EXCLUSIVE: ANCYL leader blames Nzimande for student protests

2015-10-20 10:45
Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande. (File, City Press)

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande. (File, City Press)

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Johannesburg - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and his department are to blame for the wave of student protests over fee increases, ANC Youth League president Collen Maine told News24 in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

"If the minister cared enough he would have dealt with these issues just after Wits because this was an indication that more was coming," said Maine.

"We need an indication from him as a minister whether he can clearly render issues of higher education or not. If he cannot he must say that to the president and then the president must assist students of this country by placing somebody who will do that."

The protest over an increase in universities fees started at the University of Witwatersrand last week.

Since then students at Rhodes University, Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town have joined the cause, barricading entrances to the universities and bringing activities and lectures to a halt.

University of Pretoria and University of Fort Hare students were expected to join the protest.

Nzimande was expected to hold talks with vice chancellors at higher learning institutions across the country on Tuesday.

‘It is a crisis’

Maine said Nzimande should have gone to Wits to speak to the students himself to inform them of how he would intervene.

"All of us can make noise about it saying we support the struggle but ultimately... there is a problem in the authority," he said, referring to the minister and his department.

"So we must just be told if there is a capacity to render issues of higher education."

During a media briefing on Monday, Nzimande said the student protest action was not a national crisis and could be resolved.

"A crisis implies that the situation is so bad that there are no mechanisms to deal with it. There are mechanisms in place. I have been assured by all vice-chancellors that they are willing to engage students on the matter," he said at the time.

However, Maine disagrees, saying it is a crisis.

"If people resort to go on strike it is a crisis. We put the blame on him and his department. It is a crisis - it cannot be taken lightly," the ANCYL leader said.

Free education

The ANCYL resolved at its national congress last month that it would campaign for the implementation of free education.

Maine said the call for free education would resolve the current issues.

"The minister must tell us now when is free education going to be implemented."

Maine said he would be visiting Stellenbosch University and UCT on Wednesday to show moral support.

Students across political parties agreed that they would handle the issue themselves but appreciated the support, he said.

The ANCYL is also planning a picket outside Nzimande's home in a week's time to call for free education.

"We’re going to have breakfast with him one of these days in terms of a picket. We'll take around 3 000 people, students, to his house to picket," Maine said.

The league will also march in support of free education to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on November 27.

Read more on:    ancyl  |  blade nzimande  |  collen maine  |  johannesburg  |  education  |  university fees

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