‘Violent’ student protests unnecessary, says Mbeki

Mbeki said he would not air his views on the embattled higher education sector at this stage.

Newly-appointed Unisa Chancellor, former president Thabo Mbeki on Monday cautioned South African students, and the general populace, against the trend of violence which often accompanies genuine protests.

“We must express our appreciation and understanding of the actions taken by our students in the context of their #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall campaigns, but without approving the completely unnecessary and counter-productive violence and destruction of university property which occurred during these campaigns,” Mbeki said addressing delegates during his acceptance speech at Unisa’s main campus in Pretoria.

“Needless to say, the students’ movement and our society as a whole must decisively turn their backs on the forms of protest rooted in the logic of cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face. As illustrated by a plethora of incidents, in which we burnt down clinics to demand better healthcare, or we destroy lecture rooms because we want free education or lay whole schools to ruin because we do not like a proposed municipal boundary.”

Mbeki said he would not speak now regarding his views on the embattled higher education sector, pending the findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training chaired by Judge Jonathan Heher, which was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to probe the feasibility of the highly demanded fee-free education in South Africa.

“I suspect that you, dear friends, suspect that I have important questions concerning the critical matter of higher education. You are correct in your belief. I do have a view about what are the objective and truthful response to these questions [about higher education] should be. I would like to plead your indulgence, to delay this response. This is because, as you know, currently sitting is the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training,” he said.

Source:  The Citizen

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