Christopher Mushohwe, the executive director of the Presidential Scholarship programme, on Sunday accused Finance minister Tendai Biti of undermining the fund by allocating it inadequate resources.
Mushohwe told 1 467 students before their departure to different South African universities yesterday that the fund was failing to meet most of its obligations due to under-allocation from Treasury.
“This year we budgeted $54 million to cater for all universities, but we were given only $3 million, which is a quarter of the money needed for each of the universities.
“Last year we were given $2 million but the President looked for the extra money needed and we do not owe any university money,” he said.
The fund has come under heavy criticism from mostly MDC-T MPs who accused it of benefiting students from rich families instead of those from poor rural backgrounds.
The MPs have castigated the programme for lack of transparency and accountability.
Mushohwe denied the allegations, and accused the MPs of being “narrow-minded”.
“MPs have been questioning why we are providing scholarships for students to go and learn at South African universities instead of sending them to the local universities,” said Mushohwe.
“I am not angry at those MPs but they come from the rural constituencies and I am surprised at their narrow political minds.”
He said the purpose of the Presidential Scholarship was to support disadvantaged rural students and yet MPs from rural constituencies were blaming the programme for promoting universities outside the country.
“These MPs want the same people to vote for them. I want to urge them to be careful with what they say if they want to be voted back into power,” Mushohwe said.
Mushohwe said since its inception the scholarship programme had been increasing in its intake.
He said in 1995 when the programme started, only 15 students went to Fort Hare University but to date students were being sent to 15 South African universities.
These include Witwatersrand University, Fort Hare University, KwaZulu Natal University, Monash University and Rhodes University, among many others.