‘The wealthy should be taxed to fund higher education’

Blade Nzimande says govt must have the political will to tax the rich to fund higher education.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - As government works out how to make up the funding shortfall of South African universities, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has told Members of Parliament (MPs) the wealthy should be taxed to fund the sector.

Nzimande was speaking during a fiery Parliamentary debate on the crisis at universities on Tuesday.

He's come under fire from opposition politicians for being absent during the height of student protests and for not showing leadership.

Nzimande says government must have the political will to tax the rich to fund higher education.

"None of us must develop cold feet about the necessity of taxing the rich to fund our children."

He says details of how government will cover the funding shortfall created by the freeze on university fee increases for 2016, will be made known this week.

LISTEN: Blade Nzimande: Hunt on for 2016 fee shortfall

MPs ECHO #FeesMustFall

Opposition politicians in Parliament have echoed the 'Fees Must Fall' call made by protesting students around the country.

Speaking in the debate on Monday, the Economic Freedom Fighters called for free education, the Democratic Alliance said a freeze on fee increases next year won't address the continued financial exclusion of many poor students and the Inkatha Freedom Party called for the higher education minister to step aside.

The United Democratic Movement's Nqabayomzi Kwankwa says his party supported the students calls for free higher education.

"Government should redirect some of the money that is sitting with sitters, to higher education and make free education a reality as these sitters are increasingly becoming ineffective and prime urgency for the ruling party and its cronies."

Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota says, "We want zero fees. When our forebears promised that the doors will be opened for all, they meant that all the children of this country will have to have action to education without all this drama."

WATCH: The day fees 'fell'

Opposition MPs have blamed Nzimande for the current crisis, amid media reports that he has withheld a report on how free tertiary education can be made viable.

The minister has denied that he suppressed the report.