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Nzimande awaits Zuma return before explaining fees plan

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Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande will wait for President Jacob Zuma to return from abroad to tell the country where the money to cover a shortfall in higher education funding will come from.

The funding shortfall arises from President Zuma’s decision that there would be no fee increases at tertiary institutions in 2016.

On Tuesday, Nzimande told the National Assembly that details on how the R2.6bn shortfall would be covered would be provided on Thursday afternoon after a meeting in the Presidency.

Nzimande’s spokesperson, Khaye Nkwanyana, however, said on Thursday morning the announcement “would probably only happen next week” because it would be made together with Zuma, who is currently in India for the India-Africa Forum Summit.

Last Friday, Zuma announced that the fees would not go up – in line with demands by protesting university students for a 0% increase. The announcement broke the back of the #FeesMustFall protest which had shut down campuses countrywide.

But some students kept pushing to have broader demands met, like an end to outsourcing labour, and for no fees to be paid at all.

The protests started dying down on Thursday, with students keen to write their exams.

Nzimande earlier said the department had identified money that could be reprioritised, and wealthier universities said they would contribute.

Funding models that have been considered include more money from the private sector, a wealth tax and a graduate tax. During a march from Johannesburg to Sandton on Wednesday, the Economic Freedom Fighters called on companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to each put 100 students through university.

But the Congress of the People felt the delay was a sign that Nzimande is ”clueless” about where the money is coming from.

”Day by day, he is losing the confidence of both students and the nation. In our view, the President should sack him,” said Cope MP Dennis Bloem. News24

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