The President said this when he made his annual address to the National Council of Provinces on Thursday afternoon.
“I am aware of the anxiety regarding the funding for higher education. As matric pupils pass, the challenge becomes funding for further education.
“The Inter-Ministerial Committee for Higher Education Funding, chaired by the Minister in the Presidency, working with the Presidential Fiscal Committee, is assisting me to process the report of the Heher Commission.
“I will be making an announcement soon on the report,” he said.
The President made his annual address to the National Council of Provinces under the theme “Deepening unity in action for inclusive growth and Africa’s renewal – reclaiming the legacy of OR Tambo”.
He paid tribute to the struggle stalwart for his selflessness in his role during the fight against the apartheid regime and for fighting for freedom.
Delivering his address, the President said a lot has been done to deliver on the promise to improve on the lives of all citizens despite a tough economic climate.
The President said to bolster growth, government needs to provide the necessary support to the sectors that can help re-ignite growth. He said the nine-point plan is being used to boost sectors such as manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, mining and telecommunications, among others.
“Also important is the need to bring industry and economic activity closer to where people live to boost investments in other centres of the country.
“Boosting the township economy and ensuring that economic activities that put food on the table are supported remains critical as we fight poverty,” he said.
The President said attracting investments remains a priority.
In this regard, he said government continues to launch Investment one-stop-shops across the country with an aim of making it easy for investors to do business in the country. These have been launched in Pretoria and Cape Town. Another will be launched in KZN this month.
“We are also implementing incentives and support services for investors through our special economic zones programme. The six Industrial Development Zones established between 2002 and 2014 have attracted about 59 investors with an investment value of more than R10 billion,” he said.
Calls to promote brand South Africa
The President said, meanwhile, that unity among key stakeholders was important during this difficult time.
He said citizens had the responsibility to promote the country externally and to solve domestic challenges internally in a patriotic and responsible manner.
“Attacking South Africa and badmouthing the country when she is most vulnerable is irresponsible, especially if done by South Africans themselves,” he said.
Government working towards improving lives for all, especially the poor
The President said despite tough economic times and less money to spend, government remains fully aware of the need to cushion the poor from hardships and poverty.
He said government had created a wide network of social protection services such as social grants, free and subsidised health care and free basic education for children from poor backgrounds.
“We know that many among the privileged classes become angry when we speak about the reality of the apartheid legacy as they want it to be forgotten.
“We will continue to work hard to reverse the horrible impact of this legacy. It is correct that the income level of a white household remains six times higher than that of a black household. Together we must fight and defeat this inequality as it seriously affects our path towards true reconciliation,” he said.
He said in this regard, and to cushion the poor, the Free Basic Services programme run by municipalities currently supports more than three million households throughout the country.
“Over 2.6 million beneficiaries receive potable water, electricity and free basic sewerage and sanitation. Free basic refuse removal is provided to over 2.4 million households,” he said.
He said government has also, since 1994, delivered 4.5 million houses and subsidies, thereby restoring the dignity of millions of people.
Over the past few months, he said, government has provided over 54 000 housing opportunities.
Despite limited resources, government will, through the Department of Human Settlements, continue to prioritise the elderly, people living with disabilities, military veterans and child-headed households for houses.
South Africans healthier, living longer
The President said, meanwhile, that on health, life expectancy increased by six years and reached 63.3 years in 2015.
He said South Africans are living longer due to interventions like the improved access to treatment for diseases like HIV and Aids and TB.
“However, some diseases need attention such as cancer and heart diseases which are becoming more prevalent and this calls for more awareness about healthy lifestyles."