University of Johannesburg students march over fee-related issues in Auckland Park. File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
University of Johannesburg students march over fee-related issues in Auckland Park. File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Blade Nzimande’s ’soap opera’ comment riles students as funding crisis continues

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Mar 27, 2021

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Late on Friday, Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande was still locked in a tussle with students over funding for the current academic year.

The students have been protesting over the last three weeks and this culminated in a series of meetings between students, vice-chancellors, Nzimande and MPs.

In a meeting with the National Assembly committee on higher education this week Nzimande said a solution has to be found.

The committee also agreed that it was time that the matter be resolved by all parties concerned.

Nzimande said he was also happy that some universities have managed to settle.

“I am glad that some universities have settled like UWC and a few others and Wits is close to settling because the sooner we start the academic year the better.

“More so also because we are faced with the prospect of the third wave which may even delay us even further,” said Nzimande.

He said they were also busy dealing with the question of the missing middle.

This was the issue raised by the Union of South African Students when addressing the problem.

They said since there was a threshold this should be clarified.

The union also said there was a problem of parents who had more than one student at university but they earn above the threshold.

The official opposition has proposed categories of students who can qualify for NSFAS and those who cannot.

Nzimande also said he was busy conducting a study with the University of Zululand on the outbreak of protests every start of the academic year.

He said the study would need to find the underlying causes of these protests.

On Friday Nzimande spoke out against the destruction of property during the protests.

He listed a number of universities where properties have been damaged amounting to hundreds of thousands of rands.

The minister received reports from 21 institutions on the destruction of property during protests last year.

At the University of Johannesburg seven cases of vandalism were reported with the damage amounting to more than R202 000 and at the University of KwaZulu-Natal the damages amounted R27.3 million from the incidents that happened last year when buildings were torched.

At the University of Fort Hare the damage amounted to more than R406 000, at the University of the Western Cape it was R166 000, Sefako Makgatho University it was R30 000 and Rhodes University it amounted to R5 000.

The damage at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology they spent R2.6m to repair damaged infrastructure and at the Central University of Technology they spent R1.4m to fix damaged buildings.

Political Bureau

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