Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande's address to students and workers at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) did not go smoothly on Thursday evening after angry students, suspected to be EFF, forced him to storm off the podium to his seat.
The students accused the Minister of not allowing them to participate in the debate, which had been organised by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU).
Nzimande had told them; “I can’t be answering questions from [the Economic Freedom Fighters] EFF when we are this close to elections.”
Later, when order was restored, Nzimande replied to the group concerning the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and #FeesMustFall.
He reiterated that he did not agree with the concept of free high education for everyone as it was unsustainable in an economy like South Africa, which is not a socialist economy, and where there are also still many challenges regarding access to skills development and tertiary education.
The Minister also said students should also be able to engage in dialogue - and not just protest.
“When we are deep in the #FeesMustFall struggles we forget the achievements that we have made as the ANC government over the last 22 years in the field of post education and training,” he said.
He appealed to students to give government a chance to come up with a long term solution on fees in higher education.