South Africa's Zuma says has no plans to announce free education programme

President Jacob Zuma gestures as he addresses the parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Nov 2, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
President Jacob Zuma gestures as he addresses the parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Nov 2, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

JOHANNESBURG (REUTERS) - South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has no plans to announce a programme for free higher education until he reviews the report of a commission studying the feasibility of such a programme, his office said in a statement on Sunday (Nov 12).

The rand slipped to a one-year low on Friday amid reports Zuma was preparing to introduce free higher education, which would put added pressure on public finances.

Zuma's office rejected a report by the newspaper Sunday Times that he had planned to announce the 40 billion-rand (S$3.8 billion) education plan during his State of the Nation Address last February.

"The President waited for the Commission to conclude its business," the presidency said in a statement.

"At no stage did he plan to make any announcements that would undermine the work of the Commission."

The Mail & Guardian newspaper said on Friday the government was considering a range of budget cuts to pay for free tertiary education. Those cuts might include social grants for the most vulnerable and the budgets for housing, infrastructure and the armed forces, the newspaper said.