MPs call for special sitting to help resolve university crisis

MPs are calling for a more assertive stance from political leaders on what they say is a national crisis.

FILE: Students protest at the offices of the department of higher education and training. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Some members of the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Higher Education have called for a special sitting of Parliament to plot a way forward to resolve the university crisis.

The committee was yesterday briefed by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and civil society organisations committed to brokering peace on campus.

Opposition MPs are calling for a more assertive stance from political leaders on what they say is a national crisis as the universities' academic year is flung into disarray amid student unrest.

"Why do we not have some of the vice-chancellors and chairs of council and to ask them when are they going to reopen the universities and if they're not, why not?"

"Where is the President? Equally people out there will ask, where are the Members of Parliament and what are they saying?"

During the portfolio committee meeting in Parliament yesterday, Nzimande warned that the situation should not be exaggerated so that it becomes unresolvable.

He says government has not underestimated the students' plight, and has consulted extensively despite several challenges.

"But also there's all this shifting of goalposts. The one time we must go to the Minister of Higher Education but the other time people say the minister is useless."

Nzimande is expected to make further submissions to the Fees Commission in Johannesburg today.