Business Live reported that President Jacob Zuma has not yet received the Fees Commission report for 2017. Eye Witness Live added that the deadline was extended to 30 June to “allow more time for research and consultation”. This makes the report delayed by almost two months. The Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga told Business Live that the report had not yet reached President Zuma as “It is up to the commission to do the handover and they will decide when that is.” According to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s website the Fees Commission “was established in terms of section 84(2) (f) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996”. The South African Government News Agency’s website adds that the Fees Commission is to “investigate the feasibility of free higher education and training in South Africa”. The Commission is chaired by retired Judge Jonathan Arthur Heher and began its work in 2016.
Speaking to the publication, Spokesperson to the Commission Musa Ndwandwe said he “[could not] divulge whether the Presidency has the report or not,” adding that the Fees Commission’s mandate is only to compile the report and that it is the President’s “prerogative” to share its findings with the public. However, he did share with Business Live that at the moment, free higher education is unaffordable, and that “universities relied heavily on fee increases because the government’s contribution had declined in real terms over the years”.
President Jacob Zuma formed the commission following pressure from the 2015 Fees must Fall protests. He also announced that institutions of higher learning would have a 0% fee increase for 2016. Telling Business Live, Ndwandwe said “there is an incorrect perception that [the commission is] yet another ‘ploy’ by Zuma to frustrate students’ demands for the immediate implementation of free higher education”.