ActionSA youth wing joins chorus calling for Nzimande’s head

ActionSA youth wing is pressing ahead with its criminal complaint against Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. 

This despite admitting to Sunday World that the party has no evidence to prove its case against Nzimande.

The youth wing’s call came as the South African Union of Students (SAUS) also called for Nzimande’s head over corruption allegations.

Leader of ActionSA Youth Forum Hlupi Gafane said during an interview that the youth wing will rely on the audio recordings said to be in the possession of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse. 

“⁠We have no information indicating that Nzimande himself is featured in the recordings as a participant in the recorded conversations,” said Gafane. 

She said the reason ActionSA youth wing had opened a case against Nzimande and Ernest Khosa, the board chairperson of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), was due to its belief that the duo worked in cahoots to milk the NSFAS coffers.

The party filed a criminal complaint under the contravention of Section 4 of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Activities Act, in which Gafane said the case was opened at Lyttelton police station in Pretoria on Tuesday.

“If the allegations of a cabinet minister receiving kickbacks are true, this is very serious and ActionSA deems it necessary for SAPS [SA Police Service] to investigate the matter,” said Gafane. 

Clandestine meetings

At the centre of the furore that threatens Nzimande’s political career are the recordings allegedly leaked by a whistleblower in which he claimed that Khosa, Thula Ntumba, the husband to Tsegofatso Ntumba who is the director of Coinvest, one of four service providers responsible for disbursing NSFAS funds, held a series of clandestine meetings.

The meetings were apparently discussing how tenders would be distributed to favour companies who would pay kickbacks to Nzimande, Khosa, and the now sacked NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo.

Legal firm Werkmans Attorneys is also brought into the picture as a company which was hand-picked on Ntumba’s instruction to investigate Nongogo’s alleged shenanigans and ensure that the process was politically managed.

Nzimande must fall

Meanwhile, the South African Union of Students (SAUS), an organisation representing all student representative councils in public higher education institutions, also said Nzimande should be shown the door and NSFAS board dissolved.

“Under the leadership of Dr Blade Nzimande and Dr Khosa students have suffered. The allegations against the minister and NSFAS board chair resonate with the experiences and challenges faced by students on the ground,” said Asive Dlanjwa, SAUS spokesperson.

“Since May, students have not received their benefits, which means they went to exams without meals and others without accommodation.”

He added that whether the allegations are true or not, it is the responsibility of law-enforcement agencies to determine whether there is a prima-facie case against Nzimande and others. 

About 20 000 students nationwide were not paid their allowances for 2023 because of the glitches in the NSFAS new payment system.

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