Nzimande should speak to students himself - Manyi

Johannesburg – Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande should be engaging with students on the issue of fee increases for the next academic year himself, the president of the Progressive Professionals Forum Mzwanele Jimmy Manyi told News24 on Wednesday.

Nzimande should do that instead of sending officials from his department to deal with the tension at universities in South Africa, said Manyi, a former government spokesperson.

"Students are good at engagements; sit them down, tell them of the process and stumbling blocks if there are any so everyone knows what's happening. Students clearly have no confidence in the process," he said.

Manyi, who is also a special adviser to Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, is one of many leaders who have taken to social media to express shock at images of a burning law library at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday. Students there have been protesting against possible fee hikes.

The institution, which had initially halted its academic programme following protests on Monday, has since called for an early recess, sending its students back home weeks before the scheduled break.

Manyi said he found it difficult hard to believe that the demonstrations and burning of buildings at universities were just about study fees.

"It's a very ugly side, it doesn't reflect students who are focused on dropping fees but a deliberate attempt to undermine the education of students. How do you burn down a whole law library?"

Manyi said the intelligence community needed to increase its vigilance so as to pre-empt such incidences.

Manyi said the forum was in support of free education, especially for poor students, adding that they believed it was possible to have a 0% increase for 2017.

"We must also call for the reprioritisation of budgets. We as the Progressive Professionals Forum are confident that despite the economic challenges in South Africa, that with reprioritisation of budgets the minimum of no fee increases can be achieved."

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