Businessman and ANC veteran Tokyo Sexwale says money from the Heritage Fund, that was meant to pay for free higher education, has been stolen.
Sexwale was speaking on a television interview on Sunday and said he is part of the two people that are mandated holders of the fund.
“It is a sensitive [issue] because we tried to resolve this. The Heritage Fund belongs to a very powerful family who donated the money towards health and free education.
“It [the money] comes through the South African Reserve Bank. But in the process that it is bought in the economy properly, we found some resistance. And when we checked the resistance, we found that some of this money has been stolen,” said Sexwale.
Sexwale said former president Jacob Zuma knew about this fund back in 2016 when he announced free higher education. He said the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is also aware of the fund.
“This is why Zuma spoke about free education – not government money. I believe that Zuma believed that right now we would have this fund. The fund can help with all these things the [former] president spoke about,” he said.
In 2017, Zuma announced free higher education for students from poor and working-class homes during ANC’s elective conference at Nasrec. At the time, he said the move will affect 90% of South African households.
He said the programme will start in 2018 and will be phased in over the next five years and committed to increase subsidies to universities from 0.68% to 1% of the GDP over the next five years,
At the time, Zuma said the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) packages already allocated to existing NSFAS students in their further years of study will be converted from loans to 100% grants effective immediately.
Policy analysts at the time said this was not feasible and that the country could not afford this move.
Sexwale said through this fund, free education is possible.
“The owner of the money said this money must be used for education for health, for Covid- all these things. We have just offered a few billions to Covid-19. We have given the universities a few billions to clean up this debt of their students,” he said
Adding that the matter of the missing money is now with the police and that it has been discussed with the current finance minister and the previous one.