CAPE TOWN, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- The South African Presidency on Sunday denied press reports that the National Treasury had stopped President Jacob Zuma from announcing free education.
The Sunday Times newspaper said Zuma was planning to announce free education in his State of the Nation Address in February but was stopped by the National Treasury.
This report "is a fabrication" and the president never planned to make such an announcement, presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said.
This came as a new spate of student protests over tuition fee is looming following remarks by representative body Universities South Africa that students in the country should expect a fee increase of 8 percent.
Zuma had appointed a commission of inquiry into higher education funding, Ngqulunga said, adding that at no stage did Zuma plan to make any announcements that would undermine the work of the commission.
According to the spokesperson, the president has tasked the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Higher Education Funding to process the commission's report and advise him on how to respond to the content thereof.
South African students are planning a national day of action as their demands for Zuma to release the much-awaited Fees Commission Report intensify.
Following widespread student protests over tuition fee increases in 2015, Zuma established a Commission of Inquiry in January 2016 to investigate the feasibility of making higher education and training fee-free in the country.
After failing to present the report within the 18-month deadline, the commission had its term extended until June 30, 2017.
Zuma received the final report from the commission on August 30, 2017.
"The Presidency is now finalizing the processing of the report which requires, among other things, that the Presidency consult with the relevant ministers to ensure that government is ready to implement the president's decision as as soon he releases the report," Ngqulunga said in October.
In 2015, widespread student protests erupted in all major universities across the country, triggered by tuition fee hikes from 10 to 50 percent for the 2016 school year.
The protests continued for weeks until Zuma succumbed to students' demand for zero-percent increase in tuition fee.