It is not education official Qonde’s ‘competence’ to discuss Heher report
Higher education director-general Gwebinkundla Qonde ducked MPs’ questions on the Heher Commission’s report on funding tertiary education, on Wednesday.
He said he was not at liberty to discuss its contents. The report, which found that free higher education for everyone was not feasible, was leaked to the media two weeks ago, but has yet to be released by President Jacob Zuma.
"It is not our competence to talk about this. It is a matter that the President has assured us is receiving his utmost attention and quite soon pronouncements are going to be made," Qonde told parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education.
"The approach has always been … to work towards finding a more lasting solution, which requires a bit of consideration as well as processing of the issues. We are not just talking about fees … but the funding of the entire system," he said.
"That’s all we can say at this stage. Its not our report. Its the President’s report," he said.
Qonde told MPs that fee adjustments were necessary, regardless of whether education was free or not, to take into account the economic realities facing higher education institutions.
He subsequently told Business Day he had no knowledge of Zuma’s alleged plan to announce free education across the board. On Tuesday, it was reported that Zuma had been presented with a plan crafted by his future son-in-law, Morris Masutha, which proposes cutting back departmental budgets across the government to free up R40bn for the 2018 academic year.