Some student bodies have approached lawyers in an attempt to stop the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) from procuring laptops for students with their non-tuition fees.
This follows a bidding process advertised by NSFAF last week, which closes today, calling for interested parties to procure laptops for students.
The N$180 million contract to supply university students with 32 000 laptops is part of the government’s support plan for higher education institutions and students to boost e-learning platforms, as well as to ensure remote teaching takes place during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the Student Union of Namibia (SUN), Landless People’s Movement (LPM) student command, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Youth League and the National Africa Students Association (NASA) contend it is better and more practical to give the students their full non-tuition directly so that they use the money on other learning tools and to support themselves.
Acting on behalf of student bodies and youth formations, Tjituri Law Chambers withstand the decision to purchase laptops on behalf of their clients and their constituents who are contractually bound to NSFAF, saying it is repulsive, unlawful, and stands to be challenged.
“Further, the fund is afforded an opportunity to cease the bidding process for the purchasing of laptops for our clients and their constituents forthwith. Furthermore, the fund is implored to honour its contractual obligations towards our clients as per clause 1.1.5 of the loan contract for the 2020 academic year. Failure to adhere to the above, we hold strict instructions to approach the High Court of Namibia on an urgent basis and seek to review and set aside the fund’s unilateral decision with costs,” the lawyers vowed.
Contacted for comment, NSFAF acting CEO Kennedy Kandume yesterday said they will issue a joint statement with higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi today.
The youth representatives argued a significant majority of students already have laptops and will just end up selling the NSFAF laptops for hard cash to survive.
“We express our disappointment to the minister of finance Iipumbu Shiimi who allowed an exemption in July for NSFAF to buy students laptops without publicly advertising the tender, an exercise we view as a tactic to legitimise corruption in Namibia,” the students said last week.
“As representatives from the three student organisation and the youth wing formation, together with parents, [we] hereby reject the laptop initiative and makes a clarion call to all students and peace-loving Namibians to equally object and reject this bogus initiative by supporting our petition to stop this illegal and immoral act by NSFAF.”
The petition is already being circulated on all social media platforms.
They threaten to further seek an urgent court interdict to stop this “illegal exercise” by NSFAF.
They argued NSFAF has no mandate to decide on whether students’ non-tuition fees should be spent on laptops or not. Further, they said the contract entered into by NSFAF and students makes no provision for the fund to decide what to do with student’s money (non-tuition) without their consent.
“It is absolutely not at the discretion of the fund to spend student’s money in whatever manner they deem fit. Secondly, the forceful procuring of these overpriced laptops for students will mean that students’ non-tuition fees will be drastically cut. Those on the N$21 600 contract will end up receiving only N$15, 600, and those on the N$17, 000 contract will end up getting N$11, 000. Students never requested these laptops. Students did not ask for these laptops, and this should not be the case.”