duvenage noted that OUTA is currently compiling an affidavit for the Hawks and the public protector regarding the investigation.

“We are also writing to President Ramaphosa to ask him to take serious action against Blade Nzimande for what we see as a conflict of interest in his department,” he added.

VOC News

Photo: HigherEduTrainingZA/X

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