Parliament - Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas on Tuesday cautioned against taking a “securocratic” approach to the #FeesMustFall student protest movement.
In a briefing by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to Parliament's standing committee on finance, Jonas said the student uprising that has forced protracted campus closures around the country pointed to the need for government to have a broad discussion on how it chose to allocate resources.
“FeesMustFall has helped us to open a broader discussion on how we allocate resources... Students have done well in driving this discussion,” he said.
Jonas was responding to a proposal from Economic Freedom Fighters deputy leader Floyd Shivambu that government look to the PIC in a bid to find the money to do away with tuition fees for higher education. But Jonas said it was pointless to consider “snippets” of proposals or “become securocratic in our approach”.
Instead, he said, there was a need to define “what free education means” and to consider which compromises were acceptable in order to allow the re-allocating of resources to ease the plight of students battling to pay fees set to increase by up to eight percent in 2017.
“We need a comprehensive approach to the discussion and what are the tradeoffs because ultimately we are going to need trade offs.” The Cabinet team named by President Jacob Zuma last week to resolve the impasse around higher education fee increments comprises eight ministers - including the police, state security and defence portfolios -- but notably excludes Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Cabinet has taken a hard line against the often violent student protests, warning that those responsible for the destruction of education infrastructure would be prosecuted, while acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane has said the movement has been infiltrated by forces intent on causing casualties.