Govt will clamp down on tender committee students – Nzimande

2012-02-28 14:06

The government will make it illegal for students at institutions of higher learning to participate in tender committees, said Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande in East London today.

He said this ban would allow students to focus on their studies.

Nzimande was addressing the media at the East London City Hall, where his department hosted a ministerial road show.

He said sitting on tender boards had corrupted student political leaders and the department would engage all student political formations about the issue.

“We are going to make it illegal for students to sit on tender committees. It’s unacceptable that students sit on tender committees. What are they doing in tender committees? We want to produce graduates there, not train tenderpreneurs,” he said.

Fights for control of lucrative residence, transport, and catering tenders in some of South Africa’s most political institutions of higher learning even saw the ANC Youth League compete against the South African Students Congress, an ANC-aligned organisation, he said.

“Student participation in politics is important for building skills and getting experience.

“It’s good for society and to build future leaders, but we will have to discuss with parties on how we can make sure they finish schooling in reasonable time,” said Nzimande in reference to Walter Sisulu University (WSU), where students are at loggerheads with management.

WSU’s Nelson Mandela Drive campus has been a battleground between police and protesting students since yesterday.

Running battles between police officers – who fired rubber bullets – and stone-throwing students led to the death of a student yesterday.

Mawande Ntanjwa (20), a first-year education student from Mbizana, fell six storeys to his death after stepping on a rotten section of roof on the building from which he and fellow students were watching the chaos unfold.

Police were called in after students ran amok protesting over the university’s decision not to allow students to write supplementary exams now, saying they could do so in August.

Today, Nzimande slammed the students, saying although he respected their right to protest, he could not allow them to do so in the name of students who had overstayed their welcome in higher learning.

“These students stay six or seven years in institutions of higher learning… We accept that failures are also a reflection of the background of learners, some of whom have not even seen computers before university, and the department is working to deal with that.
“But what we’re saying is we need to get rid of these professional students because its an injustice against other students who want to go there and learn,” said Nzimande.

He added that his department would meet with both WSU administrator Lourens Van Staden and student leaders to understand the problem.

“What we’re saying is that we want lists of affected learners, and not just a general plea. You can’t protest over generalised grievances.”

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