Out of touch with reality?

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YOU would think the government would stop everything and concentrate on solving the issues causing mayhem in tertiary education institutions. However, South Africa being South Africa, we do things differently.
Do you remember 2007 when schooling came to a standstill as teachers and public servants went on strike for weeks? Then president Thabo Mbeki was conspicuous by his silence and absence. He saw it fit to travel around the world instead of addressing head-on what was happening. Fast-forward to 2016 to the crisis in tertiary education institutions and where is our president? He has chosen to travel to Kenya where he has been seen dancing the night away while the universities have been akin to battlefields.
Surely, the scenes of our dancing president couldn’t have been the kind of image the government wants to project to the nation which is on the edge as the academic year seems to be lost.
“President Zuma has once again condemned acts of violence and the destruction of property and urged all students to return to class while solutions are collectively sought to the challenges of higher education in the country,” said the Presidency.
He also appointed a ministerial task team that includes the police, defence and Home Affairs ministers. The protesters want free education yet Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is not on the team.
In his explanation, Zuma said he deliberately did not include the finance minister as the aim of the task team was to return the campuses to normality so lectures can resume.
This was a clear indication that no extra money is to be found immediately to address the funding demands of the #FeesMustFall movement.
So where to now? Why is the president seemingly unperturbed enough by what is going to not stay at home? He believes that he has done enough by setting up the fees commission which will report back next June, so everyone must put their suggestions forward and then wait for the findings.
While in Kenya, he said: “You can’t not distinguish between those who must pay and those who cannot pay. It will be very difficult fr the government to pay for a child of a parent who has every means to pay. We who have the means must support the system for the benefit of the country.”
The Freedom Charter seems to agree: “Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit. One of two unpalatable things will result – stronger policing or a complete shutdown of institutions as Gwede Mantashe once suggested.
Is Zuma correct or out of touch with reality? Time will tell.

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