Advocacy organisation Equal Education (EE) made an impassioned plea for the provision of free, quality higher education at the fees commission on Wednesday, saying SA had an abundance of resources that were mismanaged.
President Jacob Zuma set up the commission in October 2015, after the first wave of #FeesMustFall protests, to make recommendations on the feasibility of free higher education and training.
EE general secretary Tshepo Motsepe said refusing to provide free higher education would affect poor black youth.
"We are not a poor country, we are a mismanaged country," Motsepe said during the organisation's submission.
EE has proposed that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme be converted into a full grant scheme funded by big corporates, including state-owned entities, and the state, which were the biggest beneficiaries of university graduates.
Motsepe said entities had money set aside for bursaries and redirecting those funds into a grant system administered by all stakeholders would be a good starting point to fund free, quality higher education.
Pupils being educated at poor schools would automatically qualify for a grant under such a system if they met academic requirements, he said.
ANC Youth League general secretary Njabulo Nzuza failed to turn up at the commission for the second time but was at ORTambo International Airport to welcome former AU Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as she arrived back from Ethiopia.
Musa Ndwandwe, a fees commission spokesman, said Nzuza had not given a particular reason for being unable to attend a scheduled session at the commission other than that an emergency had arisen.
Ndwandwe said youth organisations' submissions to the commission often lacked preparation and were inadequate, while groups with money to protect came prepared.
"There is a misconception that ... all you need to do [is] ... state what you believe, but the commission needs evidence to interrogate," said Ndwandwe.