JOHANNESBURG – Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has accused the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of “gambling” with the future of students, asking students to go back to class and engage management through dialogue regarding language policy concerns.
The EFF says it wants to resolve issues regarding language policies at the university before the academic programme can resume.
Two weeks ago, students at the University of Pretoria clashed over Afrikaans language policies.
Yesterday Nzimande met with students and management, but EFF leadership walked out while the minister was still meeting with them, saying he is not listening.
Nzimande says the EFF must learn to co-operate.
“It’s the future of our youth, our economy and our country in terms of providing skills and changing lives, it’s unfortunate. I hope at some stage they will see the light and be able to cooperate for the sake of the students.”
Meanwhile, the EFF’s University of Pretoria leader Amla Monageng says they have exhausted all communication channels with management.
“If we can find each other, then we can say we’ll resume with the academic programme. We are saying we are very peaceful, and will continue maintaining our discipline to ensure that we remain peaceful.”
Nzimande says students must learn that transformation is not going to happen overnight.
“Let’s give the academic programme a chance while we discuss the big issues. We cannot have a situation where we start by disrupting the academic programme.”
Monageng said he and others walked out of the meeting with Nzimande as he did not listen to their concerns.
“You can’t tell us to go back to school and they’re policing the campus, whereas they haven’t heard our side.”
AfriForum has agreed with other students that the meeting was constructive and paved the way for more discussions in future.