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After a leaked recording by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) implicated Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) board chair Ernest Khosa in misusing funds, the Democratic Alliance (DA) accuses President Cyril Ramaphosa of being reluctant to take action, calling him a “coward”.

Leader of the DA, John Steenhuisen, has said that it must be remembered that the corrupt activities allegedly committed by Nzimande and Khosa were not “victimless crimes”.

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He said that the leaders had actually deepened the struggle of the country’s students and “stolen their dreams”.

Taking action

Steenhuisen said in reaction to this – and in light of President Ramaphosa’s reluctance to act –  the DA will be taking action against Minister Nzimande and Khosa in its own capacity, which included bringing criminal charges against Minister Nzimande.

“We are preparing criminal charges against Nzimande and briefing our legal team to declare the Nsfas board delinquent over the corrupt and irrational direct payment and accommodation tenders,” he declared.

He said the legal action was in keeping with the findings of the State Capture Commission, which recommended that it should become standard practice to declare board members involved in capture and corruption as delinquent.

He also said that the DA will immediately submit a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain a copy of the Werksmans report into the awarding of the direct payment tenders.

Broaden SIU investigation

“We will write to Ramaphosa and the Special Investigating Unit to demand that the scope of the SIU’s investigation be broadened to include the alleged kickbacks to Nzimande and the SACP,” he said.

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He added that the DA would also initiate a mass mobilisation campaign at tertiary campuses across the country where students will come together to force President Ramaphosa to fire Minister Nzimande.

Nzimande unlikely to be fired

Political analyst Sandile Swana, operating independently, suggested, however, Ramaphosa was likely not inclined to take action against his steadfast ally, in an attempt to solidify unity within the tripartite alliance leading up to the upcoming elections.

“From a political standpoint, it seems improbable for Ramaphosa to take measures against Nzimande, who serves as a crucial political support and guardian for a president grappling with insecurity.

“Instead, he might advocate the completion of ongoing investigations, call upon parliament to fulfill its oversight responsibilities, and seek input from the Hawks in addressing the situation,” remarked Swana.

 Additional reporting by  Brian Sokutu