ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe says he would shut down all school universities for six months if he were the Higher Education and Training Minister.
Gwede, who was speaking on the sidelines of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) conference, said, according to businesstech, if he were the minister, he would not only shut down universities for the period of six months, he would also shut down residences for another six months.
South Africa’s Varsity students have for days now, engaged in a wild protest against the recently increased fees announced by the Higher education Minister.
The ministry went on with its proposed plan to increase university fees despite strong warnings by students unions
Angry students, who are calling for free education, were as a result seen staging series of mass protests with majority of them clashing with police on Tuesday
This also led to campuses at UCT, UFS and others being shut down. Wits specifically, closed campus activities including classes and tests for the rest of the week.
Speaking on this, Gwede Mantashe said the right to education comes with responsibility, with the State Government saying that anarchy cannot be allowed.
“If we destroy universities, we won’t have them for tomorrow – and the dream of free education will be out the window,” he said.
He further said if schools were shut down for as long as one year, students would realize the importance of higher education. Added to this,he said after all the student weren’t doing anyone else any favours by studying.
“This is for their own futures, and their futures are in their (the students’) hands.” he said.
Speaking on the havoc wrecked by students in during their protests, the ANC secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said if students were prepared to burn the institutes down, the only way to protect them would be to shut them down, and keep them closed until students were prepared to come back and study.
“Sometimes you must deepen the crisis to resolve the crisis”, saying that the move would show students that higher education cannot be tampered with.
“Unfortunately, I am not the minister,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has strongly condemned violent student protests at some universities in the country.
He said the violent protests, which have led to damage to property and interference in the academic programs in some institutions are wholly unacceptable and provide no solution to student concerns and that such violent protests inflamed by rogue elements after wide consultation was undertaken on the measures announced.
“Government has heeded the call of students by subsiding fee increase in 2017 to poor, working class and ‘missing middle’ students. We cannot subsidize all students in the same manner. Those from households with an income per annum of below R600 000 have been assisted by the gap funding from government as announced this week” he said.
The SG backed Nzimande’s plan for the government to subsidize poor students – both on NSFAS and in the “missing middle” – while those who earn enough money and could afford fees should continue paying.