‘I will not resign’, says Blade Nzimande, who plans to challenge corruption allegations by Outa

Minister Blade Nzimande briefs the media on the Outa report, accusing him of being involved in corrupt activities within NSFAS. Picture: GCIS

Minister Blade Nzimande briefs the media on the Outa report, accusing him of being involved in corrupt activities within NSFAS. Picture: GCIS

Published Jan 8, 2024


Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has challenged the corruption allegations made by a civic group, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), that he and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board chairperson Ernest Khosa received millions of rand in kickback payments from service providers.

In a public briefing called by Nzimande on Monday, he stated that he was not guilty of corruption and added that there was no need for him to resign. He said he intended to challenge the allegations against him legally.

“As the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, I have never used any money from any of my departments’ entities for the purpose of funding the South African Communist Party (SACP).

“Nor have I received any personal kickbacks from NSFAS or its entities,” he said.

Outa last week said it had leaked voice recordings containing “damning allegations about a patronage network in the Department of Higher Education, implicating the minister, NSFAS chair, and several others”.

The civic organisation alleged that the minister and board chairperson were involved in the fraudulent scheme orchestrated by corrupt tenderpreneurs to loot NSFAS through irregular contracts.

Outa said it had released voice recordings of two meetings between Khosa and a representative of a service provider, which revealed how service providers allegedly paid millions of rand in kickbacks to Nzimande and Khosa and at least R1 million to the SACP.

On Monday, Nzimande rejected the allegations, vowed to take legal action, and told the media that he would voluntarily subject himself to the African National Congress (ANC) ethics and integrity bodies.

“My conscious is clear, and I have nothing to hide or fear,” he said.

Nzimande labelled Outa’s report as “malicious and largely false”, saying the allegations were linked to a “fight-back campaign” in which Outa was also “opportunistically colluding” with the very same people it was once investigating.

“I do a lot of political fundraising; however, with strict guidance from SACP, I'm not permitted to raise funds from entities under my department or knowingly from service providers in that space.

“The allegations against me and attacks on Mr Khosa are part of a nefarious fight-back campaign,” he said.

He added that since the allegations were made public, Khosa had received threats against his life.

“Just because we're ministers does not make us fair game. I'm seriously looking at my own rights that are being violated in this process of being faced by allegations that are spurious.

“Being a minister is becoming a job that is so terrible,” he said.

Later in his briefing, when probed by a journalist on whether he would resign from his position, Nzimande said, “I'm not going to resign. Why should I resign? I have no need to resign.”

He said he was seeking an urgent meeting with the NSFAS board for Wednesday to discuss the matter following the allegations.