Five Zimbabwean students enrolled at the University of Johannesburg under the Presidential Scholarship Scheme are stranded in South Africa after they were turned away presumably for non-payment of fees.
Source: 5 Presidential scholarship beneficiaries stranded in SA – NewsDay Zimbabwe March 3, 2017
By Nunurai Jena
The sad development, which comes amid chaotic scenes of xenophobic attacks on immigrants in the neighbouring country, prompted Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushohwe to rush to South Africa in an attempt to address the problem.
Mushohwe, who is the Presidential Scholarship Scheme programme director, flew to Johannesburg on Thursday morning, abandoning his scheduled local work plan.
Information ministry permanent secretary George Charamba on Thursday unwittingly disclosed the dilemma while apologising on behalf of Mushohwe for not attending an all-stakeholders’ meeting held in Chinhoyi to promote independent broadcasting content production.
The event was convened by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe in readiness for the shift from analogue to digital under the behind schedule digitisation programme.
“The minister would have wanted to be with us here, but he had to fly to South Africa early yesterday where our students at the University of Johannesburg are stranded,” he said.
“Imagine a situation where a student has packed their bags thinking they were going to college only to be left stranded. So the minister had to rush to attend to that urgent matter. We hope he has managed to solve the problem.”
Charamba later confirmed to NewsDay Weekender that five students had been affected although he declined to give further details.
President Robert Mugabe introduced the scholarship fund in 1995 to benefit gifted, but underprivileged students.
However, many beneficiaries often get stranded at various universities because of the government’s failure to pay tuition and boarding fees. Some have become destitute in foreign lands.
In some cases, students have resorted to vices such as prostitution to sustain their stay at foreign universities as the broke government grapples a liquidity crisis.
Opposition parties and local students bodies have also criticised the programme as a waste of resources which could otherwise be channelled to improve tertiary institutions in Zimbabwe.