Nene says parents, society have role to play in free education battles

Nene says that as a former student activist he can understand the students’ passion and calls for change.

Former Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, delivering the 2015 MTBPS Speech in Parliament 21 October 2015. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene says the battle that protesting university students are fighting is one that will ultimately weigh on parents and civil society at large.

Nene was speaking at the Gordon Institute of Business in Johannesburg last night in a panel discussion about trust in business.

Nene has since been working for Thebe Investment Corporation and Allan Gray after he was abruptly fired as finance minister in December last year.

He says that as a former student activist he can understand the protesting students' passion and calls for change.

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But he says it is the parents of students and society at large who will ultimately pay for free education should the money be made available.

"And if we say our kids must fight the battles of lowering the fees, which means we're saying we can't afford. But are we going to afford higher taxes?

"Are we going to afford sacrificing some of what might have been our nice projects that we think are bigger than education itself? So I think we all have a role to play."

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Nene also says people often quote leaders such as Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela because we are running out of living role models.