TUT SRC decries delayed NSFAS allowances

Published Jul 12, 2023


Johannesburg - The Tshwane University of Technology’s Campus Student Representative Council (CSRC) has rejected the continued use of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s online digital banking service, eZAGA.

This comes as the student council alleges that the third-party financial service provider has failed to pay student meal allowances due to over 14 000 students for the past two months, despite the academic programme being in full swing.

According to the CSRC president, Keamogetswe Masike, the student council was concerned by the delayed implementation of the direct payments to students by eZaga, which they likened to a “money laundering” company.

Masike said thousands of the university’s students were busy with their exams, while others were due to register for the second semester, yet their meal allowances for June and July had yet to be disbursed by the company.

He said following the background check they had conducted, they were of the view that the company, tasked with facilitating billions of rand to the poorest of students, was ill-equipped to handle the task at hand.

“As we’re students we’re questioning the rationale at the national level behind this choice because there were better-experienced banks who also bid to take over the payments, and yet a company that was only registered in 2017 was picked as the best choice.

“NSFAS should not restrict students on which service providers to use. At the end of the day, we don’t care who is appointed as long as they are able to pay the students on time, and this company cannot,” he added.

To make matters worse, he alleged the charges levied by the company were too high for students to contend with.

Mashike added that the university had failed to intervene and that discussions with NSFAS had also not borne any fruit, hence the call by the CSRC for the university Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, to organise a meeting with Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, to resolve the situation.

The university announced to stakeholders that there were sporadic student protests at some of its campuses, which followed the announcement by NSFAS that payments would be made directly to students.

The university’s Phaphama Tshitsikhawe said while the direct payment was implemented on July 1, it had come to the university’s attention that several student groups had already raised concerns with the education ministry about the system.

“The Tshwane University of Technology is working closely with the affected students, their organisations, Universities South Africa, and NSFAS so as to find a speedy, viable and sustainable solution.

“At this midpoint and pivotal juncture in the academic year, the university calls upon all stakeholders to do everything in their power to safeguard the academic project.”

In other reports, the South African Students Congress also raised concerns about the direct payment method, which it alleged was not user-friendly.

According to the student organisation, many students had complained about exorbitant bank charges, which were higher than those of commercial banks, with roughly 15% of student allowances swallowed by bank charges.

While the organisation said it was not against an alternative payment method for allowances, it expected the funding scheme to use one that was convenient for students.

The Star