The delaying tactics of President Zuma and Minister Blade Nzimande will backfire. Establishing a commission and setting up committees for a pressing funding crisis is to pour petrol on fire. Students have displayed the depth of their impatience and that impatience will not be easily assuaged by delaying tactics.
President Zuma is very willing to spend millions on commissions but very reluctant to resolve the problem politically. This will incense students and provoke them to turn institutions upside down once agin.
Has the cabinet run out of ideas? Minister Nzimande’s meeting yesterday with student leaders was a flop. Some disenchanted student leaders simply walked out of the meeting. Nzimande’s new committee, called the tripartite structure consisting of students, vice chancellors and officials from his Department, will not find acceptance.
Student leaders who staged the walkout were dismayed that the meeting was not a report back of last November’s meeting with the President and Nzimande. They were frustrated that a new agenda was on the table. Starting from scratch was not what they had in mind. His arrogance in proclaiming to the public that huge progress was made in the failed meeting, will bedevil further negotiations.
COPE warns President Zuma and his minister that society will hold them directly responsible for further disruption of this year’s university programme. Dysfunctional universities are totally unacceptable to society.
The problem of Free Education is bigger than something a single party can handle. President Mandela would have encompassed all parties for a lasting solution. COPE urges the President to involve all political parties as well as to include civil society, the private sector, the religious community and all other stakeholders in the search for a solution. That is how he should proceed.
Issued by Dennis Bloem, COPE spokesperson