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Mkhize forced to hit the ground running in new higher education portfolio

Hlengiwe Mkhize replaces Blade Nzimande and will now have to deal with the Fees Must Fall movement and free education proposals.

New Minister of Higher Education Hlengiwe Mkhize. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - New Higher Education and Training Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize will have to move fast to get to grips with her new portfolio of higher education and training.

Mkhize, appointed home affairs minister just six months ago, replaces Blade Nzimande, the general secretary of the South African Communist Party.

Nzimande is the biggest casualty of President Jacob Zuma's second Cabinet reshuffle in seven months, losing his post at a time when campuses around the country edge closer to final examinations and rising tensions over the issue of fee increases for next year.

Mkhize's spent the past six months getting to grips with home affairs, now she has another crucial portfolio to manage.

Zuma has received but not yet released, the Heher Inquiry's report on the feasibility of free tertiary education and training, something Mkhize will now have to manage.

There's also no certainty yet about whether or not fees will increase next year, while tensions on some campuses have already seen protests erupting with #FeesMustFall activists gearing for their response to the fees' commission's findings.

Mkhize leaves home affairs having suspended her director general Mkuseli Apleni who's challenging the move in court.

The select committee on social services in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday chided Mkhize for not sharing her reasons with Parliament, especially as it relates to service delivery.

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