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Opposition parties blame ANC govt for fees crisis

MPs today debated higher education funding, under the title ‘fee crisis’ in the National Assembly.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress-led government has come under fire from opposition parties in Parliament for its handling of the current fees crisis in higher education.

Members of Parliament (MPs) today debated higher education funding, under the title "fee crisis" in the National Assembly.

The debate took taking place against the backdrop of protests by students in several universities and other institutions of higher learning.

At the same time, a commission of inquiry is looking into the feasibility of fee-free education.

The African Christian Democratic Party's Cheryllyn Dudley says the party's concerned about arson at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

"We call on the Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande to respond by demonstrating that these issues will have serious consequences, while engaging with students on issues of concern."

ANC MP Friddah Nkadimeng has defended the ruling party.

"NSFAS plays an important role to enable poor students to access higher education, ensure students' success, foundation provisioning grant, teaching development grant."

OPPOSITION PARTIES TAKE A SWIPE AT MINISTER NZIMANDE

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's absence from Parliament during the debate on university fees was criticised by opposition parties.

Deputy Higher Education minister Mduduzi Manana delivered government's response in the National Assembly discussion on higher education funding.

Concern was raised over the decline in government funding of universities.

The debate took place against the backdrop of protests by students in several universities and other institutions of higher learning.

DA MP Belinda Bozzoli was first to notice Nzimande's absence.

"Even Minister Nzimande, who I noticed hasn't even bothered to pitch up to this debate, acknowledged to our committee recently that it has indeed been a mistake to expand the system so rapidly without sufficient funding."

Congress of the People's Deider Carter was also not impressed with the minister's "no show".

"We are debating a matter of national importance and I am asking myself, 'where is the minister?' So whilst Rome and our tertiary institutions of higher education burn , President Jacob Zuma and his minions fiddle; playing an intra-party brinkmanship game of 'factional survivor'."

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu however defended Nzimande, saying, "The minister is indeed on duty and there is an acting minister in the form of honourable Naledi Pandor in the Department of Higher Education."

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