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Nzimande pleads innocence, calls for ‘genuine’ evidence following Outa report

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande

8th January 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae

Creamer Media Senior Writer

     

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Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande assured citizens that he has never used any money from any of his department’s entities for the purpose of funding the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Nzimande was briefing the media on the claims made in an Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) report on this and related governance issues at the Department of Higher Education and Training, calling for “genuine evidence” to be made available.

Last week Outa called for the resignation of Nzimande and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board chairperson Ernest Khosa.

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

This was done in return for tenders and protection for service providers.

The recordings and Outa’s accompanying report are the latest bombshells in exposing corruption and mismanagement at NSFAS.

Nzimade explained that the SACP has already made its stance known on the “false allegations” contained in the Outa report and had rejected the allegations with “the contempt they deserve”.

“I also wish to place it on record that I do a lot of party political fundraising, especially for the SACP, as is the case I am sure with leaders of all political parties. However, with the strict guidance from the SACP I am not permitted to raise funds from entities under my departments,” he said.

Nzimande said that he was “taking the initiative” to go to the integrity committee of the African National Congress and what is called the central ethics committee of the SACP to account and place “his side of the story”.

“…But cooperating with any law enforcement agency I do not have a problem because I have no fear,” he said.

He noted that the publishing of the report and leaking of the recording was “calculated” to disrupt the smooth start of the academic year and said it had no regard for the “plight and well-being” of poor and working class students.

“In any case, an organisation such as Outa doesn’t care about ordinary poor black South Africans. [It is] an organisation of the elite that serves the interests of the elite,” he said.

Nzimande said he would meet with the NSFAS board on Wednesday to receive news of progress on the 2024 application process, finalisation of the 2023 disbursement and the implementation of the pilot project student accommodation reforms.

Edited by Sashnee Moodley
Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

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