South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday announced the setting up of a ministerial task team to help normalise the situation at the country’s university campuses which have been rocked by violent protests in recent days.
In a statement, the Presidency said: “President Jacob Zuma has established a Ministerial Task Team to assist the Minister of Higher Education and Training to normalise the situation at Higher Education institutions across South Africa, working with all stakeholders.”
The Task Team includes Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe as convenor, Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Bonginkosi “Blade” Nzimande, Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Advocate Michael Masutha, Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba.
“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 Zuma.
Government reiterated its full commitment to promoting access to higher education for children of the poor and the working class.
The statement added that Zuma again condemned acts of violence and the destruction of property and urged all students to return to class while “solutions are collectively sought to the challenges of higher education in the country”.
Lectures resumed on Tuesday morning at the troubled University of Witswatersrand (Wits) amid heavy presence of police and private security guards.
Despite the violence on Monday that saw running battles between students, police and security guards, the university announced lectures would continue.
Cleaners were seen sweeping the floors and steps of the Great Hall, the site of Monday’s battle, while security guards ensured that the safety of the campus on Tuesday.
Protesting Wits students affiliated with #FeesMustFall have vowed to shut down the campus until their demands for free education are met.
Several other university campuses around South Africa also saw sporadic outbursts of violent protests, including in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
Acting South African national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane on Monday ruled out declaring a state of emergency following violent clashes between police and students at various university campuses.
Phahlane also lamented the levels of violence and vandalism accompanying the ongoing #FeesMustFall protests at South African universities, urging the students to exercise some restraint.
On Monday, running battles between protesting students and police as well as private security spilled over onto the streets of Braamfontein.
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