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President Zuma receives report on feasibility of free education

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma has received the interim report on the feasibility of free higher education and training in the country, the Presidency said on Thursday.

The report was submitted following a new wave of nationwide student protests over fee increases, which were expected not to exceed eight percent for the 2017 academic year.

The president established a Commission on studying the feasibility in January this year, which was expected to complete its task within eight months. However, after the amendment of its terms of reference, the Commission has been given an extension to complete its work by 30 June 2017.

Judge Jonathan Heher, Chairperson of the Commission, has submitted the Interim Report to the president, after only three of the proposed eight sets into which the Commission had divided its work have been completed, presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.

The Interim Report contains the following three sets: an overview by stakeholders of the terms of reference of the Commission, post-school education and training in South Africa, and the funding of institutions of higher education and training as well as their operational costs.

“President Zuma will study the interim report and give direction on the way forward,”  Ngqulunga said.

South African universities have been hard hit by student protests for weeks. Although classes have resumed at some universities, sporadic protests continued. Student leaders have threatened to paralyze higher institutions of learning if their demand for zero percent fee increase is not met.

Students further demand that the government provides free education as promised by the ruling African National Congress years ago. 



South Africa ruling ANC welcomes “state capture” report

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday welcomed the release of the “state capture” report, saying it “provides concrete basis to move forward.”

The report, released on Wednesday, relates to allegations of improper and unethical conduct by President Jacob Zuma and other state functionaries during removal and appointment of cabinet ministers and executives of state-owned enterprises.

The report sheds light on how the Indian Gupta family may have influenced appointment of cabinet ministers and several board directors at state-owned enterprises, including Eskom, Denel, South Africa Aiways (SAA) and Transnet.

The 355-page report implicates Zuma, his son Duduzane, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen and Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane, among others.

Van Rooyen and Zwane were appointed in 2015 as a result of undue influence by the Gupta family, according to the report.

The report provides a concrete basis for the ANC and the society in general to discuss the allegations contained therein and deal with its outcomes, the party said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

“We are further pleased by the activism that civil society in general has shown in joining the fight against graft,” ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

The fight against corruption is not a fight against government, and it requires all stakeholders—particularly business—to commit to ending the vicious cycle, Kodwa said.

The ANC reiterates the decision of the last meeting of the National Executive Committee to introduce lifestyle audits for all leaders of the ANC at all levels, according to Kodwa.

Under the decision, the national officials of the ANC will also be making declarations of all their interests to the Secretary General.

These are some of the immediate initiatives the ANC is undertaking to expose and root out corruption, Kodwa said.

The ANC further called on those in the leadership to unite and guide the movement to be at the head of the process of change.

“We further call on all leaders and structures of the ANC to remain vigilant against interests that would seek to use proximity to the ANC and its deployed cadres for the pursuit of selfish interests,” Kodwa said.


South Africa to push relations with Zimbabwe to higher level: Presidency

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa is to further push relations with Zimbabwe to a higher level, the Presidency said on Tuesday.

For this purpose, President Jacob Zuma will visit Harare to attend the inaugural session of the South Africa-Zimbabwe Bi-National Commission, scheduled for November 3, presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.

South Africa and Zimbabwe have good bilateral political, economic and social relations that are underpinned by strong historical ties dating back from the years of the liberation struggle.

The two countries will henceforth conduct their bilateral relations through a structured Bi-National Commission (BNC) signed in 2015 during President Mugabe’s state visit to South Africa, said Ngqulunga.

“South Africa and Zimbabwe not only share strong historical relations but also economic cooperation to the extent that the economies of the two countries are historically and inextricably link,” he said in a statement.

To date, the two countries have signed more than 38 memoranda of understanding and agreements, which were coordinated through the then Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) and the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security (JPCDS) which were established in 1995 and 2005 respectively.

The MOUs and agreements cover a broad range of areas, which include among others, trade and investment, immigration and consular matters, defence, agriculture, the environment, energy, health, as well as art and culture.

There are over 120 South African companies doing business in Zimbabwe in various sectors including mining, aviation, tourism, banking, the property, retail, construction and the fast food sector.


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