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Gareth Cliff slams Wits protests calling for free education: ‘I’m not paying, I don’t give a s**t whether you are educated or not’

Gareth Cliff. File Picture

Gareth Cliff. File Picture

Published Mar 9, 2023


Pretoria - Media personality Gareth Cliff has weighed in on the Wits university protest, slamming protesting students - some of whom have called for the implementation of free education, saying his tax money will not pay for anyone’s education and he did not care about anyone’s education as it was not his responsibility.

Cliff made the controversial statement on his show, CliffCentral which offers uncensored and unscripted opinions.

Cliff said the Wits SRC and students have been protesting for free food, free education and free accommodation.

‘’Who do they think might pay for this?“ Cliff asked.

‘’And if its the responsibility of everyone in South Africa and not them (students). I don’t want to pay for your education, I couldn’t give a s****t about you being educated or not, I don’t have a responsibility, you are not my child, I didn’t make you, I’m not paying for you, straight up, I refuse,’’ he said.

Cliff added that he is upset at the thought that his tax money is being used to pay off someone else’s education.

Last year, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said beneficiaries of the NSFAS bursary scheme are not required to pay back the money spent towards their tuition fees.

“Students’ responsibility is to focus on their studies and pass. This is a return of investment that they can do in honour of the government and the taxpayers of our country,” Nzimande was quoted as saying by Sowetan.

Cliff is not new to controversy, in 2016, his tweet drew a massive response and created the impression that he supported former estate agent Penny Sparrow’s racist statement, calling black beachgoers monkeys.

As a result, Cliff was fired from Idols SA. A court overturned his dismissal and he returned to the show, only to later call it quits on his terms.

Meanwhile, the Wits protest have been ongoing since last Tuesday against financial exclusion and caps on accommodation prices by the public entity, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme..

Students are calling for the university to do away with historic debt which prevents some of them from registering, as well as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) residence cap of R45 000 and for the university to extend the hardship fund.

Suspended SRC president Aphiwe Mnyamana spoke to eNCA on Wednesday and said they have suspended the protest for a day in order to have a meeting with the institution and other stakeholders.

“If the vice chancellor wants to meet us, he must temporarily lift our suspensions so that we can go to that conversation, there won’t be a meeting with the vice chancellor if all SRC members are not there,” he said.

Mnyamana reiterated the students demands, saying they want answers on why students have not been accommodated and others haven’t been registered when there’s a budget to do so.