The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has said they will be looking to discuss issues of free education directly with the Presidency than through the Commission of Inquiry into Free Higher Education.

This comes after the first day of the Commission’s public hearings in Pretoria.

SAUS deputy secretary general Fasiha Hassan said they wanted the direct line because they were disappointed with the commission’s lack of political power to discuss issues of free higher education.

“SAUS is now looking towards creating a direct line with the president of the republic,  particularly because this is a presidential commission and when we raise issues, stuff around decomodification, stuff around how to realise free education, we are often told that we now have to take it back to the president,” said Hassan.

She added that “If we are not going to be talking to a commission without political will then we have to take it straight to the top.”

Student activist Tasneem Essop also questioned the Commission’s purpose on Twitter.

“I don’t understand, surely #FeesCommission should be finding a feasible model for free education & not checking if free education is feasible,” she said.

The commission of inquiry was established in January by President Jacob Zuma following #FeesMustFall protests where students demanded free higher education and training. The commission was expected to submit their findings in eight months, however two weeks ago the Presidency said they would extend the due date to next year June 30.

The commission is expected to submit a preliminary report on or before November 15. The public hearings are set to continue today in Pretoria and will end in September in Kimberly.

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