Parliament wants release of fees report expedited

Cape Town – Parliament wants the report by the commission into higher education fees released soon as possible, but according to Minister of Higher Education Hlengiwe Mkhize, the report is still being processed. 

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training on Wednesday expressed concern about the potential consequences of delaying the release of the Heher fees commission report and resolved to officially write to Mkhize to request its release. Last week, the committee also requested her to facilitate the report's release.

The DA, however, is disappointed that the ANC used its majority in the committee to block the DA's proposal to summons President Jacob Zuma to release the report.

Committee chairperson Connie September said in a statement that while the committee accepted that Zuma needed to apply his mind to the report, and engage with the relevant ministers, it would have been ideal if this had happened expeditiously. 

READ: Zuma urged to release leaked fees commission report

September said the release of the report was a matter of public interest. 

"There now seems to be anxiety and potential unrest as a result of further delays in releasing the report," September said. 

"It serves no purpose to keep society in suspense over what the commission found. Also, it is a wrong approach to allow a situation where the report comes in [drips and drabs], through unnecessary leaks in the media," she said.

University planning

"The release ought to be expeditious so that universities know what and how to budget for the next year. Punctuality will allow them to make informed decisions as to what percentage increase they require for the next year," she said. 

DA MP Belinda Bozzoli said in a statement the move to block the DA's proposal to summons Zuma "shows the ANC continues to believe that Parliament is part of the hierarchy of control embedded in government itself, rather than a separate and independent body to which the president and public representatives are fully answerable". 

She said the report needs to be made public as soon as possible as students are anxious about next year's fees, adding that universities are also desperately trying to plan their budgets for 2018.

"It is unfair that the president continues to make students, who need access to education, wait to know whether they can afford to further their studies or not. The DA will continue to push for the report's immediate release in the best interest of our students."

READ: EXCLUSIVE: Fees won't fall

City Press reported on Sunday that the report states that universal free tertiary education will not be feasible in the foreseeable future, and different funding models should be adopted to ensure that all deserving students gain access to higher education.

When answering questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Mkhize would not confirm this when asked by Bozzoli. 

She also didn't answer the EFF's question on when the report will be released. 

"The report is being processed," she said, noting that several ministers is involved in this process.

She said MP's shouldn't debate matters of national interest based on leaks.

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