The Inkatha Freedom Party Youth Brigade (IFPYB) is deeply concerned by the dire situation unfolding across the country within our nation’s institutions of higher learning. We are particularly concerned about the eZaga direct payment system, which the IFPYB has warned against.
It is with a heavy heart that we witness the ANC-led Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation demonstrating a blatant disregard for the welfare and education of our students. The eZaga initiative, which was purportedly designed to ease financial burdens and ensure equitable access to education, has instead created an alarming crisis.
The promised direct payments have become a nightmare of delayed disbursements, which has also been accompanied by delays in the disbursement of meal allowances. Students rely on these funds to meet their nutritional needs and delays can hinder their ability to concentrate on their studies and negatively affect academic performance. Delayed disbursements also lead to financial hardship and compromised wellbeing, bureaucratic hurdles, and widespread frustration.
It is unconscionable that in a time when education should be at the forefront of our national priorities, we are confronted with the harsh reality that the ANC-led government has once again failed to ensure a functional and supportive Higher Education ecosystem.
This is an affront to the very essence of education as a means to empower our youth and uplift our society. As the IFPYB we have always said: “Education for Liberation.”
Yet, whether you go to TUT, UNIZULU, MUT or UFS, our students – the lifeblood of our nation’s future – find themselves caught in the quagmire of administrative chaos.
There is also inadequate communication: some students report a lack of clear communication regarding the new payment method and its implementation. This has caused confusion and frustration among recipients, impacting their trust in the system. The future prosperity of our nation hinges on an educated and empowered citizenry and it is disheartening to witness the disregard for this fundamental principle.
The IFPYB unequivocally condemns this flagrant negligence of duty and calls upon the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation to be released from his duties with immediate effect.
We further urge the Department of Higher Learning, Science, and Innovation to prioritise the needs of our students, to reflect upon their responsibility to uplift our nation’s educational standards, and to ensure that the eZaga programme becomes a beacon of hope, rather than symbol of administrative failure.
As the IFPYB, we demand swift action to streamline the disbursement process, eradicate bureaucratic hurdles and that the previous system – that was working – be reinstated.
Additionally, we also call on the Department to establish a mechanism for providing emergency support to students facing immediate food insecurity due to delays in meal allowance disbursement. Options such as on-campus food banks or meal vouchers to ensure students have access to meals even during disbursement delays must be explored. Stringent oversight mechanisms to monitor the pricing and quality of companies responsible for disbursing funds must also be implemented, to prevent any exploitation of students.
In conclusion, let it be known that the IFPYB remains steadfast in its commitment to advocate for the rights and aspirations of our youth. We will not rest until justice is served and our students are afforded the education they rightfully deserve.
Hon. Sanele Sethembeni Zondo MP
IFPYB National Chairperson and IFP Parliamentary Spokesperson on Higher Education, Science, and Innovation
082 659 9870