Include Gordhan in Fees Must Fall task team: ANC

2016-10-18 19:05
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: GCIS)

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - The ANC has told President Jacob Zuma to include Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his task team convened to deal with the protests crippling tertiary institutions. 

This was part of its national working committee’s (NWC) proposals to government as it tried to ensure the academic year was not lost due to protests on campuses countrywide, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said on Tuesday.

They had asked government to include the ministers of finance, social development, and housing in the task team, to ensure it was “a little bit more comprehensive”.

Zuma announced on October 11 that he had set up a task team of the ministers of home affairs, state security, police, defence, planning and monitoring, and justice, to help Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande end protests at universities.

The South African Council of Churches and some student leaders criticized him for including only the security cluster and excluding Treasury, which they said needed to work out how the fiscus would fund their demands for free tertiary education. 

Duarte said the NWC on Monday only discussed the fees must fall protests.

The NWC said government and universities should immediately end financial exclusion, scrap registration fees and interest on current loans, and allow students not on the NSFAS and who owed their universities money to graduate and receive their certificates. This would allow the rest of the 2016 academic year to be salvaged, the NWC believed.

Duarte said they asked the task team to meet vice chancellors to discuss these issues.

The NWC wanted the task team to review Nzimande’s R600 000 income threshold and make it more “scientific and realistic”. Nzimande announced on September 19 that students from households with an annual income of up to R600 000 would not have to pay fee increases for 2017, for fee increments up to 8%.

Duarte said Nzimande’s proposal was an interim measure to deal with the "intense aggression" at universities. It however failed to take into account the "black tax" – the money black income earners had to use to support their needy relatives.

While the NWC stood by recent comments that it had gone beyond the goals for higher education set down in the Freedom Charter, it recognised that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme had become “a difficulty” for students.

The ANC gave no clear deadline on delivering free education. Duarte said they must "progressively increase access to free and quality education for the poor and working class".

She said students’ concerns were legitimate, but urged them to distance themselves from the violence at some institutions.  

“We must save this academic year, all students must go back to school, students must write their exams. We must not waste this year."


Read more on:    pravin gordhan  |  politics

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