WATCH: Student protesters have 'ulterior motives', says Blade Nzimande
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says statements made by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe about university fees protests represent “the cry of many parents who essentially are frustrated”.
He added that those calling for free higher education had “ulterior motives.”
Speaking at the 13th national Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union (Sactwu) congress in Cape Town on Wednesday‚ Mantashe said: “If there are violent protests then we should shut the universities.
“If we destroy one block‚ two‚ three and then four‚ by the time we return to calm there will be no university‚” he was quoted as saying by Eyewitness News.
Nzimande‚ speaking at the Sactwu congress on Thursday‚ said there was a lack of understanding by government and parents about why the students were protesting.
“Look the way I understood the SG [Mantashe] there‚ he represents the cry of many parents who essentially are frustrated‚” Nzimande said.
“In talk shows‚ in the letters that I am getting‚ lots of parents are expressing this frustration‚ you know to say‚ who are these people that are actually leading the protests‚ what are they protesting for. They are protesting for government to fund the rich?
“So that is how I understand the call by the SG. Of course we are monitoring our institutions very closely‚” said Nzimande.
“You know when I saw those bricks at Wits University‚ I was just watching and saying‚ if that one brick can just go a different direction and hit and kill a student‚ what would that do?
“What would be the liability of our institutions? Parents sent their youngsters to university to study not to die‚” Nzimande said.
“If you say free education for all‚ it becomes the poor subsiding the rich. This extra money that we get from those who can afford‚ goes to actually assist even the poor students in other programmes inside universities and colleges. If we don’t have that the most disadvantaged will be the poor.
“That is not our policy‚ I don’t agree with that. In fact often those who are calling for free higher education for all‚ they have ulterior motives‚” said Nzimande.
Nzimande said earlier this week that university fee increases for 2017 could not exceed 8% but handed the responsibility to individual tertiary institutions to determine the exact amounts.
- TMG Digital