At the risk of possible transgression, I find courage in great revolutionaries.
Sharing his 1953 experiences of his travelling through Guatemala in a letter to his aunt Beatriz, Che Guevara, writes; “Along the way, I had the opportunity to pass through the dominions of the United Fruit, convincing me once again of just how terrible these capitalist octopuses are. I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin, that I won't rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated.”
Professor Chomsky told us, “It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.”
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin said “The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency.”
On his part, King Mandume yaNdemufayo informed the enemy that he was willing to fight until his last bullet was spent.
This column will do the following; demonstrate how NSFAF loan repayment is evil; that the recipient must NOT pay it back and that they should set the money aside for the education of their extended families.
Conversation with an elder
I had a conversation with an elder who narrated their stories of how he used to be militant and agitated during the apartheid regime as students. As students, they were spirited by Swapo discourses on an independent Namibia. Words used to circulate that when the country got independence, they would go to school for free as it happenned in Cuba and other countries of the former Soviet Bloc. Government buses would just stand there and all that was required was for students to enter to be taken to school. Swapo would deliver better education free of exploitation as was done by 'the enemy'. It’s now 21 years into political independence, make your own judgement.
The Logic of the NSFAF
Namibian Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) is a loan scheme administered by the Ministry of Education providing loans to Namibian students in higher education. It replaces the Public Service Bursary which then focused solely on Public servants.
The law makers seemingly used the same “loan” logic in enacting the NSFAF Act No. 6 of 2000. They did not follow words as heard in the conversation I had with the elder. Indeed, they found it fashionable not to allow free higher education to the children of victims of more than 350 years of systematic oppression (damn capitalist logic). The requirements of the loan clearly points out that recipients of the loans would be children of disadvantaged and poor parents. These poor children are then expected to pay the loan back after they finished studying.
We have no shame
As we have said; the rules and the logic tells us that recipients are the poor at most, if not all. Learners finish their grade on average at 17 or 18 - the age at which our capitalist government speedily place them in debt. Indeed, we have no shame nor mercy that we place poor 18 year olds in debt as if it is their problems to be poor. Swapo never asked a cent of anyone’s salary because it educated or facilitated their education in exile. The movement understood the importance of education and never placed, in the best of my knowledge, anyone in debt at that age.
The children of the rich study with a free conscious knowing that they owe no one. This is true of those that snatched the Chinese bursaries; they are not in debt. They study with a free conscious, free of NSFAF trauma. If one is poor and we know so, can’t we let them improve their families’ condition that qualified them for a loan in the first place? Is it correct to spend more than five years paying a Government you voted for just because you were poor and couldn’t afford?
Shocking is that the Government's position itself is a Capitalist Bank. This loan also has interest if not repaid on time. Think about it this way; when you get a loan from a bank, you take the money away and go buy that which is needed by you. Where do NSFAF loan recipients studying in Namibia spend this loan? Do they use it to buy alcohol and cigarettes or underwear? Where do they spend this money? They pay tuition and accommodation fees to Unam and Polytechnic. Are these not Government institutions?
Sometimes students don’t even get to see the so-called loans since the Government institutions make transfers among themselves. The 'Bank' (Government) gives loans and swallows the loan itself. When students buy books at bookshops, to whom does the VAT go? Isn’t taxing the very business that is sure of income flow? Government coffers are earning as you read this.
Is it the fault of the poor that they are poor? Is it really their fault to justify the logic that Government can only help the poor then when they graduate, they pay for the assistance they got because they are poor? When are the poor going to feel that this Government cares about them? Is it fair to expect the poor to repay while GIPF gangsters build their empires with assistance from their Government?
Putting someone in debt is not caring or providing opportunity for them. If FNB gives you a loan, it doesn’t care about you; it is simply looking out for its interest. Only charlatans would believe that this act of bondage and slaving 18 years olds is caring.
Establish Scholarships and Trusts
In light of the above, I would like to encourage loan recipients not to repay it. What you must do instead is place the money you are supposed to pay into a scholarship scheme or trust fund from which you will pay for the education of your brothers and sisters as well as any Namibian that you might come across needing assistance. When the Ministry sends you those letters, you must reply sending statements of the fees you have paid for your family members and the disadvantaged members of society. We must simply not pay it back and if they want to come for us, let them do so. After all, we will not be the first to be arrested.
All is not lost
The Ministry’s leadership is progressive and posseses a good ear. We have seen that they do not just listen to a baby crying but they also listen to the manner in which the baby is crying. The progressive minister can still do the best thing and stop placing 18 year olds in debt, thus traumatising them during their studies.
Till Second Half – Hear and be heard