Students must fight complacency, says Ramaphosa

Thohoyandou - South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday said the youth championing the #FeesMustFall movement should combat the complacency that can overcome some tertiary institutions.

“Just as they have benefited from the sacrifices made in the face of apartheid terror, we know that this generation will light the path for the next,” Ramaphosa said speaking at the University of Venda in Thohoyandou, where he received an honorary doctorate.

He said the younger generation would organise, agitate, mobilise and relentlessly strive until free higher education for the poor has been realised.

“To that, this generation must combat the complacency and lethargy that can too easily overcome our institutions.”

Ramaphosa said the youth have benefited from the struggles of their parents and grandparents for decent education, and must light the path for the next generation.

He urged graduates to root out waste and corruption and said they should approach tasks with intellectual courage and rigor.

“This is the generation that will have the honour — and must shoulder the responsibility — to realise the 2030 vision of the National Development Plan,” he said.

Ramaphosa was honoured for his role in crafting the Constitution and the doctorate was bestowed upon him by former president and former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe who is also a university chancellor.

Ramaphosa dedicated the doctorate to his peers, and unsung heroes. He said his generation had dedicated their lives for the struggle to emancipate their people.

“It is to that generation of freedom fighters, many whose names are unknown and whose deeds are unrecorded, that I dedicate this honour.”

Speaking about the youth in South Africa, he said the generation’s cries for free education continue to reverberate through the corridors of power. Ramaphosa said the #FeesMustFall campaign was a clear sign that this generation was determined to change the things it can no longer accept.

“We can say with confidence that this is the generation that will rekindle the revolution,” he said.

“The struggles that are being waged on our campuses today should not blind us to the educational needs of those who are now barely old enough to talk.”

Students across South Africa have been protesting for free education at various universities including the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Cape Town, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth and the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria.

The students have been protesting since Monday after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that state universities could increase fees for 2017, capped at eight percent