Nzimande said the many committee meetings takes time away from him and his team doing their work.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Friday complained that he is called to appear before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation too often.

“You meet with my DG (director general) five times more than I am able to meet with my DG,” he said.

He said his team spent too much time in Parliament which meant they weren’t able to get as much work done as they would like.

“In order to account, we must account for work that we are able to do.”

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The minister made these remarks as he announced that he only had 10 minutes to answer questions from committee members as he had to leave the portfolio committee meeting to join a Cabinet meeting.

‘Refrain from policing the committee’

Committee chair Nompendulo Mkhatshwa said Nzimande “must engage with the chair of chairs” if he feels Parliament does not allow “afford them sufficient time to do their work”.

“We are guided as committees on how to go about our work by the Parliamentary programme,” she said.

EFF MP Mandla Shikwambana took issue with what the minister said. He asked Nzimande to “refrain from policing the committee on how to operate”.

“Half of the time the minister speaks, he wants to teach us on how to do our work,” said Shikwambana.

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The MP said it was not the first time Nzimande had complained about the committee taking up his time and calling his staff to account.

Watch the Parliamentary meeting here:

Nzimande responded by saying Shikwambana has got what he was saying “completely wrong”.

“The fact that I’m raising that sometimes we’ve felt that every week being in the portfolio committee does have some negative effect on the amount of work that [we’re able to do]. It’s not just appearing; we have to prepare.”

He added he was not trying to be hostile.

“I’m not raising this in a criticism to the committee… The portfolio committee must also understand the impact that holding meetings in a particular way has on our work.  

“It’s something we must discuss because it does pose certain challenges on our side. Now, if I don’t raise it here, where do you expect me to raise it? In a rally? I can’t do that.” 

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Budget cuts

Nzimande also said his department was monitoring the enrolment plans from South Africa’s universities, but he was concerned about budget cuts.

He said this could affect the number of students enrolling at universities and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) applications.

“We are awaiting the National Treasury’s letter on budget cuts which are likely to have a further impact on enrolments – and we hope not on Nsfas, but we can’t rule that out,” he said.

He added that his department still hasn’t finalised financial matters after Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s medium-term budget statement on 1 November.


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