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Row heats up over South Africa’s student aid fund

Tensions rise in alleged corruption case as Nzimande backs NSFAS administrator

South Africa’s science minister has warned MPs on the country’s Parliamentary portfolio committee of higher education, science and technology that they should take care not to allow themselves to be used as a platform to discredit the outgoing administrator of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. 

Blade Nzimande issued the warning during a news conference on 26 November, in which he backed the scheme’s outgoing administrator, Randall Carolissen. “We are not saying the administrator is an angel but he has done a good job. All the matters that they are raising are matters that can be dealt with [internally],” Nzimande said.

The Parliamentary committee has vowed to investigate allegations of corruption, maladministration at the embattled student support agency following a raft of allegations against both the fund and its administrator, Carolissen, were raised over a series of committee hearings. 

On 7 November, the committee announced its unanimous decision to go ahead with the inquiry into the “administration and management” of the fund. It said it had received testimonies under oath from senior employees at NSFAS highlighting alleged mismanagement, corruption and nepotism. 

Carolissen, who also spoke during the 26 November conference, was defiant. He admitted that his tenure, which comes to an end at the end of the year, has been tough but insisted that he has done nothing wrong.