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Cosatu Urges Government Action Amidst NSFAS Payment Crisis

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Cosatu Urges Government Action Amidst NSFAS Payment Crisis

Cosatu Urges Government Action Amidst NSFAS Payment Crisis. In the midst of the ongoing NSFAS payment controversy, Trade Union Federation Cosatu calls upon government intervention to address the dire situation surrounding the new direct payment system for student financial aid. This issue has sparked unrest among students and garnered concern from various stakeholders.

Cosatu’s Plea for Government Intervention

Cosatu, the trade union federation, has voiced its concerns over the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) direct payment system and urges the government to step in. The federation has released a statement urging immediate action from the Department of Higher Education and Training, the National Treasury, and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority.

In a modern economy, the chaos currently unfolding is unacceptable. The Department of Higher Education and National Treasury must intervene promptly to establish a payment mechanism that ensures timely disbursement of funds to students, universities, and colleges. This intervention is crucial to prevent private companies from profiting at the expense of financially disadvantaged students through scandalous deductions.

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Challenges with the Direct Payment System

The recent statement from Cosatu follows weeks of mounting student discontent and protests regarding the shortcomings of the direct payment system. Students have raised significant concerns about the system’s functionality and effectiveness.

NSFAS entered into partnerships with four banking service providers—Tenet Technology, Coinvest Africa, Ezaga Holdings, and Norraco Corporation—to introduce the new payment solution to students. However, since its implementation, a series of issues have surfaced, including students not receiving their allocated funds, excessively high bank charges, technical glitches, and unauthorized access leading to fund losses.

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Additionally, some students express frustration over the onboarding process, which they describe as far from “seamless.” Questions have been raised about the timing of the new system’s introduction, particularly during the middle of the academic year, and the communication surrounding its implementation.

Cosatu’s Perspective on the Chaos

Cosatu spokesperson Matthew Parks emphasizes that the concerns raised paint a concerning picture of continuous chaos within NSFAS. He asserts that such disorder cannot be allowed to persist. Historically, NSFAS has been criticized for delayed payments to students, as well as funding uncertainties for universities and colleges dependent on these disbursements. Some students have even faced defunding inaccuracies by NSFAS, resulting in lengthy waiting periods for resolution.

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NSFAS’s Response and Media Briefing

In a recent media briefing, NSFAS refuted claims that the new payment system was implemented without proper consultation. Ernest Khosa, Chairperson of the NSFAS Board, expressed concern over this perception and clarified that the new direct allowance payment system was introduced after extensive consultations. The goal was to simplify allowance payments and eliminate delays.

Khosa acknowledges that the issues students are encountering during onboarding are largely due to initial challenges and the need to complete authentication processes. He urged students to fulfill the authentication requirements to ensure timely allowance disbursements. If these processes are not completed, there is a risk of payment delays.

Teams have been dispatched to campuses nationwide to assist students with the authentication procedures.

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SAUS’s Response to NSFAS’s Explanation

Asive Dlanjwa, spokesperson for the South African Union of Students (SAUS), acknowledges that consultations were indeed held regarding the payment system. However, Dlanjwa highlights that certain concessions agreed upon during these discussions were not implemented, contributing to the current crisis.

Dlanjwa points out that NSFAS failed to mention that some of the concessions, particularly regarding bank charges, were not upheld. Despite NSFAS’s claim that the system is user-friendly, Dlanjwa argues that the banking system has proven otherwise.

Government’s Commitment to Resolution

The government bursary scheme is actively working to address any remaining barriers hindering allowance disbursement to students. NSFAS reaffirms its commitment to collaborating with universities, TVET colleges, and student bodies to improve the academic experience for students.

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