HARARE – President Robert Mugabe should mobilise resources to bankroll the presidential scholarship, finance minister Tendai Biti said yesterday. Biti said treasury cannot continue to bankroll the controversial scheme as it is Mugabe’s personal initiative. MDC youths and students associations claim only people aligned to Zanu PF benefit from the presidential bursary scheme.
There are reports that the scheme is facing budgetary constraints with Zimbabwe’s students seeing red at South African colleges. However, Biti who is also the MDC secretary general said it is not his concern that the scheme is facing challenges. “That is not my problem because it is a presidential scholarship. A private scholarship of the president,” said Biti dismissively.
Information with the Daily News shows that the cash strapped government has scrapped food allowances. Zimbabwe’s students are reportedly resorting to manual labour in South Africa as they seek to make ends meet. An estimated 4 000 Zimbabwean students are studying at different universities in South Africa. Colleges in South Africa are now threatening to expel the students if they fail to settle their mushrooming arrears.
An average 250 students per institution are enrolled at 15 universities in South Africa. These include the university of Johannesburg, university of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN), university of Pretoria, Monash university, and Fort Hare university. The students are entitled to R1 000 allowance for food and stationery, but they also have to pay for electricity and water bills. Many students at the colleges claim they have not received anything this year resulting in power cuts.
Director of the presidential scholarship programme Chris Mushowe was not available for comment but admitted in the local media that they are behind in paying the students bills and tuition. “No, it’s not the case, our relations with South African universities continue to be cordial and we have asked them to assist with things like transport for our students where, in some cases, students may come forward and say that they do not have any funds to travel back home.”
“I personally wrote to South African universities a few weeks ago and it is positive to see that they are helping our students”. Daily News