Debate in parliament on transformation in Higher Education

Dr Pieter Mulder

When dissatisfied students march on parliament, the police should not stop them, but rather invite them inside so that they may personally confront the architects of the country’s many problems, of which study fees are but one, Dr. Pieter Mulder, FF Plus leader, said today during a parliamentary debate on Transformation in Higher Education.

The full speech of Dr. Mulder follows below:

There is a saying in English: The chickens are coming home to roost. In Afrikaans we say: You reap what you sow.

In 2007, prior to the 2009 election and again at its Mangaung conference in 2012, before the 2014 election, the ANC promised free tertiary education. But up until 2015 it did nothing about it. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Instead, subsidies for universities have been reduced while bail-outs to inefficient parastatals continue unabated.

How do they get away with it?

By brainwashing voters to blame anything but the ANC for their problems, from white capital to neo-colonialism and apartheid.

The honourable minister of higher education as the general secretary of the SACP is excellent at this. Normally he just puts the blame for any problem on “anti-majoritarian counter-revolutionary forces”.

But I do have some sympathy for the minister. Honourable Nzimande has for the past twenty years agitated for a popular revolution. When it finally arrived, he was on the wrong side, the receiving end of it trying to make a speech and shouting “amandlas” through the fences around parliament.

Who are the real authors of this mess?

I must congratulate the students that this time they were not brainwashed or fooled. They immediately set the real authors of this mess, the ANC government in their sights. So they marched to Luthuli House, to parliament and the Union Buildings.

The ANC’s initial feigned solidarity with the students and the ANC’s call on its members to join the protests did not fool the students.

At Luthuli House, Jesse Duarte and Gwede Mantashe still tried to blame the vice rectors. That quickly changed the rallying cry from #FeesMustFall to #ANCMustFall.

The fact that Mr. Mantashe had called these students pseudo-revolutionaries did not help much.

In this campaign “fees” were the rallying call, but everyone knows that it is about a broader anger at a government which only makes promises and fails voters.

The FF Plus condemns student and police violence. At parliament some police officers used unnecessary force - mainly because they were too few. I however saw how police officers were kicked and mocked. When the students broke through the gates at parliament I watched ANC members on that side of the House. They sat with big and anxious eyes listening how the shouting of the students kept on coming closer, right up to the doors of the National Assembly. Less than ten police officers prevented the students from entering the Assembly.

What does the ANC and DA provincial governments do afterwards? No thanks for the police. The ANC’s Moloto Mothapo said in a media release:

“We completely and out rightly reject and condemn the heavy handedness of the police - the students presented no threat.”

I now want to say to the police members here at parliament, and I hope they are watching on TV screens: Next time, you stand to one side, you help the students enter the Assembly Chamber. I will on the inside show the students which ministers and members of parliament are responsible for the current mess.

Members of the FF Plus and the EFF, from the ANC Youth League and others together participated in the protests. We are grateful that fees will not be increased – but the fact that the ANC has dragged its feet to address the problem has now created a financially untenable situation.


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