The ANC’s critics are creating the impression that the party has done nothing to improve access to higher education, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday.
“People refer to the Freedom Charter and they read the headline, stop there, and say therefore you are offering free education,” he said at the opening of the Black Management Forum’s annual conference in Midrand.
However, the authors of the document said access to university education should be granted on merit, he said. Basic education should be free and compulsory.
He said his comments recently that universities should be closed for six months if destruction of property on campuses continued, had opened him up to insults.
“Some of you send me messages,” he said.
Mantashe told journalists on the sidelines of a trade union conference in Cape Town last month that if he was higher education minister he would shut down universities for six months to teach students a lesson. ANC Youth League president Collen Maine said his comments were reckless.
“When you go to university, you are not doing it for Blade, you are doing it for yourself,” Mantashe said, referring to the higher education minister.
He told the audience that when his daughter lost focus on her studies, he allowed her to take a gap year. She subsequently did well in both her academic career and personal life.
He said the party was open to suggestions regarding Gauteng’s e-toll system. It was adding to the middle class’s debt and bond repayments.
He called on young professionals to come up with ideas about e-tolls, instead of demonstrating against the party and threatening to teach it a lesson in the 2019 elections.