Campus violence undermines the plight of poor students – Mmusi Maimane

DA says institutions of higher learning can no longer be the battle ground for people who wish to divide SA

Campus violence undermines the plight of poor students

21 September 2016

The DA strongly condemns the vandalism, violence and intimidation being carried out by a small handful of individuals across several of our country’s university campuses over the past days.

The need to find progressive, fair and workable solutions to address the existing inequalities in Higher Education cannot be overshadowed by a small group of looters who are acting for narrow political interests – damaging property and wreaking havoc at our universities. We call for calm across all university campuses in South Africa, as we work together to find such solutions. 

The right to peaceful and non-violent protest is a hard won freedom, which is protected and promoted by our Constitution. As a party that upholds the Constitution in its entirely, we support the rights of all South Africans to protest peacefully. However violence, intimidation and destruction of property must be condemned in the strongest terms. 

The DA supports the fight by millions of students across the country to increase funding for poor students and the “missing middle”, broaden access to tertiary education, and diversify our campuses. This is a crucial fight to address the injustices of our past and to build an inclusive and reconciled society. 

However, violence, looting and “campus shutdowns” does nothing but undermine this fight, while violating the rights of other students to learn and earn themselves an education.  

Indeed, the frustration of students who have been ignored and forgotten by the Jacob Zuma’s government for many years is completely justified. There has also been a complete lack of leadership on their front. It is unthinkable that the ANC government has billions of rands to spend on unending bailouts for South African Airways (SAA) - with a total loss of R10.8 billion under Dudu Myeni - but not enough money for our children.

The DA will continue to fight for increased access to opportunities for young people and more inclusive campuses. This does not include encouraging or condoning vandalism and violence.

South African institutions of higher learning can no longer be the battle ground for people who wish to divide South Africa for narrow political gains. We must stand up to those who seek to divide us and create mayhem at a time when we should be working together to defeat injustice and inequality, and ensure more inclusive and cheaper education for poor students. 

Issued by Mabine Seabe, Spokesperson to the DA Leader, 21 September 2016