'Don’t allow your legitimate struggle to be hijacked' – Nzimande

2016-10-18 15:08
Blade Nzimande (Netwerk24)

Blade Nzimande (Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – There are multiple groups with varying interests in the #FeesMustFall movement and students must be cautious not to have it hijacked, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday.

"There are a multiplicity of interests and groupings in all of this among students, if truth be told," Nzimande said.

There were many different voices among the student body itself, he said.

"There are many interests. Some of the interests in fact are no longer about fees, they are about discrediting the current government by all means.

"But what we are saying as government to the larger student body, 'Don't lose sight of your legitimate demands. Don't allow your legitimate struggle to be hijacked and be turned into a struggle of violence and destruction, which is what is happening now'."

Nzimande was briefing the media following a meeting with business stakeholders including the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), National Business Initiative (NBA) as well as the Association for Savings and Investment SA (Asisa).

Return to class

Nzimande said all parties were in support of a public-private model of dealing with the funding crisis and urged students to return to class while the process was underway.

A demand by students that government provide them with a date of when it would implement free higher education was not realistic.

"The timelines are known by everyone, there is a judicial commission that is going to give an interim report next month and it’s going to then give the final draft report in June next year and conclude by August.

"No one can stand up and say 'We shall stand up on the 1st of January and say we are ready to implement A, B, C and D without the commission giving us guidelines.

"We can't be asked about a date as if there are no processes that are actually put in place," Nzimande said.

He said all the democratically-elected student representatives the department had spoken with had all accepted this commission.

Engaging with students

Nzimande also said he was constantly engaging with students and student leaders.

"We speak to student leaders practically every day. We do it on the record and off the record. That is the nature of managing this," he said.

He said he had visited the University of KwaZulu-Natal's campuses at the weekend and had spoken to a number of students "off the record".

A partnership between all affected parties was needed to stabilise the current situation on campuses, he said. This included partnerships between universities and security forces.

"We all agree it is not nice to see police officers on campuses, like this is the old apartheid days, but if there is destruction of property and threat to life and limb then security forces must come in and actually protect life and property if we are able to move forward," he said.

Read more on:    blade nzimande  |  university protests  |  university fees

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