By Gaby Ndongo
Chairman and board member of the National Student Funding Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Sizwe Nxasana has resigned in the midst of upset at the University of Venda (Univen).
Nxasana, who is a chartered accountant, says his decision to step down from the position is due to “extreme strain”, News24 reported on Thursday.
“Since December 2016, the NSFAS mandate and funding obligations increased exponentially, placing extreme strain on the organisation’s systems and processes,” he said in a statement.
“I informed the Minister of Higher Education and Training of my resignation on Monday, August 6, and offered my support to ensure an orderly handover process,” Nxasana added.
The strain emanates from the scheme’s current state of dealing with old and new procedures such as that of funding recurring beneficiaries and converting loans to bursaries.
These efforts are meant to ensure free higher education as announced by Former President, Jacob Zuma, in December. Zuma made the announcement after dismissing the findings of the Heher Commission report, which deemed the provision of free higher education to not be feasible.
His resignation follows the Minister of Higher Education and Training’s, Naledi Pandor’s, decision to put NSFAS applications on hold until payment of the backlogs for the 2017 and 2018 academic years are settled.
These backlogs are coupled by a number of beneficiaries not receiving their allowances. This resulted in protests that have since turned violent at Univen and have brought the institution to a standstill. Students at the University say they have not received their allowances since February of 2018.
In an interview with 702’s Clement Manyathela on Wednesday, the 8th of August, the University’s SRC President, Gcina Mhlabane, said: “Our cry was [for] the allowances for students who have been approved for funding but have never received their allowances.”
Nxasana served as the CEO of FirstRand from 2006 to 2015 until he was appointed to his position by the previous Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande in 2015.
Reporting by Gaby Ndongo; Editing by Xiletelo Mabasa