Fees report 'hopefully' out next week – Cabinet

Minister says there would be implications following the report's release, both in terms of costs and legislation

Fees report 'hopefully' out next week - Cabinet

2 November 2017

Cape Town - The much-anticipated report into the feasibility of free higher education could be out next week.

Minister of Communications Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane told journalists on Thursday that Cabinet received a briefing this week on the status of the Heher Commission report.

"That is going to be released, hopefully, next week. That was the time frame," she said during a post-Cabinet briefing in Parliament.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in 2016 after Fees Must Fall protests around the country turned violent and disrupted classes.

The commission presented its report to Zuma in August already, but it has still not been made public.

A copy was recently leaked to the media ahead of exams, which has put Zuma under even more pressure to release it.

The delay

However, Kubayi said: "There were issues that Cabinet asked to deal with, hence the delay. There was an intention to brief South Africans on the report this week, but it will be done quite soon."

Kubayi-Ngubane hinted that there would be implications following the report's release, both in terms of costs and legislation.

The Presidential Fiscal Committee will sit to interrogate the financial implications of the report before its release, she said, while the higher education department will have to review relevant policies and legislation, where necessary.

Cabinet did not focus on reports in the media this week that Secret Service account money had been used to fund certain aspects of the Fees Must Fall movement in 2016.

News24 reported this week that the Inspector General of Intelligence and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) were investigating the claims.

"We didn't look at the Fees Must Fall protests or those issues. We didn't go into that. We only discussed the report on how to fund higher education," Kubayi-Ngubane said.

The fees protests

Former higher education minister Blade Nzimande revealed this week that some of his "own comrades" actively fuelled protests at the universities as part of a bid to remove him.

He said it was also a result of a backlash against the South African Communist Party, which has been critical of Zuma.

Nzimande is no longer a member of Cabinet.

City Press reported this week that the 748-page document revealed that free tertiary education will not be feasible in the foreseeable future.

Instead, a multipronged and multilayered approach was suggested, which will take into account South Africa’s struggling economy and competing demands on the fiscus, for deserving students.