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Fees Must Fall Reloaded

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Fees Must Fall Reloaded

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Mzansi’s higher education budget for the 2015/16 financial year is R30 billion. If the government were to spend 1% of GDP on higher education, this would amount to R41 billion. That’s almost four times the reported shortfall caused by 2016’s freeze on fee increases. Let us pressure the government to make the correct choices that will resolve Fees Must Fall.


Fees Must Fall Reloaded
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Our leaders had a year to meet the demands of Fees Must Fall, and they have failed. But we have an opportunity to change this. This time last year we didn't have the ‘no-fee’ varsity report released, or had commitments from government to address illicit financial flows, but this year we do. That’s why we are calling for Minister Nzimande to stop stalling and implement his own no-fee varsity report, and for Minister Gordhan to commit at least 1% of Mzansi’s GDP to higher education.

Last October, thousands of amandla.mobi members rallied together and forced Minister Nzimande to release the No-Fees Varsity Report. The report sets out 12 recommendations showing how free university education for students from low income households can be provided [1]. This affirms the demands of the student movement collectively known as ‘Fees Must Fall’ and proves that the Minister can take decisive action to put an end to financial exclusion in higher education.

Since the release of the report we have been pushing to shift the public debate towards calls for Minister Nzimande to progressively implement the recommendations of the report. The time to stop overlooking us has come! Academics have spoken out on the chronic underfunding of Mzansi’s universities [2]. In fact, Mzansi’s government spends below the continent’s average on higher education, at 0.75% of its GDP. The proportion of GDP for Senegal and Ghana is 1.4% [3].

Mzansi’s higher education budget for the 2015/16 financial year is R30 billion. If the government were to spend 1% of GDP on higher education, this would amount to R41 billion. That’s almost four times the reported shortfall caused by 2016’s freeze on fee increases [3].

Last week’s recommendation by the Department of Higher Education and Training recommended that university fees for 2017 should not be increased by more than 8% is in stark contrast to the events of last year where the government instructed universities on what to do. It is an open invitation for universities to determine what margin they increase fees by, provided that they remain within the Minister Nzimande’s recommendation. We need to shift the focus back to addressing the chronic underspending on the country’s universities.

Dear Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande,

Now that you have released the 'No-Fees Varsity' Report after 3 years, we call on you to implement its findings to ensure #FeesMustFall and #FreeEducation for low income students.

 

Dear Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan

  • We call on you to increase the state budget for universities to at least 1% of the country’s GDP. At present, our spending of 0.75% is a shame and a lousy attempt to address the inequalities of the past.

  • We call on you to act now to stop big companies and the rich from hiding their profits overseas. We support efforts to put in law mandatory country-by-country reporting by multi-nationals up to the project level. This will force companies to report on their profits and earnings even in other countries. Governments should be able to exchange financial information freely and encourage cooperation and compliance between tax administrators. There should be no excuse for tax avoidance. Former Finance Minister Nene heard our voices, and attended the UN Financing for Development summit in Addis Ababa to push for country-by-country reporting. We call on you to finish what he started including establishing public registries of the owners and beneficiaries of companies and trusts. These registers should be accessible to the public and to law enforcement authorities, therefore making it more difficult to hide the proceeds of corruption, crime and tax evasion. As a first step, we urge to require companies bidding for public sector contracts to disclose their beneficial ownership.

  • We also call on you to ensure South Africa complies with international standards to require professionals in law and accountancy, real estate, as well as company formation agents and bankers to have in place anti-money laundering procedures and report suspicions of money laundering. We also call for the establishment of more effective oversight and sanctions for these sectors. Professional bodies should withdraw professional licenses from those implicated in wrongdoing.

[1] It’s a national crisis, academics tell Nzimande, News24. Oct 22, 2015.

[2] Free education is possible if South Africa moves beyond smoke and mirrors, Salim Vally for The Conversation. Sep 21, 2016.