President Jacob Zuma is planning on announcing free tertiary education across the board that directly contradicts the findings of the Heher Commission of Inquiry into free tertiary education, Times Live reported on Tuesday.
Government insiders reportedly said the announcement was imminent, but the Presidency told Times Live on Monday night that there were no plans for any announcements on Tuesday.
The Heher Commission was instituted following the #FeesMustFall protests of 2015 to investigate the feasibility of free higher education. Its report has yet to be released by Zuma, but it is believed that it says free higher education is not feasible, and recommends that the higher education funding model be overhauled.
City Press previously reported that the 748-page report recommends a multipronged approach to the issue, taking into account competing demands on the fiscus.
Universities, opposition parties and Parliament are among those which have called for Zuma to release the report, which he received on August 30, and which the presidency says Zuma has been studying ever since.
According to the report, a new presidential adviser known as "Masutha", who is engaged to Zuma's daughter, has spoken to various ministers, including new Higher Education Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and her deputy, Buti Manamela, on a new plan which would completely overhaul Treasury's budget.
The plan reportedly includes huge cutbacks to departmental budgets to find the money for free education. Ministry in the Presidency director-general Mpumi Mpofu reportedly is working with a team from Treasury to "find the money for Zuma", Times Live reported.
Zuma reportedly believes Masutha, who is 28 years old and has recently graduated with a master's degree in local economic development, has found the solution to free higher education. Zuma has reportedly disregarded the Heher report and Treasury's advice.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa told Times Live that he did not know of any plans by Zuma to announce free education.