South Africa sets up ministerial task force to resolve ‘Fees Must Fall’ protests

The student fees protest crisis that has hit the country for weeks now. Photo credit: Africanews

The South African government has announced the establishment of a ministerial task force to find a solution to the student fees protest crisis that has hit the country for weeks now.

A statement from the presidency disclosed that president Jacob Zuma had established the ministerial team consisting eight ministers to ‘‘normalise the situation at higher education institutions across South Africa, working with all stakeholders.’‘

“We urge all stakeholders including students, university management, parents and religious leaders to cooperate with the Ministerial Task Team to ensure that the future of our children is not jeopardised,” said President Zuma.

The statement added that the government was fully committed to promoting access to higher education for the children of the poor and the working class.

President Zuma reiterated his condemnation of violent acts leading to the destruction of property amid the protests. He urged all students to return to class while solutions are collectively sought to the challenges of higher education in the country.

The Task Team comprises the following:

  • The Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Jeff Radebe as Convenor,
  • Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Bonginkosi “Blade” Nzimande
  • Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor
  • Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Advocate Michael Masutha
  • Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Nhleko
  • Minister of State Security, Mr David Mahlobo
  • Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and
  • Minister of Home Affairs,  Mr Malusi Gigaba.

    The country’s police chief recently observed that criminal gangs had joined the #FeesMustFall protests that has hit several universities across the country, Lt. Gen. Khomotso Phahlane said whiles delivering an update on security and policing matters relating to the protests.

‘‘It is evident that criminality has taken advantage of young people in the universities under the disguise of the #FeesMustFall initiative.

‘‘We have noted info that suggests #FeesMustFall has been infiltrated by forces not aligned with those who seek Free Education,’‘ the police chief said.

Reports from South Africa indicates that police are patrolling some universities after they clashed with students on Monday. The situation remains tense because some students have opted to return to their classes whiles others try to disrupt the classes.

The government has said that universities could increase their fees by a maximum of 8% but protesting students insist that they want free education.