Johannesburg - The National Freedom Party (NFP) has called on the government to take full responsibility for the situation regarding the R14.1 million that was "accidentally" deposited into the account of a Walter Sisulu University student, and to stop shifting blame.
"We, yet again as a country, find ourselves in a panic mode because of government obsession with outsourcing essential services in this country. It was the case with Sassa-CPS and now this. What is of concern is the government's remaining mum over the matter instead of taking responsibility for their role in all this crisis, government, through NSFAS distances itself and places the blame entirely on the university", said NFP spokesperson Sabelo Sigudu in a statement on Thursday.
The NFP said they strongly believed that government's failure to ensure that all universities in the country paid National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) beneficiaries through its own paymaster system was what had led to this crisis.
"Had the Department of Higher Education and Training ensured that NFSAS is responsible for administration of payment of all loans to students, instead of outsourcing this service, this could have been avoided,"Sigudu said.
The party said that they were also concerned about the impact government's obsession with outsourcing would have on the student's reputation going forward.
"Ms Mani is now classified and labeled by some quarters of our society as a thief and fraudster who stole R818 000 from NFSAS and she will have to repay that amount with interest once she starts her career. We are opposed to her having to pay back any cent of the money as it was not of her own making that the money landed up in her account in the first place. Those responsible for the error - government and its incompetent outsourcing partner appointed through the university under the minister's watch should pay the amount not her," said Sigudu.
The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, had on Thursday condemned the incorrect payment into the account of the student.
“This debacle is wholly unacceptable and serious action should be taken against all those responsible as soon as all the facts of the matter are established. In this light, I have instructed NSFAS, supported by officials from the Department to urgently get to the bottom of the matter, with a view of ensuring that wherever the problems may lie, this will never be repeated again,” the minister said in a statement.
The payment was allegedly made in June into the student’s account by the NSFAS. The student alleges that she reported the transaction and was not assisted. It has been reported that she then used around R800,000 of the funds before it was noticed earlier this month.
The department of Higher Education and Training said that the error, allegedly by a service provider at the university, occurred during a payment run to 3,500 students at the institution who are supported by the NSFAS.