The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is concerned by the #FeesMustFall protests that have, yet again, forced several institutions of higher learning to grind to a halt, and interrupted exams.
The UDM expresses sympathy with our students’ plight and we believe their grievances are real, and their demands, valid.
What boggles the mind is that, Government and university managements do not learn from experience. These protests have dragged on for far too long; their poor handling of students’ grievances has already compromised more than two years of academic activities. The UDM supports their call for free education, but we are concerned about the loss of academic time and learning opportunities.
The cause of this unhappiness remains the African National Congress’ election promises of free education, which it reneged upon. President Zuma has failed to address the problem in the past. He continues to undermine the people, by fighting his own political battles at the expense of a public waiting for service delivery. The UDM is also doubtful that the new Higher Education Minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize, will be able to handle the current crisis. Only time will tell.
As in the past, these protests seem to be hijacked by criminal elements. The UDM condemns any damage to public and private property and call on students to not get carried away in the heat of the moment, or be influenced by opportunists who want to exploit the situation. We urge you to take ownership of your cause in a peaceful and responsible manner.
The UDM believes education is a stepping stone for democracy. An educated and healthy citizenry is needed to grow and develop our economy so that we are capacitated to eradicate poverty and inequality, and to generate employment.
We therefore call on Government and all stakeholders, to swiftly find sustainable ways to solve the education crisis; for if this does not happen, these protests will remain a yearly occurrence.
Mr Bongani Msomi
UDM Secretary General