The appointment of Blade Nzimande as minister of higher education, science and technology is not only reckless but also represents fatal regress. It is an insult to the #FeesMustFall generation.
It was under Nzimande’s ministry of higher education and training that the country experienced the #FeesMustFall movement that campaigned primarily for the realisation of free, decolonised education.
Students were subjected to all forms of brutality. Some were raped and others assaulted, psychologically injured, imprisoned, expelled or suspended, and traumatised.
Nzimande’s attitude, posture and utterances when all this was happening make him the number one culprit. He arrogantly dismissed students, showed no empathy and publicly ridiculed our plight.
Students who suffered during that period have not yet recovered. For instance, Khanya Cekeshe is serving a five-year sentence for setting a police van alight, the case of Mcebo Dlamini, who faces charges of theft, intent to cause grievous bodily harm, public violence, possession of a dangerous weapon and malicious damage to property, is still on the roll and a number of activists, including myself, have criminal records. Yet the number one culprit is rewarded with the same position he previously held. So much for a “new dawn”.
Nzimande’s acceptance of the ministerial position shows that everything he did during his previous time in the role was on purpose and that he has no remorse for his actions.
His removal from office was followed by some slight progress. Fee-free education was introduced and adopted as a government policy. It is being rolled out. It is not a perfect process but is a necessary step towards progress.
Nzimande should realise that a good leader knows when to occupy a particular position. He must avoid being pushed out of office, as happened in 2017. If he were a great leader — with a high level of revolutionary morality and ethics — Nzimande would not have accepted his latest appointment. He should not be behaving like a self-serving individual on a mission to sustain his upwards social mobility.
For him to be in that office reminds us of all the horrors he unleashed on us. Nzimande must resign and vacate the office of higher education, science and technology. He is a liability.
Bonginkosi Khanyile was sentenced to three years’ house arrest for public violence during the #FeesMustFall protests