MORE than 30 000 students have signed a petition demanding that the Higher Education, Science and Innovation minister Blade Nzimande extend the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allowances to February next year.
The petition, created by Lungah Mkhize, is a voice for students appealing to the minister to reconsider his decision and extend allowances.
“Nzimande has announced that the November allowance payment was the last one and even urged students to use it wisely,” said Mkhize.
South African Union of Students president Misheck Mugabe said the union’s position was clear that students must continue receiving allowances during the extension of the academic year.
“We have written to the minister in that regard and we are waiting for a response.”
SA Students Congress spokesperson Luvuyo Barnes, said the organisation rejected gazette 43 772 by Nzimande and has called on the government to immediately make the funds available.
Barnes said student leaders had a long-standing agreement between Nzimande and NSFAS administrator Randall Carolissen, that there should be continued disbursement of allowances (accommodation and meals) to all NSFAS beneficiaries given the disruption to the academic project in 2020.
Nzimande’s spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said: “We did indicate that we will continue to pay allowances as per the institution closing dates.”
Students’ plea came in light of the EFF calling for the resignation of Carolissen, amid the allegations of maladministration and corruption at the entity, claiming that he had turned NSFAS into a “mafia operation”.
Vuyani Pambo, EFF spokesperson said: “We will approach the Public Protector to investigate all reported misconduct and ensure NSFAS is rescued from the hands of a glorified gangster.”
Mugabe said as a student union, they were not supporting that the administrator should resign. “He has done well to stabilise NSFAS and created efficiency in the disbursement of allowances to students.”