Nearly a year into his tenure as chief executive of the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Steven Zwane has been suspended with immediate effect. His suspension, amid allegations of maladministration, comes mere weeks after the resignation of Sizwe Nxasana as chairperson of the financial aid scheme.
Earlier this month, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said Zwane — a former chief operating officer at Barclays Africa — was hired illegitimately, accusing him of nepotism and demanded his resignation.
In a statement NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo confirmed Zwane’s suspension saying: “The suspension follows allegations of maladministration against Mr Zwane. To ensure fairness and allow the process to proceed uninhibited‚ Mr Zwane has been relieved from his duties pending the outcome of the investigation.”
It is unclear what the allegations of maladministration entail.
In August, Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor dissolved the NSFAS board and appointed Dr Randall Carolissen as administrator of NFSAS.
In May, the Mail & Guardian reported how nearly half of the students who had been approved for bursaries and grants by NSFAS, a number totalling 110 756, had not received their funding which led to protests at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, Maluti college in the Free State and the University of Limpopo.
Pandor said that NSFAS had failed to confirm students’ funding and disburse funding timeously.
In addition to reviewing governance at NSFAS, Carolissen’s duties include overseeing the opening of the 2019 application process and “all necessary” forensic investigations, address the institutions operational challenges and put in place management controls to ensure the 2019 student funding cycle is managed appropriately.