Ruling party and its leagues criticise fees report
THE ANC and its leagues yesterday took a swipe at the Fees Commission report, which declared that the country cannot afford free education for all people.
President Jacob Zuma appointed a commission of inquiry into the feasibility of fee-free higher education in January last year. The move followed nationwide protests by tertiary students who demanded access to free higher education.
On Monday, Zuma released the 748-page report to mixed reactions by opposition parties and interest groups.
Yesterday, the ANC expressed reservations over the report’s wide-ranging recommendations, saying it missed key aspects of the agenda the ANC-led government wanted to drive on education.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the party would, however, leave it to the government to address the limitations of the report.
“While we welcome the release of the report of the Heher Commission, there are a number of areas which are of concern to the ANC which we trust government will consider in the process of responding to the recommendations of the commission. Free education for the poor and the working class is not under discussion, it is a policy position of the ANC,” Mantashe said.
He said what the party expected was a discussion on the modalities to implement fee-free education for the working class, adding that it was not a populist position but an adopted policy.
“The ANC calls on government to reject the proposal for a cost-sharing model which will further indebt students and the different classification of students,” Mantashe said.
While the ANC Youth League mainly welcomed the commission’s recommendations, the South African Students Con- gress slammed the report as being “corporate inspired”.
Sasco rejected the report as a waste of time and state resources. “What this report has done is actually take us back. The commission exposed the internal limitations of government and the ruling party on investing in internal capacity for progressive policy formulation.”
Sasco said policy formulation by the ANC-led government had to be a function of political will and determination by the state, instead of being delegated to “bureaucrats, technocrats and jurists”.
Sasco also slammed the proposal to spend 1% of the gross domestic product on higher education, saying it was not in line with the government’s stated plan to make education a priority.
The ANC Women’s League also rejected the recommendation for the use of commercial banks to help fund students from working-class backgrounds who did not qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
“Some of the commercial banks in South Africa are fingered in the manipulation of the currency, and the largest share of the top South African banks is owned by foreigners,” said the league’s secretarygeneral, Meokgo Matuba.