IMAGE: Bruce Kannemeyer (Municipal Manager) and Joey Mochela (Executive Mayor)
By Thys Khiba
Parys – The Ngwathe Local Municipality, which falls under the Fezile Dabi Region, has left at least 138 tertiary institution students disappointed by failing to ensure that they pay for their 2021 registration fees amounting to at least R886 521. 14.
The municipality is still expected to pay at least R217 210.14 for the University of Free State, R304 240 for the North West University, R8 500 for Boston College, R10 000 for the University of Pretoria, R76 788 for the University of South Africa, R87 750 for Lesedi Centre, R53 940 for University of Johannesburg, R18 680 for University of the Witwatersrand, R3 000 for the Tshwane University of Technology, R46 350 for the Central University of Technology, R35 79/0 for the Flavius Mareka TVET, R12 600 for the Vaal University of Technology, R6 000 for the Nelson Mandela University, R1 600 for Rosebank College, R5 500 for Embury Stadio College, R3 121 for Central Johannesburg TVET College, R15 000 for the University of Cape Town, R8 000 for Ekurhuleni Agriculture College, and R4 500 for Sefako Makgatho Health Science University.
In February 2021, the municipality issued letters of commitment to various institutions, namely North West University, and others, promising to pay registration fees for deserving students.
According to the February issued commitment letter signed by the then Acting Manager for Ngwathe Executive Mayor’s Office, Steve Naale, the municipality requested the institutions to register the deserving students and send the municipality their banking details to transfer the money electronically.
Free State Central News had a chance to interview the affected students of the North West University (NWU). According to the affected students of the NWU, the municipality prioritised to pay the power utility Eskom instead of paying for education.
“Adding on top of my stress as a student…most of the time we don’t have water, electricity and now we have to stress about our fees and the pressure from school,” said Female NWU Student.
“It made me appear dishonest in the face of the institution…now that they suspect that I have fabricated it or such agreement never existed. They gave me a deadline if the money is not paid I will be deregistered. So I wake up everyday thinking about being kicked out of the campus,” said Male NWU Student.
The municipality responded by saying that they have been experiencing revenue challenges hence there is a delay in the roll out of payments to tertiary institutions for registration fees.
“The Municipality Manager has tasked Youth Development Practitioners and the Manager Budget and Expenditure to visit various academic institutions to allocate money currently left at institutional creditors from previous academic year and they are interacting with students,” said Ngwathe Municipality Spokesperson, Steve Naale.
Naale confirmed that the municipality will pay the outstanding balance (registration fees).
“This will minimise current frustrations experienced by students who were allocated registration fees by the municipality. Furthermore, the municipality sends a word of apology to affected students,” said Naale.
Naale said that the municipality has developed a revenue enhancement plan as part of the municipal turnaround strategy to ensure financial viability. He said that it is not true that municipality is prioritising Eskom above other creditors or academic registration for students.
“It is important to understand that the municipal financial year start on 1 July and end 30 June, therefore the registration will indeed be paid next month before 15th,” said Naale. @Free State Central News – Beyond the news
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