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Thank you for allowing me the space to make this humble suggestion to the honourable Minister of Labour and Social Security and the Scholarship Board.  I make this suggestion fully aware of the need to repay the scholarship so that the funds can benefit future generations.

May I express my serious doubts regarding the engagement of a law firm in an attempt to recover the scholarship.This is because I am fully aware that the law alone cannot address the problems of any country but programmes and incentives can sometimes make more meaningful progress than the law.

Engagement of a third party (like the law firm) in this process has further financial implications to the dwindling funds of the scholarship fund- it’s a drain.

Other questions that beg answers include; what is it that the law firm will do differently that the Scholarship Recovery Team cannot do?  What proof of failure and steps have they been doing towards recovering the scholarship monies to justify the need for the engagement of a third party?

What are the monitoring programmes that they will institute to ensure that there are gains and serious improvement by engaging a firm in this important matter?  My point is not made to attack the Mdladla Law firm as an entity but rather on the objectivity of the engagement. I believe there are other means that can utilised like the use of advanced IT tracking methods.

Through using the graded tax number and/or ID number to track employment status of former scholarship beneficiaries (which I believe guys in the IT industry can so easily be able to do), the Scholarship Collection team can be able to keep tabs, just like it happens with income tax and scholarship will be inherently deducted. I also anticipate less resistance on that area since we would be having an incentivised scholarship recovery system.

So all we need is the Scholarship Collection Team to task its workers to explore the development of an employment status tracking system so that scholarship will be deducted as part of lawful tax, only that this tax will already be inclusive of a scholarship levy, to put it that way.

Then the headache would be over, there won’t be need to be chasing people up and down. Recovering scholarship from those already in the system can also be done through the exact exercise, comparing their income tax statements against scholarship repayments, while ensuring that old citizens who paid long ago are exempted from this. The fund can be self-sustaining in this way too.

I am also aware that this mechanism may have unforeseen challenges in implementation and requires political commitment, revenue calculations among other implications. But I so much believe it can truly work. While this may not carry serious gains in the short-to-medium term, it can do so in the long-term as more and more people pay.

Honourable Minister and your board, as a citizen I humbly propose and believe the above will really improve our lives as graduates and citizens but it will also nullify the stress and costs that your board contends with in this regard.

Fakazi Mlotshwa

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