/ 11 March 2021

Editorial: Fix the problem, Cele, Blade

Editorial Mg
(Mail & Guardian)

Blade Nzimande and Bheki Cele should be fired. 

Every single year we have the same conversation about students protesting about registration problems at universities and police brutality. The two ministers are clearly inept. Unable to plan for something we all know will happen. 

Nothing changes. There are no consequences. Except for the people whose lives are harmed. 

This week police shot and killed Mthokozisi Ntumba, a 35-year-old man and father of three. His crime? Being in the wrong place. He walked out of a clinic when the police were using force to tackle protests at the University of Witwatersrand

The protest this year was the same as those in previous years. Students want education. Neither the department of higher education nor the university has the money to fund all the students. But no one has made a plan. 

The fact that good public order policing is still not being practised is deplorable. Last year the police, on average, killed someone every 20 hours. Yet Cele has not found a way to quell this and instead gives sound bites about how much he hates alcohol. This is after commissions, experts and research has shown that the police force must be overhauled and how it can be done. 

The second issue is that of higher education. It seems like a rite of passage at Wits —to be shot with rubber bullets while protesting for the right to education. 

It can’t be that Nzimande, who knew months ago when the budget was being drafted that there would be a shortfall in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s funds and that there would be actual cuts, would only now say they are having discussions with the treasury to find a solution. 

What has he been doing all this time? Was he waiting for students to protest and be shot at — and for someone to die killed? Why does this government act like they are not the government? 

We are saddled with callous, inconsiderate, lazy, politicised men who care more about their stomachs and political allies than the people they are meant to serve. 

Look at Fikile Mbalula, the minister of public transport, telling a family that lost a loved one in an accident caused by potholes that it’s not his job; it’s a provincial road. You are the minister. How dare you? 

Look at Finance Minister Tito Mboweni telling people about beautiful skies and his happy life. At the same time a man is killed at a protest sparked by an austerity budget with little consideration of how this would affect students who want an education.

No heads will roll, and next year we will still be saddled with the albatross of the visionless ruling party.