Nzimande on free higher education: ‘Where is the money going to come from?’

Blade Nzimande (File, City Press)

SACP General Secretary Blade Nzimande has slammed President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of free tertiary education during his address at the Joe Slovo commemoration held at the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto on Saturday morning.

Nzimande, the former Minister of higher education who was in the spotlight during #FeesMustFall protests, said while the move was welcomed, there was no indication where the money would be coming from.

“It is very important the announcement made by Zuma must be clarified as a matter of urgency. If we don’t handle this correctly, a train is coming,” he said.

“Can we afford free Higher Education, as announced on the 16th of December, and at the same time have a nuclear deal? Can we do these things? Where is this money going to come from?” he asked.

“We want to say now as the SACP we are not going to allow the increase of VAT to fund this higher education, or allow fees to be taken from UIF or PIC to fund it,” he said,

Nzimande said to do so would essentially be saying the poor must fund their own children’s higher education.

He also questioned why the ANC had been quiet on the issue, saying there should be calls for registrations to be done in accordance with agreed upon, and not to allow the EFF’s opportunism to derail the issue.

“Higher education must be transformed and not destroyed,” he said.

Nzimande congratulated the class of 2017, but said it was also important that learners realise university was not the only option available to them.

“As a country we must reflect, are we not putting too much pressure on individuals? We must make sure we don’t put undue pressure on these young people,” he said.

Judicial Enquiry into State Capture urgent

Nzimande said the SACP’s position on the judicial enquiry into state capture was clear, and that the matter must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“We want immediate decisive action to stop corruption and wide spread corporate state capture.
We are being kind in how we define state capture, it is actually treason,” he said.

Nzimande said Zuma’s appeal against the State Capture ruling compromised the integrity of the ANC.

READ: Judge erred on state capture ruling, Zuma says in court papers

“It is clear he is conflicted, you can’t appoint a commission to investigate yourself,” he said.

Nzimande said Zuma was only delaying the inevitable.

He also lambasted the alliance’s leadership for allowing themselves to reach a position where the judiciary was compelled to grant relief, when the leadershi could have taken action themselves.

“We are opening ourselves up for the judiciary to make decisions on our behalf,” he said.

There can’t be two centres of power

Earlier in the day, Cosatu General Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali called for members to continue to support the ANC, but said that the newly elected ANC NEC had to look at how to implement the judicial commission of enquiry into state capture.

“There can’t be two centres power, there must be one president. President Zuma must step down,” he said.

ANC National Chairperson Gwede Mantashe, speaking before Nzimande, said there was a cult of personality developing within the ANC and this was killing the ANC and the movement.

“Once we start worshipping them, we can’t question them and they become bigger than the organisation,” he said.

Mantashe reiterated his call that the organisation must rid itself of corruption, saying that when this was done, they would realise that state capture was not a myth.

Calls for Zuma’s head will cause ANC to close rank

Mantashe said immediately after the election, there had been calls for Zuma to be replaced, referring to Archbishop Thabo Makgoba in particular.

READ: Archbishop Makgoba calls on new ANC leadership to replace Zuma as head of state

Mantashe called on the members to give the new ANC NEC a chance, saying calls to remove Zuma would only cause the ANC to close ranks.