Zuma’s crazy R40-billion free education plan
President Jacob Zuma’s populist free higher education plan, which will cost the country R40 billion, will plunge South Africa into an economic crisis. This is according to a report by the Sunday Times, which said Zuma intended to announce the plan last week. TimesLive reported last week that Zuma’s plan defied all recommendations and findings which stated that South Africa cannot afford to cover the cost of free education.
The report suggested that Zuma planned to make up the required R40 billion by cutting back departmental budgets across the government. The Mail & Guardian reported the plan will involve drastic budget cuts, including cutting social grants, freezing the rollout of RDP houses, and increasing taxes. With the growing budget shortfall, and a looming ratings downgrade, it is a particularly bad idea to announce such a plan at this time.
Unsurprisingly, the brakes were put on the plan by senior government officials who warned of dire consequences should the president implement it. The free education plan was reportedly drawn up by Morris Masutha, the former boyfriend of Zuma’s daughter, Thuthukile. There are also fears that Zuma is working on a “parallel budget”, outside of what the Treasury is doing, to incorporate free higher education and the R1-trillion nuclear deal.