NSFAS board head quits amid missing student payments

  • The chairperson of the NSFAS board of directors, Ernest Khoza, has resigned.
  • This comes amid, as Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says, recurring issues in paying beneficiaries their allowances.
  • NSFAS has so far paid over R1 billion to university students since the start of the academic year.

Buried in a long statement where the Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande apologises to students over the many ills of the scheme and its non-payment to beneficiaries is a one-paragraph announcement that the chair of the NSFAS board Ernest Khoza has resigned.

Khoza had taken a leave of absence at the beginning of the year as he was implicated in corruption allegations leveled against him by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA). Initially, Khoza was supposed to take a 30-day leave of absence to deal with the allegations, but had been nowhere to be found since January, and made no further public appearances for the scheme.

The resignation of the former chair comes as NSFAS is facing, as Nzimande describes a “recurring problem of non-payment of student allowances.” In particular, it seems beneficiaries at TVET colleges across the country are experiencing consistent non-payment of their allowances.

“Given the magnitude of this problem and its negative impact on the well-being of students and the continued functioning of our post school education and training system, in the next few days, the Minister will be taking a series of additional and decisive steps, all of which are intended to have the problem of non-payment of allowances resolved as a matter of priority,” the ministry said in the statement.

It is now three months into the academic year, and the department has yet to indicate a timeline for any changes to come into effect. Nzimande had apparently met with the Director-General of NSFAS on Thursday, and tasked him to meet with NSFAS management to see that all outstanding allowances be paid.

This should also include the outstanding allowances of NSFAS beneficiaries at the University of Johannesburg, which by no fault of their own have had to deal with significantly reduced payments compared to other NSFAS students since the beginning of the year.

“The Minister also wishes to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to all affected students for the inconvenience that they have been experiencing, as a result of the non-payment of allowances,” the statement continues.

As of 15th March, the department says NSFAS has paid over R1 billion to students in universities and R147 million to students at TVET colleges. It seems the scheme is using both the direct payment system (the four fintech companies) and institutions simultaneously to disburse allowances to beneficiaries.

The scheme is now left without a chair for its board and a permanent chief executive.

[Image – CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED GovernmentZA on Flickr]


About Author


Related News