PRETORIA – Government’s precise position on the 2017 universities fees structure will only be known when ongoing processes and consultations have been finalised, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Monday.

Despite being asked several questions regarding the 2017 university fees at a post-Cabinet lekgotla media briefing in Pretoria, Radebe consistently referred to the ongoing processes of the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training chaired by Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher.

“We did discuss the issues of higher education (at the Cabinet lekgotla) as you know that education is at the apex of our priorities. But in terms of the process, the president appointed a commission headed by a judge to look more deeply into this issue and there is a process unfolding at the present moment where all stakeholders and interested parties can be able to present views on this matter of national importance,” Radebe responded.

“Cabinet, as we go towards the medium term budget policy statement…we will be able to indicate what the position of the government will be.”

Journalists pressed further, asking Radebe again whether the Cabinet lekgotla which was hosted from August 16-19 at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria deliberated on the thorny issue of the 2017 university fees.

Radebe responded: “I think I’ve already indicated in the earlier question that was asked, so my answer is the same as the one that that I’ve indicated when asked.”

Earlier this month, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande reiterated that government had not yet pronounced itself on 2017 university fees and called for patience and cool heads to prevail.

The South African Union of Students (Saus) hinted at another series of crippling mass protests after making its presentation to the Heher-led inquiry.

“We are very disappointed by the slow pace of the commission and the arrogance portrayed by Judge Heher. We are very disappointed and we are putting it on record that we have the masses of our people behind us and we are going to meet in the streets,” Saus secretary general Sthembiso Ndlovu told reporters earlier this month.

Weekend newspaper reports alleged that President Jacob Zuma has ordered that funds be raised to enable the zero percent fee increase scenario to continue into 2017.

– African News Agency

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