On Tuesday, the presidency released a statement that it has established a ministerial task team to address the fees crisis at universities. Many of the ministers involved in the task team, however, have positions in the security cluster.
“Government reiterates its full commitment to promoting access to higher education for the children of the poor and the working class,” the presidency said in its statement.
Members of the ministerial task team are as follows:
- Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe as convenor;
- Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande;
- Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor,
- Justice and Correctional Services Minister advocate Michael Masutha;
- Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko;
- Minister of State Security David Mahlobo;
- Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; and
- Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Five of the eight members of the presidency’s ministerial task team that will address the issues facing higher education are from the ministerial security cluster. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, meanwhile, has not been included in the task team, despite the treasury’s significant role in making funding available for free education to be implemented.
In recent weeks the presidency has been criticised for its lack of response to the #FeesMustFall student protests and the violence from police against protesters. Yesterday, bystanders as well as Father Graham Pugin, a pastor of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Braamfontein, were injured as police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse students.
In its statement, the presidency condemned acts of violence and the destruction of property, it also urged students to return to class. President Jacob Zuma has also requested that stakeholders co-operate with the task team.
“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,” the presidency quotes Zuma as saying.
The students have demanded that free education be made accessible to all in South Africa and, after four weeks of protests, no resolution has been reached.