The Wits silencing of students by bullets is distasteful
The United Democratic Movement Youth Vanguard (UDMYV) strongly condemns police brutality to shut the voices of South African students when protesting for their basic right, a right to education.
The recent Wits attack and shooting that has left a student dead at wits university is not an isolated incident, another is that of a DUT student who was shot dead in 2019. And many other students who fell at the hands of law enforcers in fees must fall protest.
It is disturbing and sickening that after 26 years of democracy, school management and government continue to utilise police brutality to stabilise protests. The current government actions are no different from those of the Apartheid regime.
Our government has set an unacceptable precedence to ruthlessly shut people who bravely, firmly stand and fight for their rights. We have witnessed this culture during the fees must fall protest.
It is such a shame that most if not all these deaths in institutions of higher learning happened under the so called Doctor Blade Nzimande who seemingly has no capability to establish effective solutions before things go wrong. Minister Nzimande hesitation to act quickly has compromised lives and study opportunities to some extent.
Minister Nzimande is to blame for this mayhem as a custodian tasked with Higher Education Science and Innovation who continues to fail the department and the students dismally every time he is at the helm. 2017 December 16th the then President Zuma declared free education in institutions of higher learning however young people of this country are financially excluded and are carrying heavy debts from institutions of higher learning. This government with their so called financial aid scheme has dismally failed young South Africans.
It is abhorrent that Minister Nzimande shifts the blame for his lack of capability to implement and find funding models for free higher education to President Zama’s announcement of free education in 2015, also citing that this is due to redirecting funds to covid pandemic forgetting that they had a buffet with PPE funds.
Nsfas challenges are not something that has been caused by covid 19 pandemic, they’ve always been there and like any other department covid laid bare the rot, corruption, maladministration, lack of governance and impunity in that scheme. In 2018 budget speech by ex-Minister Gigaba announced plans to fund free higher education, “that an additional R57-billion over the next three years had been allocated to fund free education for students who come from poor or working-class families with a combined income of R350 000. This is on top of the R10-billion which was provisionally allocated in the 2017 budget. Allocations for fully subsidised higher education and training for poor and working-class students amount to R12.4-billion in 2018, R20.3-billion in 2019 and R24.3-billion in 2020.
This announcement came with budget cuts and reprioritisation in order to fulfil the promise of free higher education, however challenges such inconsistent and slow disbursement of allowances to students, no observation or pattern of payments, some students being rejected without valid reasons, miscommunication between NSFAS and Universities leading to non-funded students creating confusion and depression for students still floods NSFAS.
Institutions of higher learning are meant to be palaces of knowledge not destination of terror. Government needs to prioritise its purse and allocate huge amounts of money to education. Students cannot be carrying debts behind their backs when they were promised free education.
Police brutality should not feature in any case and this government should stop silencing young people with bullets.
If South African government responds with force and shootings of young people, we shall heed to the call by the late First Democratic President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela when He said “If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid government.”
UDMYV calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to step up and have a political will to implement free and quality education. Students should not be owing Institutions but government should have a burden of that debt to Institutions of higher learning, He must pave the way forward and allocate much needed funds to education. President Ramaphosa energy channelled towards fighting against corruption should be equivalent to the implementation of free and quality education in our time. Or “Sithanda Singayisusa” Mama Winnie Madikizela Mandela
We call on all Young South Africans in School to stand up and defend our future, not even bullets will shake from fighting for our liberation.