By Audience Mutema
GOVERNMENT’s move to re-introduce student grants could have hit turbulent waters after a local bank that had promised to support the programme reduced its pledge from 10 times to just double of the seed money availed by authorities citing inflation, Parliament heard on Wednesday.
State media early this week went to town after government announced the grants that students have demanded for years had been reinstated.
Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Amon Murwira in response to MDC Dzivarasekwa legislator Edwin Mushoriwa, who during the question and answer session had asked whether the grants are sustainable.
“I want you to know that we actually have a line that is called student support, which initially had been given $8.4 million. It has since been topped up to $13 million and we have again taken a student support line from Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund of $5 million which brings the total to $20 million.
“We have also negotiated with CBZ Bank Limited so that they offer more beyond what we would have provided as seed money. Before inflation they had promised to multiply $20 million by 10 in terms of loans but in order to cater for inflation this has been reduced to double. This means for the last half of this year from July to December we have a budget of about $40 million,” said Murwira.
Under the initial pledge the loan value would have ballooned to $200 million had CBZ kept its word.
Murwira early this week said the grants suspended several years ago due to economic challenges would be resuscitated adding only 15 000 students out of a possibly 20 000 were accessing loans with some failing because they could not met the requirements.
For years students at the country’s tertiary institutions have protested demanding the reintroduction of the grants that for in the past assisted less privileged children with fees payment.