Zuma to student leaders: Let's talk

2016-10-03 21:36
President Jacob Zuma (File)

President Jacob Zuma (File)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma promised to meet the SA Union of Students for talks after tertiary education leader disrupted a higher education summit on Monday.

"The president has promised to meet with the leadership of SAUS to engage them in formal discussions," Higher Education Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana told attendees at the summit, in Kempton Park.

The union would however have to make a formal request to the president’s office to make this happen.

Student leaders at various universities were displeased when Zuma gave a brief speech and left the summit. They disrupted proceedings and demanded that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande call Zuma back.

An hour-long debate between student leaders and Nzimande followed.

Outgoing Wits University Student Representative Council president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa said it was a shame that Zuma left the summit to attend an ANC meeting at party headquarters Luthuli House.

"Universities are burning and students suffer on the ground, but the president sees fit to leave this national crisis for his Monday meetings at Luthuli House," she told attendees.

Student leaders told Nzimande they wanted government to give them a timeline for the implementation of free education.

Some attendees blamed students for the violence and destruction of property on campuses. One woman told Nzimande to ask Zuma to send in the military.

"If needs be, the president must deploy the army. We cannot burn our libraries. That knowledge is irreplaceable. The police must do their work. Those who are committing these crimes must be found," she said.

A University of Pretoria student leader said he was worried about sending soldiers to protect universities.

Concluding the summit, Nzimande told attendees that government and other sectors of society should work together to find a solution to the plight of students.

“We are all on the same side. There is no government that is opposed to free higher education for the poor. The issue is the modalities and time,” he said.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  nompendulo mkhatshwa  |  university protests  |  university fees

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