2016 saw the increase in various protests from diverse University campuses in the country especially at the end of the controversial fees must fall campaign which started late last year.
The continuous war between universities and their students has become alarming and raising serious concern to well-meaning South Africans who sees it as a major set back to the nation’s educational system and a bad omen to the world.
With the president stepping in to diffuse what would have been a national catastrophe when he announced no increase in tuition fees, people expected a total end to institutional crisis, but the issue seems to have gotten worse as the feud took a turn for the worse this week when some students who seemed to be dissatisfied continued to destroy university properties and disrupting academic learning.
Apparently, a number of universities have been shut down due to clashes that ranged from the lingering fees issue, accommodation issues, racial or dispute over the use of the Afrikaans language.. The University of Cape Town (UCT), has been wracked by violence since the campus opened its doors for the new academic year in February.
The institution which was said to have enrolled 27,000 students enrolled could only afford to accommodate just about 6000.This gave rise to crisis with the “Raising black concerns at UFS is considered as racist,” by some group in the institution who claimed the management was prioritizing white privilege. The result of the crisis saw some major university relics, buses and buildings.
More to this, the North-West University campus is said to have closed down indefinitely after demonstrators torch an administration block that included a science centre and a dormitory to a supervisor’s residence. The violence started after a students representatives council meeting was disrupted by protesters. The situation escalated quickly as private security guards attempted to disperse the crowd using teargas and rubber bullets.These are just but some of the fewest recent clashes in some top universities in the country.
Though Zuma had in some cases condemned the actions of the students, some are of the opinion that isn’t yet enough.
Conderming the mass destruction of university properties on campuses including at University of Free State, University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town, President Jacob Zuma reportedly said:
“No amount of anger should drive students to burn their own university and deny themselves and others education,” he said in a statement.
“The burning of university buildings at a time when we are prioritizing the education of our youth is inexplicable and can never be condoned.”
But some analyst are of the view that more and worse actions could be on the way if government did not intervene in ensuring that political thugs are dismantled from the academic environment.
Some also opined that what seems to be the biggest casualty is the fact that by allowing the students to reject their deal with Nzimande and to strike another deal directly with president Zuma, the authority has been undermined as students would have little or no regard for the authorities.
It however appeared that by Zuma’s intervention at the #feesmustfall, hasn’t brought educational stability as the students who saw it as victory on their part, went back to re-strategize for bigger ties.
In fact the chaotic state of the country was seen during the 2016 SONA which when compared to that of the finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s financial budget speech, analysts said the budget speech seemed to command more attention and respect from MPs than Zuma ever has. Even when they disagreed with him, they did so without resentment.