More than 40 000 higher education graduates have yet to receive their certificates — some years after they qualified. Engineers, artisans and business students are either unemployed, working at retail stores or about to lose the jobs they have found without their certificates.
This is a problem the higher education minister, Blade Nzimande, has failed to address since he took up his post more than 10 years ago.
The backlog stretches to 1992, leading the minister to say in parliament that he feels “ashamed”.
Yet former students such as Chuma Mfazwe, who is a qualified electrical engineer, cannot find a job. Mfazwe has a seasonal shop assistant job that will end in January after the festive season. She has not been able to find work as an electrical engineer because, four years after completing her studies at Buffalo City College in East London, she has not received her certificate.
Prospective employers reject her statement of results.
“I am now using my matric certificate to get jobs in retail. I started this job last week because it is almost the festive season and the shops are busy. But in January I will go back to being unemployed,” she says. “I am at least able to buy myself toiletries.”