Nzimande and NSFAS scared to account – Chantel King

DA MP says minister’s failure to attend meeting undermines parliament

Minister Nzimande and NSFAS scared to account to Parliament

20 September 2023

Despite having two weeks to prepare feedback for the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, failed to attend the scheduled meeting touting an engagement with stakeholders as their pitiful excuse. Minister Nzimande and NSFAS’ failure not only undermines Parliament, but also the thousands of poor and vulnerable students dependent on the Scheme for funding.

The DA will request that the chairperson of the portfolio committee write to Chair of Chairs, Cedric Frolick, as well as to the Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to address the Minister’s failure to attend the committee, as well as him only informing the committee of this late the day before.

Today’s unanimous stance and anger by political parties was clearly expressed. However, we condemn the ANC members’ attempts to shield the Minister from accountability – the DA cannot condone blind loyalty at the expense of destitute students.

Furthermore, the Minister’s public relations stunt yesterday not only served to highlight his disregard for Parliament and the students he’s meant to serve, but also showed how completely out of touch he is with the reality of suffering students on the ground.

Many students still have not received their funds and are facing hunger and eviction, as well as the potential derailing of their futures.

It is clear that the NSFAS board has not managed to solve their information and communication technologies (ICT) and administrative challenges. They’ve had two years. If the board cannot suitably address students’ challenges and needs, it might be time for the board to be replaced with competent individuals that will put students first.

Yesterday, Minister Nzimande indicated that NSFAS received 1 131 419 funding applications, yet NSFAS told the committee that 2 142 888 applications were received. If the Minister and NSFAS cannot even report accurately, how are we expected to believe that they are able to address the serious problems vulnerable students are facing.

The secondment of Prof Laurens van Staden, Prof Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango and Luciano Kearns is noted and highlights the many shortcomings of the current board.

It is vital that the current student funding model is reviewed to ensure sustainable funding and that more students receive funding.

If Minister Nzimande and the NSFAS board cannot address the funding chaos, they must make way for competent individuals who can.

Issued by Chantel King, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, 20 September 2023