File photo – Gallo Images

South Africa, brace yourself for a fresh wave of student protests

Just when we finished counting the costs of the last protests.


File photo – Gallo Images

The South African Unions of Students (SAUS) has warned of impending student protests due to the inefficacy of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

As reported by News24, SAUS President, Misheck Mugabe, addressed the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training in Parliament on Thursday.

In his address, the student-body leader highlighted the gross mismanagement of NSFAS, which has resulted in non-payment of student allowance.

NSFAS falling apart

It’s previously been reported that NSFAS is on the verge of collapse, following administrative mayhem as a result of former president, Jacob Zuma’s, free education announcement. The shambles has left a severe backlog in funding applications, coupled with uncertainty regarding the R30 billion budget.

The situation has now become dire, with The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor, halting application processes indefinitely. Complicating matters is the recent resignation of NSFAS chairperson, Sizwe Nxasana.

Adding to the likelihood of protest action, The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) has threatened the government with retaliation and revolt, following the arrest and conviction of Fees Must Fall (FMF) protest leader, Bonginkosi Khanyile.

Student protests likely to hit South Africa

It seems likely then, that unless government is able to fix matters at NSFAS, and quell student dissidence, South Africa is likely to see the return of chaotic and destructive university protests.

According to Mugabe, students at the universities of Venda, Limpopo and Mpumalanga were already involved with protest action, while Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth is currently teetering on the brink of dissent.

Mugabe added that students were hungry and homeless due to the delay in NSFAS payments, saying:

“There is a looming national protest due to NSFAS allowances.”

Yonke Twani, president of the Training Student Association (Safetsa), reiterated Mugabe’s concerns, arguing that NSFAS be completely restructured to allow for easier access to services.

Twani also maintained that student protest action was imminent, saying:

“Visibility of NSFAS in campuses is still a challenge, because NSFAS is more visible when colleges are burning.”