COMMENT

ANC refuses to form part of Higher Education crisis solution – Belinda Bozzoli

DA MP says committee won't be convened because ANC members are "not available"

ANC in Parliament refuses to form part of the Higher Education Crisis solution

15 January 2018

Last week I wrote to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, Ms Cornelia September, to request that the Committee be urgently convened to discuss the funding crisis facing our higher education institutions as the academic year gets underway.

Parliament has a key role to play in ensuring that the respective Ministers are held to account for their portfolios, especially on an issue such as this and given the chaos already playing out at some institutions of higher learning.

I requested that the Ministers Higher Education and Training, National Treasury and Police brief the Committee on where the money to fund tertiary education would come from and whether there are any security plans to ensure the safety of students and prospective students across the country’s higher learning institutions.

However, the Chairperson has refused to convene the Committee, because ANC members are “not available”. If the Chairperson was genuinely committed to resolving this crisis, she could simply have directed the members to attend.

The fact is the ANC in Parliament would much rather prioritize the convenience of MPs who are elected to solve matters like this.

The ANC is clearly not serious about addressing the funding crisis caused by President Jacob Zuma. Zuma’s announcement that tertiary education would be made free for some students was seemingly only a political ploy given the lack of any clear plans.

Universities and colleges urgently need funding to pay their expenses, and cannot simply wait for the Budget Speech in February. The ANC government is still unable to tell us how much the plan will cost and which departments will see their budgets cut in order to fulfil Zuma’s wishes.

The Departments of Higher Education and Training and Treasury have passed the buck around while the EFF exploits the chaos, resulting in the injury of some applicants last week. Just this morning, chaos erupted at the Sunnyside campus of the University of South Africa, underscoring the need for the Committee to convene.

It is high time that the ANC is honest about the real costs associated with the President’s surprise announcement and admit that it caught all of their policymakers off guard

Issued by Belinda Bozzoli, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education and Training, 15 January 2018