Zuma condemns violence at protests, university autonomy being considered

OCTOBER 26, 2015

While delivering a speech  at the OR Tambo Memorial Lecture in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, President Jacob Zuma said that there was no need for people to resort to violence during protests. This is after #feesmustfal student protesters brought the Parliament precinct in Cape Town to a standstill and on Friday clashed with police at the Union Buildings grounds in Pretoria.

“We thank all students who adhered to the Constitution of the Republic by marching and gathering peacefully,” Zuma said. 

“The right to assemble, protest, and express ourselves is guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic. There is no need to resort to violence, including the destruction of property when exercising this right.”

Zuma said that violence of the nature seen outside the Union Buildings and as well as in the parliamentary precinct is unacceptable and undermines the campaign which, as we said, seeks action that is in line with ANC policy.

“We look forward to working with the universities, including especially student leadership, as we address the transformation issues and build universities that would reflect the needs of a non-racial, non-sexist developmental state,” he said, adding that the African National Congress (ANC) would continue to invest in the youth.

“We will continue the quest for economic freedom, so that all the developmental goals of our country are achieved."

University autonomy being considered

President Zuma also said that there is a serious consideration to review the autonomy of universities after the student protests.

He said that the 2007 Polokwane conference resolved that education and health must be prioritised as the core elements of social transformation.  

“The Polokwane ANC resolution on education also states categorically that the movement should progressively introduce free education for the poor until undergraduate level. The message from the students that were marching in the past week is therefore in line with ANC policy.”

Zuma said that a Presidential Task Team on Higher Education will work on addressing issues at institutions of higher learning.

“As announced, the work of the Presidential Task Team on Higher Education will be expanded so that it looks at more than just high fees but also broader transformation issues.

"Some of the issues raised include the need to review the autonomy of universities. The view is that there must be a difference between the autonomy of universities and academic freedom.”

---additional reporting ANA and SABC