The meeting at the No More Money University on Saturday was a monumental waste of time. Set up to hear out issues pertaining to the #FeesMustFall protests, it was completely hijacked by a small group of protesters (read “rioters”).
As usual, there was no action at all from the varsity. In fact, there was not a single representative of varsity management present! Where is Derrick Swartz? As vice-chancellor, surely an issue this big is important enough for him to be in attendance, instead of being on leave? Does he not think the current crisis warrants his attention? Maybe he is the wrong person for the job.
If they think they have problems at the moment, with a couple of hundred protesters holding the varsity to ransom, then they have no idea about the problems they will face when the varsity doesn’t open its doors.
Let’s look at how this may play out. Let’s assume the varsity continues to sit on its hands and do absolutely nothing – which it will – then we will lose this academic year. I am told that there are in excess of 26 000 students registered at NMMU (unverified). What is the reaction to the closure going to be of the 25 500 who are not protesting?
Let’s assume that they do accept that they will simply lose a year of their life – which they won’t – and go back to re-do the year in 2017. We have already paid for this year – and we will certainly not pay for the same year again. That means the university will have to operate for a full year with no fees. This is impossible!
Also bear in mind that classes are essentially full – so there will be a much-reduced intake next year. Their fees – which no one wants to pay anyway – will not be enough to cover costs for the year.
What about the final-year law and accounting students, who already have their articles jobs lined up? Employers won’t wait an extra year.
We will start seeing our top educators leaving the institution. They have choices, so why would they choose to stay to be abused and intimidated?
We will lose out on the twinning arrangements between ourselves and overseas universities – and foreign students will not come back.
The university and its lack of action will not stand a chance in court – and that is the way this is going to go, starting this week. Apart from directly against the varsity, charges could be laid in personal names of senior staff that have done nothing to deal with the issues at hand. Let’s see how that pans out.
Where is the government in all this? Well, the education department has simply handed the issue back into the hands of the universities – and it’s an issue they are not equipped to deal with. It is possible (read “highly probable”) that the government is behind the current unrest and I certainly wouldn’t put it past certain high-ranking people in government of orchestrating these events.
What the university fails to see is that there are two issues at hand – the first is fees and the second is the riots. They need to deal with them separately.
Fees are a government issue. The ANC gave out so many electioneering promises (without any hope of ever fulfilling them) and the people are now asking for them to be fulfilled. What a pity that our government is so useless that it cannot or will not do anything constructive at all.
However, somewhere along the line, they will have to make some sort of decision regarding fees and funding universities.
The second issue is the riots. This is simply a criminal offence perpetrated by a small bunch of criminals – and we all need to start viewing their actions as criminal. What the varsity needs to do is call in its security (and get more security, if need be), remove the rioters and get on with normal classes. For whatever reason, it appears to not want to do this.
And then we have the police. Where are they and why are they not doing their job in clearing blockaded roads, arresting perpetrators of criminal violence and getting rid of those who threaten and take away the civil rights of others?
Well, NMMU – this week will be very interesting. If you don’t get off your backsides and do your job, then you will be hearing from a whole lot of us!