Magashule to students: Free higher education is ANC policy
The ANC secretary-general called on students across the country to work together on their demands, regardless of their political affiliations.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: Gallo Images.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on Thursday encouraged students at higher learning institutions to continue with their demands for free higher education, saying this has always been the policy stance of the governing party.
“Anyone of the leaders of the ANC who says free basic education is not our policy position, is not a member of the ANC. Throughout the years we have adopted this position,” Magashule said, speaking in Braamfontein, Johannesburg where he joined Wits University students protesting against financial exclusion.
Magashule said the demands by students for the scrapping of historical debt were genuine and the ANC had always called for free education.
He said students across the countries should work together regardless of their political affiliations.
“When you are students, you are all students and must work together irrespective of political parties because your demands are the same.
“When you are a leader of students in the SRC you must remember that you represent the entire student body and you don’t represent your own organisation. And that’s how you will actually win this battle,” he said.
Magashule said the party’s national working committee (NWC) met on Wednesday and discussed the student protests over funding issues.
“We have directed the government to find money and resources for your demands because your demands are genuine. You must continue with them and not think about yourselves as individuals who have. You must think about those who don’t have,” Magashule said.
“The government will today actually ensure that your demands are going to be met because we said education is priority number one. If education is priority number one, you have to invest resources as we move on into the future.”
Earlier, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) would be able to release funding and that registrations could now continue. This was despite NSFAS experiencing a funding shortfall.
“The budget has been increased from just under R36 billion last year to R42.1 billion this year,” said Nzimande.
Nzimande was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria following the death of an innocent bystander on Wednesday during student protests at Wits University.
Mthokozisi Ntumba was shot with rubber bullets, allegedly by police firing at a group of students protesting financial exclusion. The 35 year old was leaving a clinic in Braamfontein when he was shot.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is investigating.