The South African Students Congress (Sasco) has vowed to take all the necessary steps, including mass action against the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for failure to disburse outstanding 2023 allowances to students.
The call came after the student organisation revealed that it was dismayed to learn that there were at least 20 000 students who were still awaiting their NSFAS allocation for 2023.
During a recent briefing, Sasco president Vezinhlanhla Simelane, said the organisation was “disgusted” that out of 20 000 students, only 9 128 had been paid at the end of 2023, after their issues were resolved.
Although the financial aid scheme gave assurances that the outstanding student payments would allegedly be paid out as part of the 2024 financial cycle, Simelane said they “vehemently rejected” this proposal.
“Yet again we call for the immediate payment of the outstanding allowances before the close of the registration period. We will be robust and relentless in fighting against the injustices of the system showing no favouritism or protectionism towards those that abuse their responsibilities and stand as gatekeepers to the doors of higher education and training.
“NSFAS and the Department of Higher Education and Training officials have a hefty responsibility ahead of them, and it must be noted that Sasco will not tolerate any failures with regards to the execution of these responsibilities. We are committed to taking all necessary steps, including mass action to ensure students are assisted correctly and within a reasonable period,” stressed Simelane.
The organisation similarly distanced itself from any person embroiled in allegations of improper conduct, misappropriation of funds or corruption.
The bursary scheme has faced backlash, following a crippling string of IT challenges, and “improper conduct” by its former CEO and payment delays which were raised by students from various institutions including Tshwane University of Technology, the University of Pretoria and the University of Limpopo to name a few.
During mid-October, NSFAS announced it had cancelled its contracts with four service providers that were implicated in wrongdoing with the student bursary scheme’s now-former CEO Andile Nongogo.
The companies were tasked with the scheme’s new direct payment system to provide students their monthly living allowances for essentials, such as food, transport and hygiene products.
NSFAS chairperson Ernest Khoza also announced his departure from the scheme following damning revelations of his collusion with NSFAS service providers to receive kickbacks and subvert investigative processes into mismanagement of state funds.
Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande has also been been implicated in the saga.
Despite the pressure on Nzimande to vacate office in light of the allegations levelled against him, he has instead remained mum on his fate. however, he did announce the appointment of Professor Lourens van Staden as the acting NSFAS chairperson.
goitsemang [email protected]