The year 2017 has been an important one in the struggle against corruption, including the widespread problem of corporate state capture, the SACP said on Wednesday.
“As society we made progress. Victory is now visibly certain. To all South Africans across all walks of life, the SACP says let us intensify the battle to root out corruption both in the state and industry as a whole. The important role that can be played by immediate establishment of an independent judicial commission of inquiry into state capture cannot be overemphasised,” said SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo in a statement.
The SACP commended government for speeding up the progressive rollout of free education at all levels since 1994.
“The number of South Africans with college and university qualifications robustly increased following an increase in funding for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) from R2.4bn in 2008 to R15bn in 2017 and the extension of coverage to the previously unfunded college students,” Mashilo said.
The party also welcomed further expansion of access to higher education and training through the accelerated rollout of free education for students from poor and working-class households.
“On 16 December government announced a plan to broaden the scope of eligibility from an old to a new threshold further benefitting the working class. Students from households with a combined annual income of not more than R350 000 will accordingly be eligible for fully subsidised access to public higher education and training institutions with existing NSFAS packages converted from loans to 100% grants for further years of qualifying study,” he said.
‘Zuma’s motives must not overshadow announcement’
However, Mashilo said the issue of where the money would come from was of great importance and must be clarified as a matter urgency.
“The SACP is concerned about the silence of President Jacob Zuma on where the money will come from. We hope that this will not amount to increasing VAT or recklessly using workers’ money either in the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) or the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).”
He said doing so would be tantamount to robbing the poor instead of fairly redistributing production income by taxing the rich and the wealthy to fund the education of students from poor and working-class background.
“Last but not least, the fact that President Jacob Zuma appeared opportunistic and possibly harbouring other motives by making the announcement on the eve of the highly contested 54th national conference of the ANC should not be allowed to subvert the importance of the accelerated rollout of free education to students from working class and poor households. Until the announcement, further expansion of access to higher education and training was held up by nothing other than structural underfunding of the higher education and training department,” he added.
The SACP also wished all South Africans a prosperous 2018.
“To millions of workers who take their annual leave during this time of a yearly production shutdown in the absence of no other opportunity to do so, the SACP says have a well-deserved rest and a joyous festive season. To public servants, workers in essential services and other sectors of the economy where service delivery, production and trade are going on, the SACP says you have the party’s support. Our national economy, including service delivery, primarily depends on and is driven by the labour of workers.”