NSFAS: Pay back the money

2016-02-18 12:35
KZN Education MEC Senzo Mchunu

KZN Education MEC Senzo Mchunu

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Pietermaritzburg - Civil servants working in KwaZulu-Natal owe the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) nearly ­R700 million, and have been ordered by the KZN premier to cough up.

Premier Senzo Mchunu said that as the provincial government was forced to make budgetary cuts, it was time people employed by the state honoured their student debts.

“We are having to find money as a result of the #FeesMustFall and the 0% increases promised by the president ­[Jacob Zuma]. We have since ascertained that our own employees have yet to pay back any of the money they ­borrowed. We are saying, ‘You have jobs; it is time to pay back what you owe’. We will engage with them to help them work out repayment plans,” said Mchunu.

Towards the end of 2015, students across the country embarked on a 0% fees increase campaign, with marches to Parliament and the Union Buildings in Pretoria. President Zuma was forced to meet with student leaders across the ­political spectrum to hammer out an agreement.

According to the Office of the ­Premier, 22 729 provincial ­government employees across all departments owe a massive R679 988 683.

By far the biggest transgressors come from the Department of Education’s 15 663 staff members who are still ­indebted to NSFAS to the tune of almost R485 million. They are followed by the Department of Health with 3 962 ­employees owing over R112 million.

“This is a serious matter that I have put forward for discussion by all ­members of the executive council.

“Those who benefited must do the honourable thing and pay back the ­money, because there are thousands of students who are battling under these difficult economic conditions,” said Mchunu.

The premier was addressing the media at a special briefing after he officially opened the provincial lekgotla being held at the Department of Public Works’ conference facility in Durban.

“We are calling upon the private ­sector to also encourage their employees to pay back NSFAS funding and we believe that this will go a long way towards turning around the situation,” he said.

Mchunu said the youth needed to be fully developed, and making sure that funding was secure and debts honoured were two ways of meeting these goals.

“Our vision as the provincial ­government is for all young people to grow up safe, healthy, happy and ­resilient, and to have the opportunities and skills they need.

“Over the past five years the ­provincial government has spent more than R1,5 billion on bursaries awarded to needy students. The cumulative ­number of students that have benefitted from the bursary programme over the past five years is more than 7 000.

“We are committed to ensuring that our programmes on skills and youth ­development reach many young people across the province.”

Attempts to get comment from NSFAS yesterday were unsuccessful.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  nsfas

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