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Tue Sep 27 22:39:56 SAST 2016

Fees protests a proxy struggle for the frustrations of young South Africans: IRR

Neo Goba | 22 September, 2016 09:05
Mantashe had‚ speaking on the sidelines of the South African Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union conference in Cape Town on Wednesday‚ said that students were not "doing anybody a favour" by protesting and disrupting academic activities. File photo
Image by: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

The Institute for Race Relations (IRR) partially echoed the words of African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe‚ who suggested shutting down university campuses across the country for six months to teach protesting students a lesson.

Mantashe's statement on Wednesday was in reaction to the protests which followed Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande's fees announcement on Monday.

Various institutions have suspended all activities after students intensified protest actions.

“For a number of years‚ the IRR has been warning the government that it is sitting on the cusp of an uprising. The escalation of violence on student campuses this week could easily spill out of control‚" said the think tank’s head of risk analysis‚ Kerwin Lebone.

“The point we are making is that very bold decisions may have to be taken to ensure that a larger crisis does not occur. Shutting campuses may be a short-term option.

“But what the fees protests represent is much more than a struggle over university fees. It is a proxy struggle for the frustrations faced by many young South Africans.”

Lebone added that the potential for such a crisis must be read against a very tough economic environment in which per capita Gross Domestic Product levels have begun to fall.

“The correlation between such a fall and social instability is something IRR analysts see in current and historical data.”

Mantashe had‚ speaking on the sidelines of the South African Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union conference in Cape Town on Wednesday‚ said that students were not "doing anybody a favour" by protesting and disrupting academic activities.

“I’m not the minister of education. Because‚ if I was‚ my first reaction would be to close them. And open them after six months‚ and close the residences for six months. After a year‚ people will know higher education will be important for their future‚" said Mantashe.

- TMG Digital

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