Please find attached soundbite by Chantel King MP.
The DA calls for an in-person meeting for the parliamentary portfolio committee meeting on higher education to evaluate and interrogate the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) reports on the National Skills Fund (NSF) and the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) system.
The reports were meant to be presented in Parliament this morning, but the meeting with the Department of Higher Education collapsed due to the Department’s inability to present the MTT reports on the review of the NSF, the forensic investigation of the NSF and a comprehensive funding model for the PSET system. This is a clear undermining of the oversight role of the committee. The committee charged the Minister for Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, with putting measures in place to ensure the release of these reports by the end of the week.
The committee rightfully rejected the Department’s poor excuses for why the reports were unavailable. The report by Nexus Forensic Services regarding its full-scale forensic investigation into the financial affairs of the NSF after the Auditor-General (AG) found that just under R5 billion is unaccounted for, was due June 2022. Similarly, the MTT report on student funding in the PSET sector was presented to the Cabinet in July this year.
The unabridged reports are required to fully interrogate the sustainability of fee free higher education, the slow pace to consider public private partnership funding model and the setting up a national student funding information and communication technologies (ICT) system encompassing multiple funding options for students. The student funding report will also give a clear understanding why President Cyril Ramaphosa instituted a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into the affairs of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Failure to present a credible and sustainable funding model in the sector exacerbate instability in the PSET sector and a skills fund that is directionless.
The acknowledgement of committee members that the SIU should have conducted the investigation into the NSF, is a vindication for the DA who raised this in committee and questions to the Minister.
The DA will continue to fight for accountability and transparency.