To make matters worse, Number One decided on December 16 2016 to make an announcement of free higher education just ahead of the ANC’s elective conference.

You did not need a module in political science to see through this last-gasp attempt to influence party elections in favour of his former wife.

She wins, the president was likely to stay out of prison. She loses, orange jumpsuits were a real possibility.

When one of SA’s most distinguished executives, Sizwe Nxasana, resigned as chairperson of the board of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) because of "extreme pressure" on the system, the only question many observers of the scheme had was: "What took you so long?" NSFAS is a monster that can destroy the reputation of any good person. It remains the single most important embarrassment in the management of higher education since democracy. Unfortunately, the critical lessons to be learnt from the NSFAS debacle are often lost in emotive stories about hungry students sleeping in toilets because money from the scheme had not yet been paid out. NSFAS was poorly conceived. The basic idea was, as usual, a good one. Who could argue against a loan/bursary scheme to support poor students on grounds that once employed they pay back some or all of the money so that it circulates back into the system to support successive generations of students? But first, you have to get them to p...

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