The ANC has told Pres. Zuma to include Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his task team convened to deal with the protests crippling tertiary institutions.

This was part of its national working committee’s (NWC) proposals to government as it tried to ensure the academic year was not lost due to protests on campuses countrywide, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said on Tuesday.

Pres. Zuma was asked to include the ministers of finance, social development, and housing in the task team, to ensure it was “a little bit more comprehensive”.

The presidency announced on October 11 that he had set up a task team of the ministers of home affairs, state security, police, defence, planning and monitoring, and justice, to help Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande end protests at universities.

The NWC said government and universities should immediately end financial exclusion, scrap registration fees and interest on current loans, and allow students not on the NSFAS and who owed their universities money to graduate and receive their certificates. This would allow the rest of the 2016 academic year to be salvaged, the NWC believed.

The NWC wanted the task team to review Nzimande’s R600 000 income threshold and make it more “scientific and realistic”.

Duarte said Nzimande’s proposal was an interim measure to deal with the “intense aggression” at universities. It however failed to take into account the “black tax” – the money black income earners had to use to support their needy relatives.

The ANC gave no clear deadline on delivering free education. Duarte said they must “progressively increase access to free and quality education for the poor and working class”.

She said students’ concerns were legitimate, but urged them to distance themselves from the violence at some institutions.

“We must save this academic year, all students must go back to school, students must write their exams. We must not waste this year.”

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