African Times News Digital Edition | www.africantimesnews.co.za | @AfricanTimesSA
SIHLE Zikalala, the disputed leader of the ANC in Kwazulu-Natal, has lauded President Jacob Zuma for announcing the implementation of free education, saying he has honoured the commitments contained in the Freedom Charter.
In a surprise move, seen by some as a last minute attempt to win votes for ANC national executive committee (NEC) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma announced on Saturday that his government would subsidise free higher education for the poor and working class students.
“We want to thank President Jacob Zuma on the sterling leadership he has provided. The last he has done being a president of the ANC was to give our people free education.
That is a major achievement as the ANC and we should not doubt that we are guided by the Freedom Charter,” he told reporters on the side-lines of the conference at Nasrec, Gauteng.
“The Freedom Charter says the doors to learning shall be opened for all. The effort of President Zuma of ensuring free education is a move towards that noble course.”
National ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said while Zuma’s announcement was a non-issue for the ANC, it was a step in the right direction.
“Free fee education is no longer a debate in the ANC. We resolved in Mangaung. We resolved at the National Policy Conference. What we expect is implementation,” Kodwa said.
“What I think the president would have announced is implementation of that. He doesn’t need the permission of the ANC to do that because we said the government must implement, including incorporating the recommendations of the Heher Commission next year. It’s part of our effort to meet our desire for the implementation of phase one of the implementation.”
Zuma defined poor and working-class students as those currently enrolled at TVET Colleges or university students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350 000 by the 2018 academic year.
“Having amended the definition of poor and working-class students, government will now introduce fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working-class South African undergraduate students, starting in 2018 with students in their first year of study at our public universities. Students categorised as poor and working class, under the new definition, will be funded and supported through government grants, not loans,” he said.
Zuma’s decision differed from that brought forward by the Heher Commission following engagements to look into the feasibility of Free-Higher Education in the country. The Commission found that there was no capacity for the state to provide free tertiary education to all students.
The report recommended that undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges, regardless of their family background, should be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed “Income-Contingency Loans”, sourced from commercial banks.