South African Students Congress

SASCO totally opposed to the graduate tax

7 February 2013

The South African Students' Congress (SASCO) notes the 53rd National Congress resolution of the African National Congress (ANC) which reads as follows, "Consideration must be given to a graduate tax for all graduates from higher education institutions."

A suggestion of a graduate tax for all graduates is standing tall on its head as it will impose an additional burden on the working class and the poor. Graduates from working class and poor backgrounds have a historic burden to redress the plight of their families whilst paying PAYE and making their repayment to NSFAS, now they will also be expected to contribute to a graduate tax. This resolution seeks to further exploit the working class such that they don’t break from the poverty cycle.

As SASCO we reiterate our unequivocal rejection of a graduate tax as it embraces the notion that higher education is a private gain for students and hence it is primarily students that should shoulder its cost through the so-called cost-sharing. Studies have alluded to the fact that in Australia, this scheme has exacerbated socio-economic inequalities. It is not always guaranteed that money levied through the Graduate Tax will be utilised towards financing education as opposed to defence and other class infused expenses.

We believe that a graduate tax works against the logic of the implementation of Free Quality Education, which appreciates the historic burden of the poor graduate, and seeks to redress the gap between the rich and poor in our country. Our country has more than half a million unemployed graduates who remain destitute and we wonder what implications this tax will have on them. Many of our NSFAS graduates are struggling to meet their repayment such that many of them are now blacklisted; with a graduate tax this will put even more strain on them. Many other low earning graduates funded through bursary schemes and scholarships that come from working class and poor backgrounds will bear the brunt of this unorthodox taxation.

We strongly believe this is another method, just like the youth wage subsidy, of protecting capital from their responsibility to education in our nation. We have called for an Education Tax, which was unanimously agreed upon at the commission at the ANC conference, which requires business and the rich to contribute towards education in our country. South African business benefits from the produce of our institutions of higher education and training, however they are not expected to contribute to an Education Tax which will contribute to financing Free Quality Education in our country.

Unlike the education tax this resolution will cushion business and the higher echelons of government and the private sector whilst burdening the working class and condemning them to poverty. The graduate tax also means that capitalists, particularly big business, are absolved from funding education. We remain convinced that progressive taxation must be introduced as a way of funding free education. We believe that this further entrenches the high income inequality in our country and goes against the ethos of the Freedom Charter. We call upon the African National Congress to live up to the Freedom Charter and fight poverty, unemployment and inequality.

For more information contact:
Ngoako Selamolela, President, 071 875 2224
Themba Masondo, Secretary General, 079 199 3421