Students protesting against new NSFAS payment system vow to camp outside Union Buildings

South Africa - Pretoria - 2 June 2023 - Pink roses in bloom in the Union Buildings gardens. Picture: Jacques Naude / African News Agency (ANA)

South Africa - Pretoria - 2 June 2023 - Pink roses in bloom in the Union Buildings gardens. Picture: Jacques Naude / African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 2, 2023


Johannesburg - Students protesting against the newly implemented online direct banking system by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have vowed to camp outside the lawns of the Union Buildings in Pretoria until someone heeds their call.

Students from various universities across Gauteng and other provinces have taken a stand against the continued implementation of the direct payment system and the various appointed service providers.

While the spotlight has been on the eZaga online banking service, they were appointed alongside Coinvest, Tenetech, and Norraco services in order to disperse funds to beneficiaries in universities and TVET colleges.

The students gathered in large numbers at the Union Buildings earlier today before making their way through the city to the offices of the Department of Higher Education and Training, demanding an audience with Minister Blade Nzimande.

Keamogetswe Masike, of the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) Student Representative Council (SRC), said students were unhappy with the continued payment of their allowances by the direct online banking system EZaga, as he alleged that they did not have the financial licence to operate in the financial sector.

"Our demands are quite clear; it can't be correct that a company that does not have a financial licence to operate is given the responsibility to facilitate the money of the poor.

"These companies are fallacious because we've done our research and realised that countless glitches and technical difficulties make it difficult for our students to access their allowances on time," he said.

"We are here to demand the attention of the minister, as we've exhausted all the demands with the university officials, and we believe that the only person who can assist us is the minister of higher education. We've committed not to leave any stone unturned until the minister comes to the ground to receive our memorandum."

Students from TUT, along with other student formations, have decried the direct payment system since early July; however, their cries gained momentum as students from UP joined the uproar.

Rikus Delport, the spokesperson for UP, said the university was aware of the march by students to voice their concerns and frustrations regarding the challenges they were facing with NSFAS.

"We understand the importance of addressing these issues and acknowledge the right of our students to express their grievances through peaceful demonstrations. As an institution dedicated to academic excellence and the well-being of our students, we empathise with the difficulties that some students may encounter in accessing financial support through NSFAS."

Masike said that following the clashes with the police at the department's offices during the day, the students had returned to camp outside the lawns of the Union Buildings until President Cyril Ramaphosa came to address their grievances.

"It's very cold, but this is a serious matter; we can't have almost 6 000 students either not being paid or having some of their money missing. So we will continue to wait until someone takes us seriously," he added.

The Star

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