The ANC government is currently failing in its handling of the student protests because it is trying to be both a government and an activist liberation movement at the same time. To be both is, unfortunately, not possible, Dr. Pieter Mulder, leader of the FF Plus, says.
Dr. Mulder says an example of this is the comments yesterday (20 October) of Zizi Kodwa, ANC spokesperson, in which he criticised the police by stating that they should not use rubber bullets against students during violent protest actions.
“The minister of defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, also seriously criticised the police about the way in which they used rubber bullets. These are transparent attempts of the ANC to be popular with protesting students without seeking real solutions for the problems or offering alternate proposals about the manner in which the police should deal with the situation.
“There is no doubt that the police could be better trained in crowd control. The use of excessive force is also condemned.
“Yet it is a testimony for police self-restraint that the violence of student protests and the burning of buildings and libraries has not led to the death of any student. Little is being written about how the students act criminally and provoke the police.
“When the protests reach a certain level of violence and the destruction of property, there are few other methods apart from using rubber bullets to control the crowd. That is why it is also an internationally recognised method to deal with this level of violence.
“President Jacob Zuma tried to play the same popularity role when he described the “Fees Must Fall” protests as “a sign of healthy democracy”.
“The burning of libraries and buildings, as well as the calculated damage to vehicles, can never be signs of a healthy democracy. The only explanation for the president’s comments must be that he has recently been out of the country too many times, 75 days in total, and therefore missed the realities of the current student protests.
“The ANC has to decide whether it wants to govern the country or whether it wants to be a populist liberation movement. It also goes for university rectors who come from the liberation movement, and are now still trying to deal with the current unreasonable violence and criminality in that spirit.
“After the poor decisions of incompetent ANC politicians and rectors, the police are called to deal with the consequences. It is unfair toward the police that they are criticised by the same politicians and rectors who had called them in to deal with the situation, for the manner in which they are dealing with the protests,” Dr. Mulder says.
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