Addressing Parliament during a debate on the issue of university fees on Tuesday‚ Nzimande repeated government’s message that free education for all is not possible and that government has worked hard to ensure that the poor and the so-called missing middle are able to access higher education.
As an example‚ he said‚ 75% of students at the University of Johannesburg either paid no fees‚ or very little in fees. At the University of Fort Hare‚ 90% of students fell into this category.He said that the public service would suffer heavily if universities did not complete the academic year.
“If the 2016 trainee teachers do not graduate‚ about 20 000 classrooms will be without teachers at the beginning of next year. Junior doctors‚ those that are hoping to graduate this year‚ are at the front line of service delivery in public sector hospitals.”
But EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu said the idea that free education was impossible was an “ideologically bankrupt one” in an outdated and “constipated” system.
He said that a small levy should be charged on retirement funds‚ which according to his calculations‚ would create about R100 billion in funding.
He said the Public Investment Corporation‚ which invests the pension funds of government employees‚ had managed to make multi-billion rand investments into companies and so should be able to pay such a levy.
This amount‚ coupled with government’s approximately R33 billion in funding through the department and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and increased corporate taxes could create around R163 billion in income to fund university education.
The IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa meanwhile called on the entire ANC caucus to resign‚ saying that the promises of free higher education the party had made‚ were lies.
“You were elected on the basis of lies” he said.
The DA’s Belinda Bazzoli said the ANC and its policies were complicit in creating the current heated situation seen on campuses around South Africa.
“The ANC has dithered like the 100-year-old lady that it is” she said.