South African Students Congress

S. Minister Nzimande presiding over a long-drawn-out crisis of governance at NSFAS

20 July 2015

The South African Students' Congress (SASCO) is disappointed and aggravated by the neglect of constitutional responsibility by the Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr. Bonginkosi Emmanuel (Blade) Nzimande as it relates to the NSFAS board.

In terms of the NSFAS Act, the Minister is responsible for the appointment of the NSFAS board and its Chairperson. However, since the end of term of office of Zamayedwa Sogayise on 15 December 2014, the NSFAS board has not had a chairperson. The Minister knew that the term of office of the former chair was ending, and he knew he was not going to renew his term, and yet elected not to appoint a succeeding Chair. This is part of the fiduciary responsibilities of the Minister in keeping with good governance. What angers us most is that Minister Nzimande, knows how important this entity is to the working class and poor of our country.

What is most concerning for us is that during the periods 15 December 2014 to 12 March 2015, at the most critical period of NSFAS, the board did not have any Chair or an interim Chair. During this period the CEO had to double as a Chairperson of the board. This presented serious governance and management deficiencies in this institution that manages billions of Rands belonging to the working class and poor.

To make matters worse than they are, the Minister appointed one, student expeller and victimizer, Professor Themba Mosia as acting Chair of the board.  We reject the appointment of this fellow not only because he is well known for his anti student behavior, including the expulsion of a student leader permanently from higher education. He is also the current Chairperson of the Council of Higher Education and Deputy Vice Chancellor at the untransformed University of Pretoria, responsible for student affairs.  This individual cannot handle three critical institutions in our higher education landscape and give sufficient effort to all. We also do not trust that he will and is having the best interest of students as he holds this portfolio, especially with his anti-student record.

SASCO is concerned that the Minister of Higher Education has entrusted this individual and we believe it is precisely against the advice of the student movement.
We are more concerned about the appointment of the new board which is against the provision of the NSFAS board that puts it clearly as a requirement that at least three of the sitting board members of NSFAS should have been nominated by national student organizations. SASCO fought for this provision to be enacted and will be the first to defend the gains of the progressive student movement.

The above-mentioned concerns are as a result of our growing impatience as students of South Africa with the slow pace of the implementation of Free Education. This is fundamentally due to the failure by the Minister to speedily transform NSFAS to become the midwife of Free Quality Education. The inefficiencies in the administration of NSFAS are as a result of its governance and management challenges of the past. We cannot wait for the collapse of this important institution before we raise our concerns. So many of our institutions and colleges are suffering because of the NSFAS crisis in our country. At least what we would expect from the Minister to ensure an institutional set up that is stable and meeting the minimum requirements of law.

SASCO calls for the immediate appointment of the NSFAS board, consistent with the provision of law. We call on the Minister to appoint a Chairperson of the board urgently. We express our opposition to the appointment of Professor Mosia as Chair; in fact we do not understand the obsession of the Minister in appointing him in two critical higher education structures. We view Professor Mosia as the epitome of the type of institutional managers that are anti student and therefore anti-transformation

The Minister of Higher Education and Training must act with urgency, otherwise SASCO will be left with no choice but to seriously doubt the abilities of the leadership at 123 Francis Baard Street Pretoria.

For more information contact,

Ntuthuko Makhombothi on 071 875 2209, SASCO President
Luzuko Buku on 071 879 3258, Secretary General