Nzimande asks MPs to answer fees questions in writing

2016-10-12 20:48
Blade Nzimande (Netwerk24)

Blade Nzimande (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - MPs let Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande off the hook on Wednesday after his request to answer their questions on the ongoing fees crisis in writing was granted.

Nzimande and his department appeared before a joint meeting of both the National Assembly and National Council of Province's higher education committees to address its 2015/16 performance.

For almost an hour following the department's presentation the 16-strong MP bench lobbed question after question at the minister on both the department's performance and the current crisis.

"Chair, with your permission, can I come back to these questions," said Nzimande adding a request that he "officially submit them in writing".

"If you require me to come back here [to Parliament] and discuss them I'll be able to do so," he asked the two chairs around 16:00.

Most notable were comments from DA MP Belinda Bozzoli, who said she was very disappointed by the department's presentation on its financial year performance.

"I'm very unhappy with this session. The presentation by the minister and his staff hardly mentioned the current crisis in higher education.

"It merely repeated what the minister told the public two weeks ago.

"I wonder what the public thinks watching us on TV while a war is raging on and off campuses. I respect and value the hard work done by the department but we cannot continue like this."

Increase in graduates

Nzimande said he didn't want the department to be accused of dodging its constitutional obligation to answer for the 2015/16 report.

He said it wasn't the appropriate forum to answer questions on the current fees crisis, and accused "certain members" of political grandstanding.

The minister had earlier said in his presentation that despite the systemic challenges faced by the universities, there had been improvement in outputs in 2015/16.

He pointed to the increase in graduates across the board, the 3.3% increase in enrolment, and the investment in supporting scarce skills.

He also called on Parliament to allow the higher education commission of inquiry into the fees crisis chaired by Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher to finish its work before the June 2017 deadline.

Committee chairpersons Connie September and Lynette Zwane gave the department permission to answer some of the questions in writing.

None of the MPs objected.

Nzimande left the meeting before it adjourned.

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  university protests  |  education  |  university fees

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