Cutting social grants, freezing the roll-out of RDP houses and increasing taxes. These are just some of the drastic measures government is considering to find the money to fund free higher education, according to Mail & Guardian on Friday.
Senior officials told Mail & Guardian that the presidential fiscal committee had detailed these options in a document given to President Jacob Zuma. The committee is looking into ways to fund free higher education, estimated to cost around R30-billion. It was established to help government get the economy back on track.
Other options include halving the armys's budget and freezing civil servant wage increases, as well as increasing VAT and reducing the number of government departments.
A senior official reportedly told Mail & Guardian: "Government is working around all the options on providing free education, you do need to cut somewhere, so that's been a challenge."
An official confirmed what was reported by Times Live this week: Zuma is considering a policy proposal by an unofficial advier, Morris Masutha, who is reportedly engaged to one of his daughters.
Times Live reported that Zuma was about to make a shock announcement introducing free higher education across the board. The report said Masutha is engaged to Zuma's daughter, Thuthukile Zuma, from his marriage to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Masutha's plan reportedly relies heavily on cutting government departments.
Addressing the National Council of Provinces on Thursday, Times Live reported that Zuma said he would be announcing his decisions on the Heher commission report soon. The commission was set up to investigate the possibility of free education and has not been released yet. A leaked version reported on by City Press revealed that the commission did not recommend free education, but recommended overhauling the funding model.
The Presidency's Dr Bongani Ngqulunga did not respond to specific questions put to him by Mail & Guardian but said: "The interministerial committee responsible for the funding of higher education, chaired by the minister in the presidency, working with the presidential fiscal committee, is assisting the president to process the Heher commission report. The president will make an announcement soon on the report."