The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is concerned that the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology is quite reticent when the country needs his attention the most.
Since the beginning of the academic year, there has been unrest in a number of South African universities like the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the Central University of Technology in the Free State and others. These crises have been met with Dr Blade Nzimande’s deafening silence.
The nationwide outcry of unhappy students, as some who qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) support are denied their benefits, is disconcerting. This whilst Dr Nzimande has made a promise that students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those who are from families that earn a gross income of up to R350,000 annually, would automatically be accepted for NSFAS support.
What is currently taking place is different from what the minister said three weeks ago at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research where he addressed political parties. Who is in-charge of this higher education portfolio? Why are the vice-chancellors of these universities using different approaches with regards to NSFAS?
All and sundry have seen the videos circulating on social media with extremely disturbing scenes of buildings being burnt down and attacks on campus security personnel. The UDM deplores this totally wrong and unacceptable behaviour. What the perpetrators of this violence don’t seem to realise is that rehabilitation will take some years, and that this will negatively affect the future of our youth.
The UDM calls on Minister Nzimande to speedily attend to the outcries of the students; these are our future leaders and they deserve better than a passive, seemingly don’t care minister.
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Mr Bongani Msomi
UDM Secretary General