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'Student lives are not a soapie': Maimane condemns comparison of protests to 'The Bold and the Beautiful'

25 March 2021 - 11:32 By cebelihle bhengu
Mmusi Maimane has condemned the comparison of student protest to a TV soapie. File photo.
Mmusi Maimane has condemned the comparison of student protest to a TV soapie. File photo.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has added his voice to the growing condemnation of higher education minister Blade Nzimande's comparison of the student protests to US soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.

“Student lives are not a soapie! Our greatest betrayal of the future is our treatment of the youth,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Nzimande told MPs and the SA Union of Students (SAUS) on Tuesday he is concerned about national shutdowns as it contributes to a further loss of time for the 2021 academic year.

The minister was addressing parliament’s higher education and training portfolio committee about the challenges in the higher education sector.

Responding to a question about student protests, the minister said: “I am as concerned as you are, every year it's like a soapie now you know — The Bold and The Beautiful.

“Every beginning of the year there is instability ... If we can ensure the issue of the missing middle, we can ensure every year we focus on teaching and learning rather than focus on other things,” he said.

Students have been protesting against what they call financial exclusion. They want all historical debts to be cleared.

Trade union federation Saftu called for the minister's resignation on Thursday morning.

“It is disconcerting for the minister to be calling the fight for free education and against financial exclusions The Bold and the Beautiful soapie. For a minister who is the general secretary of the Communist Party to make remarks that undermine the efforts of students to free quality education and underplay the need for such education is shameful,” said the union.

The minister's remarks triggered wide-ranging condemnation from social media users, causing some to reflect on the killing of Mthokozisi Ntumba. Ntumba was an innocent bystander who was killed two weeks ago at the height of the Wits university protests.

This is what people had to say: