By FORTUNE NDLANGAMANDLA | 2020-01-12
Students in some of the country’s tertiary institutions are fuming over government’s failure to keep promise of paying them their allowances.
The Sunday Observer, last Sunday quoted the Ministry of Labour and Social Security Communications Officer Nompilo Mncina saying that the first year students who had not been getting their allowances for the past five months would get them starting from January 6 to 10.
She said payment was done on January 3. “First year students will receive their allowances from the 6th to the 10th of January 2020,” she promised.
When drawn to discuss the ‘big lie,’ Mncina said she was on leave and referred all questions to her superior Principal Secretary (PS) Thulani Mkhaliphi.
The failure by government to pay students their allowances was not new as they were first promised that they would receive them in November last year.
The affected students are enrolled in institutions like the University of Eswatini (UNESWA), Eswatini Christian Medical University (ECMU), Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT), William Pitcher College (WPC) as well as Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU), to name a few.
Also affected are UNESWA postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) students.
The Students Representative Councils (SRCs) were not happy with such dishonesty by government.
This is not the first time government has been accused of misleading the public regarding the payment of allowances.
On November 18, government issued a statement claiming that books and uniform allowances would have been paid from November 15 and all students were expected to have received their allowances by November 20.
The statement also added that the normal monthly student allowances would be paid as scheduled on November 30. However, government failed to keep that promise. LUCT SRC President Sibusiso Mathebula; “it is true the government failed to deliver on its promise. As students who have seen how government handles students matters, I am not surprised, I must say I saw this coming.” Mathebula said PS Mkhaliphi informed them that the ministry encountered a system failure on processing the payments due to the high number of payments made in the past few weeks.
“The ministry informed us that they do not make payments, but they use First National Bank (FNB) as their distributor to pay and forward to other banks. for that reason we find it hard to believe what the ministry is saying, we find the ministry failing the students for the third time,” he said.
The president said SRC communicated with the students about the matter and find it difficult to maintain peace among the students and the ministry. He said this was because students were tired of taking lies from the ministry as they had been postponing the payments from October last year.
“We understand very well the pressure faced by the students as they have a lot of bills to settle, including those they owe from last year. We do not understand and accept the excuses from the ministry,” Mathebula lamented.
The leader said as the SRC, they urge the ministry to stop making excuses and take the task of paying students seriously. William Pitcher President Ayanda Zwane also confirmed that government had not paid the first years even a cent. He stated that the SRC had not received any explanation why the ministry had failed to live up to its promise.
“I'm not sure whether the ministry broadcasted the reasons on radio just like it does in some issues,” he said.
Zwane said the SRC was waiting for tomorrow (January 13); registration day for the second semester. He said this would assist the SRC to have access to the student body coffers because they need money as they pursue the matter.
Further, Zwane said they hope to get advise from students on how to deal with this matter.
UNESWA SRC President Lunga Dlamini; “Some media houses only interview the PS and forget about student leaders. I condemn such an act from such a highly respected entity. I call for balanced news in the media. To me the PS has communicated nothing but on social media he complains about technology failure and I wouldn't get into details of that since I study agriculture not IT.” Zwane said due to government’s misleading information, students now blame the SRC and call them failures since they could not ‘push’ the minister to deliver.
“I don't blame them, I understand their frustration as they have debts to deal with,” he said.
He said most of them were at the verge of being kicked out of their rental houses by their landlords since the latter assumed that students had been paid their allowances.
He said what made things worse was that after not keeping the promise, the PS did not make a public statement to correct his blunder.
ECMU SCU Assistant Secretary General Samkelo Dlamini also confirmed that first years had not yet received their allowances despite the promise by the ministry.
“When I try to reach out to the PS over the phone he does not pick up when I text him he does not respond, when we go to the ministry to request for answers they say they have not yet received a go-ahead from their superiors,” Dlamini said. He stated that it was not just allowances issue as ECMU students have not yet received their practical and project allowances.
“The ministry demands a write-up from the university which was given to them last year yet the students will be going for their attachments on Monday and projects have already begun yet other institutions have received these allowances. when we reach out to the ministry they tell us that senior officials were best to deal with the matter. The senior officials claim to be busy every time we reach out to them,” Dlamini narrated.
SANU SRC Secretary General (SG) Xolani Khulekani Maseko pointed out that not even a single student has received an allowance.
“We are not surprised because now and again the PS has proven to be a manipulative and dishonest man towards SANU students. How do you expect students to shine in their studies when they go for a whole semester on empty stomachs and without book allowances,” he said.
He mentioned that he was not also surprised that the quality of education at SANU is worsening each academic year and government is to be blamed for that. Maseko said SANU students have lost faith not only in the PS but on government as a whole.
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