MPs called for the cutting of VIP service budgets for government executives saying that the money would be better spent on student fees.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa came under fire in Parliament on Thursday after DA MP Mmusi Maimane took to the podium and called for the cutting of the VIP services budget.
“Can’t we cut VIP services at R720m from [Dirco] … cut that budget and finance the students for next year so that we can deal with the shortfall,” Maimane asked Ramaphosa in the QA session.
To an uproar from other MPs Maimane said that his solution was “tangible” and that rather than having a “very secure executive” the students should be funded.
The deputy president was briefing Parliament on the government’s plan to address the funding shortfall at universities.
Earlier on Thursday Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said President Jacob Zuma would announce the members of a commission of inquiry into student fees.
Ramaphosa said that the commission would bring together “students, university administrators, parents, and other entities that deal with education”.
He said that Treasury and the private sector would need to play a key role in finding the money that would underlie any decision that was going to be taken.
Thousands of students demonstrated nationwide for almost two weeks in a #FeesMustFall campaign, which led to clashes with riot police at Parliament in Cape Town and at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
After meeting with student and university leaders on October 23, Zuma agreed to leave tuition fees unchanged and committed to investigating issues which are preventing the poor from accessing higher education.
The government has set up a presidential task team to consider the zero percent increase and the current National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) shortfall.
According to university figures the no-fee increase in 2016 would lead to a shortfall of R2.33bn.
Another R37bn would be needed for the estimated 25.5% of enrolments that NSFAS would need to cover for 2016, 2017 and 2018, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande told the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Dane McDonald, Fin24
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