State looking at ways to convert student loans to bursaries

2011-01-10 10:37

The government intended to look into the possibility of converting student loans into bursaries, ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said today.

“We will also look at students who have received loans from other institutions,” he said in a radio interview on SAfm.

His comments follow President Jacob Zuma’s January 8 statement during the ANC’s 99th anniversary celebrations at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

Zuma announced in his speech on Saturday that students at public universities in their final year who had received loans from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme would have these converted into bursaries, but only if they passed.

“This will also cover their living expenses. If bursaries need to be expanded, we will listen to views,” Mthembu said.

He said on a broader front, education, health and land reform would be made government priorities.

“It will be structured in the ANC lekgotla this year. I don’t know why people are saying what’s being said is not new. These are new initiatives.”

On jobs and social grants, Mthembu agreed there was a need for a social partnership between the government, labour and business. The government planned on following the New Growth Path, concentrating on various sectors of the economy.

“The ideal is to remove people from social grants when they are unemployed but you cannot offload people from grants when they are unemployed or unemployable. If we didn’t have the grants, we will not be stable because learners won’t be able to go to schools.

“This is not an ANC problem alone; it’s a country problem,” he said.

“We are in alliance because we agree with everything in the Freedom Charter. In this way, we are not cheese and chalk,” he said on reported factions within the tripartite alliance, adding that differences should not be aired in public.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said on Saturday that Zuma’s speech was a symptom of a deeply divided organisation.

“President Zuma’s speech reflects the delusion, division and ideological backwardness that characterise the ANC today.

“Denial of South Africa’s reality, as part of a competitive global economy, as well as the closed, crony control of the dominant clique of the ruling party, will prevent our country from fulfilling its great potential,” she said.

Zille said Zuma’s repeated commitment to Marxist ideology undermined his stated aim of job creation through meaningful economic transformation. His policies had led to economic decline and mass impoverishment.

In his SAfm interview, Mthembu responded to a caller’s question on ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s financial affairs: “Julius is not superrich, he earns a salary [in the ANC] and he might have a business here and there, but he’s not superrich. He is struggling like everyone else.”

On Saturday Malema said the only way to free the country from poverty was by placing assets such as mines in the hands of the state.

“Nationalisation is the solution to the problems we are facing,” he said.

He took aim at big business, especially white business owners.

“We cannot accept the economy being in the control of white males.”

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