The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted the announcement of free education for poor and working class students by President Jacob Zuma. This is a drastic and a welcome decision that is long overdue and provides the first step towards the envisaged free education for the poor as articulated by the Freedom Charter. COSATU has long argued that education is not only about socio-economic matter but a human rights issue that cannot be postponed indefinitely.
We look forward to engaging with the details of this decision, when the National Treasury makes them available. COSATU continues to argue that Free education is feasible if we can curb the wasteful expenditure and endemic corruption that is currently strangling this country.
Currently South Africa is losing roughly R147 billion from the money that is illegally taken out of the country per year. This is the money that can accommodate all South African students at a university level for free.
According to the Department of Economic Development corruption costs the SA gross domestic product (GDP) at least R27bn annually and the 2015 -2016 Auditor General's Report shows that irregular expenditure increased by nearly 40% last year.
We need a Tax Legislation for businesses that will contribute towards free education. The federation is supportive of an idea of the restructuring of the budget in a manner that prioritises the funding of free education but that should not undermine the country's developmental agenda. Government needs to fast track tax reform as proposed by Davis Tax Commission.
We demand the introduction of redistributive tax interventions, which will include an introduction of progressive tax system and force the super rich to contribute towards funding free education. We also want the ANC 54TH National Conference to demand that government must force universities to ensure curriculum transformation that responds to knowledge production that is appropriate to the demands of social and economic development of our African continent and our country.