Ongwediva-Namibian medical students at two tertiary institutions in Zambia have been left in the lurch after the Ministry of Health and Social Services failed to pay their monthly allowance of US$350 (about N$4,550) for almost two months.
As a result students with expired study permits, fearing deportation, left Zambia to find alternatives to renew their permits while those who returned to Namibia for holidays fear going back due to a lack of funds.
The students have been on holiday since May 19, with classes only expected to resume in July but as per norm they usually receive the allowance while on holiday.
So far this year the students have only received allowances up to April 20, but have not received an allowance for May-June and June-July, usually paid on the 20th of each month.
Students said they are supposed to receive their allowance three months upfront but that has not been the case.
“Life here is very expensive – we now share the little we have with each other because we cannot afford anything anymore,” lamented one student who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The students charged they have been fed with conflicting information every time they enquire about their finances, the latest being they will have their money this Friday.
“But when we go to their offices they keep telling us different stories. Sometimes they will tell us there is no money, or the money is forever coming next week, or the money is being withheld by the finance ministry,” said another student.
The students are undertaking different courses in the medical field at Lusaka Apex Medical University and Cavendish University.
Although the students are on holiday, they usually receive their allowances to sustain themselves and sometimes travel back to Namibia to do clinical practice.
“But we usually also use the chance to buy food in Namibia for the whole semester because the food is quite expensive here – and then we can buy [in Zambia] what we cannot buy in bulk back home,” added another student.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services in a statement signed by the permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola said some students have already received their allowances with the remainder expected to receive theirs by the end of this week.