PARLIAMENT, November 9 – President Jacob Zuma on Thursday said an announcement on the findings of the Heher commission, which investigated the possibility of providing free higher education in South Africa, was imminent.
In his annual address to the National Council of Provinces, one of the two houses of the South African Parliament, Zuma said: “Funding for further education, the interministerial committee responsible for higher education funding, chaired by the minister in the presidency, working with the presidential fiscal committee, are assisting me in processing the report of the Heher commission.”
“I will be making an announcement soon on the report.”
Last month, students marched to Parliament to demand Zuma release the report after it was leaked, with reports in Sunday newspapers that the commission found free higher education was not feasible because the country could not afford it.
The media earlier this week reported that Zuma was pushing for a plan by his future son-in-law Morris Masutha on free higher education to be adopted.
The plan could reportedly lead to the budgets of departments across the State to be significantly trimmed to make R40 billion available for free higher education in 2018.
Furthermore, President Jacob Zuma on Thursday called on South Africans to be patriotic and not criticise their country but rather to work together to fight inequality and reverse the impact of apartheid.
“We have a responsibility to promote our country externally and to solve whatever problems we have internally in a patriotic and responsible manner,” Zuma said In his televised annual address to Parliament’s National Council of Provinces (NCOP). “Attacking South Africa and bad-mouthing the country when she is most vulnerable is irresponsible, especially if done by South Africans themselves.”
The President went on to list free services provided by government to the poor, including social grants, free and subsidised housing and healthcare, free basic education for poor children and free municipal services, as being among government’s achievements.
Poverty, said Zuma, was a result of the difficult economic climate and the legacy of apartheid “which has created a huge gap between the rich and the poor”.
“We know that many among the privileged classes become angry when we speak about the reality of the apartheid legacy as they want it to be forgotten. We will continue to work hard to reverse the horrible impact of this legacy,” he said.
“It is correct that the income level of a white household remains six times higher than that of a black household. Together, we must fight and defeat this inequality as it seriously affects our path towards reconciliation, improving living conditions.”
– African News Agency (ANA)