THE Youth Communist League (YCL) has accused the DA Youth’s financial aid campaign, launched on campus on Wednesday, of being a “contemptible stunt”.

In preparation for the upcoming municipal elections, the Democratic Alliance Students’ Organisation (Daso) released the “Make Financial Aid Work” campaign on April 13 to address students’ financial aid crisis.

Daso’s campaign contains five key proposals to reform the National Student Financial Aid Scheme of South Africa (NSFAS). 

The YCL national office said the DA campaign is an “electioneering and publicity stunt” as the proposals are already in processes of being implemented. 

The proposals include the conversion of loans into bursaries for students who perform better in their final years, reforms in the way interest is charged and the implementation of socio-economic status rather than race as criteria for NSFAS allocations. 

According to the YCL, the suggested reforms “are either in the minister’s action plan or have already been recommended by the NSFAS review report, and are being implemented”.

Nazley Sharif, chairperson of Daso Wits, responded to the critiques saying: “Many of the draft proposals currently on the table, including that loans be converted to bursaries at a rate linked to academic performance, are unique.

“There has been no prior undertaking by the minister to implement them, hence the report by the ministerial review committee on NSFAS that has essentially dubbed the system a massive failure.”

The DA Youth claimed that protests by students on campuses have gone on for too many years without a satisfactory improvement in the financial aid situation.

The campaign is therefore designed to give students a “constructive alternative platform through which to voice their concerns”, said Sharif.

After consultation with students, who are encouraged to share their financial aid stories on the campaign’s Facebook page, a memorandum document will be presented to the minister of higher education and training, Blade Nzimande, by the DA Youth leader, Makashule Gana, on May 12.

Daso, which is campaigning on all campuses, plans to host the DA’s mayoral candidate Mmusi Maimane in the second week of next term to address Wits students and discuss the financial crisis. The event will be open to the public.