DA to keep close eye on higher education funding commission

President Jacob Zuma. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)
President Jacob Zuma. (Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Johannesburg – The DA has welcomed President Jacob Zuma's appointment of a commission of inquiry into the feasibility of funding free higher education, but has vowed to make sure it reports back on its findings within the specified time.

"We will hold him to his promise that it will issue its report within eight months," said DA MP, Belinda Bozzoli, on Thursday.

The DA also wanted the commission's terms of reference to be released for public scrutiny.

"The ANC government has previously established such commissions with extremely limited terms of reference to act as nothing more than a whitewash and a distraction without ever considering the real issues, determining the responsible parties or producing meaningful and actionable recommendations," she said.

The commission would be chaired by Judge Jonathan Heher from the Supreme Court of Appeal. Given eight months to conduct its investigation, it was expected to submit its final report to Zuma no later than two months after completing its work.

The DA said it wanted the commission to take into account how the neglect of higher education had caused the crisis the sector currently faced.

"Indeed, despite continuous warnings from university management, the Democratic Alliance, and even its own reports, such as the Ministerial Reviews of the Funding of Universities and NSFAS, government has grossly neglected the higher education sector for the past 20 years," Bozzoli said.

This meant that major reinvestment into the sector was needed, she said.

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