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Wed Oct 01 20:21:05 SAST 2014

Zuma fund fails needy students

CANAAN MDLETSHE | 18 February, 2013 00:25
South African President Jacob Zuma
Image by: REUTERS / REUTERS

Students promised money from President Jacob Zuma's education trust say they have been forced to drop out of varsity because the fund is not making payments.

The Jacob Zuma RDP Education Trust was formed in 1995 when Zuma was the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development and tourism.

On Friday, Zuma named the trust as the beneficiary of the Presidential Golf Challenge and gala dinner, which raised R7-million. The SABC quoted Zuma as saying at the gala dinner that the trust had helped 23000 pupils since its inception.

But several KwaZulu-Natal students say their tuition fees have not been paid.

"I am so desperate and if the situation persists I will have to look for temporary jobs," said a 21-year-old University of Zululand computer science and maths student who asked not to be named.

He said he was one of about 30 beneficiaries from Bizimali High School, in Nkandla, selected three years ago.

"We were promised a full bursary because we had done well despite our poor backgrounds. I saw this as a realisation of my dream to take my family out of poverty. But it is all turning into a nightmare."

In 2010 the trust paid him R10000 but nothing in 2011, he said, adding that he was allowed to register for his courses only after the trust negotiated with the university. But, by last year, he owed the university more than R40000.

"There are about 170 students who have similar problems and we were told that the trust had paid only for 36 students. Unfortunately, my name was not among them."

A language practice student at the Durban University of Technology said he owed the university R57000.

"I had to register for one outstanding subject before I could get my degree but I couldn't because the trust had not paid outstanding fees," he said.

"My future is bleak if they do not pay."

A 23-year-old plant science student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal said she owes R31000 plus interest.

"I managed to register this year because I had applied to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme in 2012,"she said. "I have had enough of broken promises by the trust."

By yesterday afternoon the trust had not responded to queries sent on Thursday, despite a promise that it would do so.

UKZN's corporate relations executive director Nomonde Mbadi said: "The university has been in contact with the trust. We are confident there is an explanation for the delay in the funding."

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Wed Oct 01 20:21:05 SAST 2014 ::