Analyst suggests full overhaul of ­education ­system

2016-11-30 06:00
Solomon Hussain, political analyst at the University of the Free State.  Photo: Supplied

Solomon Hussain, political analyst at the University of the Free State. Photo: Supplied

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The South African economy has never been in a more uncertain state, says University of the Free State (UFS) political analyst Solomon Hussain.

Giving a lecture on the economy and the crises of higher education at the university on Thursday (24/11), Hussain said Pravin Gordan’s two counts of fraud charges, which were subsequently dropped, were ­interlinked with the R1 trillion nuclear deal.

The deal implicates Pres. Jacob Zuma’s son and the Gupta family.

Hussain said beyond the nuclear deal, treasury had been reluctant to bail out the South African Airways (SAA) and the public broadcaster, SABC, given the poor level of governance and financial mismanagement of the entities.

It had to be noted that the fiscal space of the treasury had been ­steadily eroding over the years, he said.

“Revenue growth is decreasing, whilst state expenditure is on the increase, despite valiant efforts on the part of the finance ministry,” Hussain explained.

“The public sector has increased in size by 300% since 1994 and 60% of consolidated government spending is its wage bill, interest payments on government debt and social grant payments.

“South Africa is only expected to grow by 0,1% in 2016, with a strong possibility of a rating downgrade in December and recession,” he added.

Statistics South Africa’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey indicates that 16 000 Free Staters lost their jobs during the months of July, August and September this year.

Hussain said there was no short-term solution for this considering that government revenue collection was decreasing.

Revenue growth had actually halved over the past year, Hussain explained.

“The persistent budget deficits led to government debt rising by more than R1 trillion between 2008 and 2016 and doubling as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product), and that is not even taking into account the fact that R250 billion would be needed over the medium term to fund the tertiary education sector,” he said.

Citing findings by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on the State of Capture, the professor noted that treasury’s attempts to tighten belts had not gone unchallenged by politicians used to an ever longer gravy train.

“To fix this, we need a growing economy in the first instance. We need government and university administrators to come together, engaging in a radical overhaul of the entire education system, from primary and secondary, to the higher education sector,” Hussain said.

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