Unemployed graduates appeal for debt relief

Unemployed graduates appeal for debt relief

MASERU – UNEMPLOYED university and college graduates want the government to write off their debts.
The graduates who were given loans under the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) marched in Maseru last Friday dressed in the academic regalia.
They later handed a petition to Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki.

The graduates said if the government has the guts to write off MPs M500 000 interest-free loans, then it must also write off their loans to the NMDS.
Lephallo Mohapi, who spoke on behalf of the marchers, said the government must heed the cry of the unemployed graduates.
Mohapi said graduates are suffering irrespective of their political affiliation and status. He pleaded with the government to take a closer look at their challenges.
“Would you kindly reconsider the finance reforms and establish jobs for us,” Mohapi said, addressing Moleleki.

According to Mohapi, the NMDS expects the loans to be paid back even when the graduates have not yet secured jobs. As long as the loans remain unpaid the students cannot further their studies.
He said the NMDS can only sponsor a student for further studies only after they have repaid their tuition loans, a situation he said was disadvantaging the unemployed graduates.
This happens irrespective of whether they are being sponsored by other bodies than the NMDS.

Several organisations that offer scholarships have entered into a special arrangement with the NMDS to ensure that those who still have not repaid their loans are not sponsored any further.
“Unemployment has taken (a huge toll) on Basotho youth due to lack of finances to pay back the debt and we fail to start businesses because of lack of capital,” he stated.
Mohapi asked Moleleki to “write off NMDS loans and plan to create youth employment”.
He said it is clear that under the present circumstances the debt is unredeemable and should be written off.
“We have nowhere to get the money.”

Mohapi said they cannot spend what they do not have and therefore this is a time bomb for the country.
He said the government must make concrete efforts to create job opportunities for the youth.
“The current youth unemployment is a wasted resource and also a palpable security threat,” Mohapi said.
Moleleki promised to hand over the petition to the Prime Minister’s office.
He said he will ensure the government acts as soon as possible on the graduates’ appeals.

Tokase Mphutlane

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