Student protests: Nzimande labels outrage over ‘soap opera’ comment as malicious

On Thursday, the South African Federation of Trade Unions called for Nzimande's resignation after he likened recent countrywide student protests to a soapie.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande at a media briefing on 18 January 2021. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG – Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has hit out at his critics while trying to clarify that he didn't mean to discredit the student struggle for equality when he likened it to a soap opera.

On Thursday, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) called for Nzimande's resignation, while the South African Union of Students (Saus) was equally outraged.

READ: Satfu calls on Nzimande to resign after likening student protests to soapie

The union said this was not the first insensitive statement by the minister as they recalled that back in 2015, Nzimande said "students must fall" during the fees must fall movement on campuses.

Minister Nzimande said he was open to constructive engagement and would rather discuss the burning issues than play to the gallery without meaningful suggestions.

His spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi said: “Minister Blade Nzimande view the statement by Saftu as vicious and an opportunistic attempt to grandstand on the basis of a deliberate effort to misconstrue his contribution to the central problem facing the higher education and broader post-school education and training system.”

Students have been protesting against financial exclusion and the scrapping of historic debt since the beginning of the month.

WATCH: Timeline - University students demand an end to financial exclusion

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