Nzimande responds to DA’s “failure to answer Parli questions” comments


Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has reportedly lashed out at the Democratic Alliance (DA) over allegations that he is not prepared to answer questions in Parliament.

In a statement on Tuesday, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education Belinda Bozzoli accused Nzimande of showing little interest in resolving the university funding crisis for 2016, by skipping Parliamentary questions in favour of attending a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) conference.

“Unsurprisingly, (the) Minister has deemed it fit to abdicate his responsibilities. It is disgraceful and a slap in the face for the thousands of South African students who desperately need access to higher education that this shortfall is likely to preclude them from next year,” she said, before branding Nzimande as a “man without a plan” on how to source the R2.7-billion needed to fund poor students next year.

Nzimande, who was present in Parliament on Wednesday, rebuked Bozzoli’s comments as “unacceptable” while answering a question put to him.

“I am not scared to confront the DA on any matter that relates to the department of higher education,” he was quoted as saying.

Bozzoli has meanwhile criticised Nzimande’s decision to use a reported R2.33-billion from the Historically Disadvantaged Institutions grant to secure the money needed, after President Jacob Zuma’s announcement that fees would not increase by the Department’s proposed six percent.

“We were dismayed to find that the department is expected to find this money out of its own coffers and that no additional money would be coming from National Treasury to assist the chronically underfunded department in what remains of the 2015 financial year,” Bozzoli said.

“It is shocking that the department has not requested assistance from National Treasury to cover even a portion of the shortfall (R475-million), when it is clear that there is at least R900 million in frivolous and unnecessary expenditure available for redistribution in the Medium Term Budget”.