'Fees protests aimed at discrediting ANC'

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has questioned some students’ demands for free education.

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

PRETORIA - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande believes the current wave of student protests is a campaign to discredit the African National Congress government.

The minister was speaking after meeting with the interim Board of Convocations and Alumni in Pretoria yesterday.

The board says it will add its voice to the negotiations at the respective institutions to try bring an end to fees protests.

Nzimande has questioned some students' demands for free higher education across the board.

"Why should the rich have a zero percent increase when they can afford to pay? That is the agenda, it is an anti-ANC agenda which is directed at destabilising and discrediting this government."

The alumni board's Sanele Zondi says they will attempt to restore calm to affected institutions.

"We are going to actively play a role in negotiating and mediating to ensure that we bring the necessary stability needed for teaching to continue at all our universities."

Several universities have closed early for the third quarter recess.

CALL ON STUDENTS

The minister says it is worrying that the majority of students have allowed themselves to be held hostage by a violent minority.

Nzimande and the board have condemned the violent demonstrations and disruptions amid protests.

The alumni board's chairperson Sanele Zondi says: "Those who are destroying university property should face the full wrath of the law, as this behaviour destroys the future of those who are still to come into the university system."

At the same time, Nzimande says the majority of students must make their voices heard.

"Why are you allowing yourselves to be held hostage and your careers destroyed by a minority of violent students? Is it not time for those students to stand up and say, 'Not in our name.'"

Nzimande hopes to restore calm to campuses within a week.