DUT students protest against new NSFAS payment method
Students affiliated to the EFF students command protested outside the Durban University of Technology over grievances with the new financial aid payment method.
The protesters blockaded parts of Steve Biko Road with burning tyres, stones and other objects on Friday in protest against the newly introduced National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) direct payment system called eZaga.
DUT spokesperson Alan Khan, could not apportion responsibility to anyone, saying the protesters had “apparently covered their faces avoid identification”.
Khan told TimesLIVE law enforcement authorities had responded before operations of the university could be affected.
“Fortunately, university operations were not affected by the protest. Police arrived on the scene and responded to the situation. The law enforcement authorities unblocked the road, which improved the situation for commuters. We can also confirm the scheduled university examinations proceeded without disruption.”
The protest comes a day after the provincial leadership of the EFFSC called for all branches to mobilise students against the system of using service providers.
EFFSC KZN chairperson Sandile Khuzwayo said the new system was a battle between the tendering process and the creation of internal capacity.
He warned using “tenderpreneurs” would place profits ahead of rendering efficient services and facilitate corruption.
“This is evident in the exorbitant fees that are being charged by these companies; ranging from decline fee, lost cards, SMS notification fees, card replacement fee, card delivery fee ...”
The new system will see NSFAS make direct payments into bank accounts using independent service providers instead of doing it through the higher learning institutions.
“DUT students took to the streets to show they are not happy with the system that NSFAS wants to introduce and they will fight against this thing until our voices can be heard,” said EFFSC DUT chairperson Siyanda Mpontshane.
Mpontshane said one of their biggest issues with the new system is the lack of clarity regarding accountability when issues “inevitably” arise.
He said the old system where the university bore responsibility for distributing funds had its issues but was better because it was easy to get the institution to account and resolve any grievances students had.
“If the university, NSFAS and the department of higher education continues to enforce this thing we will have no choice but to render the institution ungovernable until they listen to our demands because you can’t enforce this system without consulting students as to how they feel about it,” he said.
“Students are angry with what the institution is allowing to happen to them and we can say without any fear of intimidation or contradiction that we are going to make sure that our students are represented. If it means we shut down all campuses of DUT then so be it.”
“As the EFFSC we are still in processes to engage directly with NSFAS officials to tell them to stop these processes. We have also directed all our SRCs to engage with their management on their campuses. We will also write to all campus management about this. If they refuse to listen to us, we are going to embark on mass action,” EFFSC deputy provincial secretary Sabelo Mpulo said.
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