Cape Town - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande answered a barrage of questions on university fee increases on Wednesday by deferring to department "plans", frustrating opposition MPs in the process.
“I am in consultation with various stakeholders, as well as the minister of finance. At an appropriate time we will make an announcement,” he told the National Assembly during a question session to the social services cluster.
DA MP Belinda Bozzoli asked Nzimande if there were any interim measures in place regarding university fee increases and subsidies before the June 2017 deadline for the commission of inquiry into higher education and training to complete its work.
She asked him about 19 universities mentioned in Parliament earlier on Wednesday that could become dysfunctional should a 0% fee increase be implemented for a second year.
“After consultation with university Vice Chancellors, I requested the Council on Higher Education to provide me with advice,” Nzimande said.
“These discussions are not complete, and therefore would be inappropriate to discuss these until our plan is in place."
'A plan will come'
EFF MP Moses Mbatha asked Nzimande if he could provide a date for the conclusion of those talks.
“When the presidential judicial commission concludes its findings next year, a plan will come.”
President Jacob Zuma established the commission of inquiry to look into the feasibility of making higher education and training in South Africa free.
Nzimande said on August 15 that a decision on fee increases for next year would be made before the end of the month.
Bozzoli and fellow DA MP Yusuf Cassim complained to the Speaker that none of Nzimande's mentioned plans contained any concrete information, given the possiblilty of large-scale university shutdowns.
“You know, you can't run any system without planning,” an agitated Nzimande answered.
“You can't accuse us of having too many plans. You need to have plans if you are to perform correctly. The reason we are performing well is because of our ability to plan.”
EFF MP Sisonke Msimang asked about the status of the building of adult and teaching TVET colleges around the country.
Nzimane used the p-word again.
"Yes, we are opening teacher training colleges, one in Mpumalanga. We also have plans to actually open others."
Facts Nzimande mentioned included the creation of a dedicated fund for historically disadvantaged universities. Nine buildings had been identified in each province to serve as administrative hubs for adult learning at TVET colleges, Nzimande said. He would make their locations known later.