President out of touch with Higher Education crisis – Belinda Bozzoli

DA says Minister of Finance not included in new task team, even though he will have to oversee budget process to find funding solution

Why has Pravin Gordhan been excluded from Ministerial Task Team on Higher Education?

11 October 2016

The decision to not include the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, in a newly formed Ministerial Task Team on Higher Education is baffling.

It is equally questionable as to why the President chose to include the Ministers of Home Affairs and Defence. It is clear that the President and the ANC are out of touch with the crisis engulfing our Higher Education sector.

At the heart of the crisis is the chronic under-funding of higher education over the last decade. This has resulted in Universities being forced to rely on student fees as a major source of income, making it more difficult for poor students to access tertiary education. 

The DA has been clear that Universities must re-open, and that those who break the law, should be held accountable through our criminal justice system. But this will only solve one-half of the crisis.

If the government does not provide more funding for higher education, through increased state subsidies to universities, and more support for NSFAS, fee increases will continue in the future, as will the cyclical unrest associated with it. 

If President Zuma was really serious about finding a long-term solution to this, he would have wanted his best-minds around the table, including his Minister of Finance. This is especially the case when any funding solution will have to go through the budget process, which Minister Gordhan oversees. 

One can only assume that his decision not to include such a critical minister in this team is due to internal party politics. If this is true, it shows yet again that Jacob Zuma more interested in his own power, than ensuring the future of young South Africans is protected.

Issued by Belinda Bozzoli, DA Shadow Minister of higher Education and Training, 11 October 2016