Out of the woods?


IT IS with re­lief that I write that a most im­por­tant de­mand by stu­dents across the coun­try has been met, al­beit with much re­luc­tance.

The pres­i­dent an­nounced there would be no fee in­crease for next year. Now the scram­ble is on to find the over R2-bil­lion said to be needed to make up for the short­fall in the bud­gets of the uni­ver­si­ties and tech­nikons.

The in­ept min­is­ter of higher ed­u­ca­tion Blade Nz­i­mande has been left with the task of find­ing the ex­tra funds for this short­fall. I will not hold my breath as he has been shown as a per­son who has been sleep­ing at the wheel while the coun­try was burn­ing, but I am hope­ful that, de­spite Nz­i­mande, a so­lu­tion will be found.

The stu­dents, af­ter this mi­nor vic­tory, should go back to class, write the ex­ams and al­low a calmer at­mos­phere to pre­vail so as to have a more mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion with the ANC-led gov­ern­ment to pro­vide what is in the Free­dom Char­ter and the res­o­lu­tions of its own con­gresses.

While the coun­try has been gripped by the drama on our cam­puses an­other event that will have a ma­jor im­pact has largely gone un­no­ticed. The new visa reg­u­la­tions in­tro­duced by Min­is­ter of Home Af­fairs, Malusi Gi­gaba, have been re­vised, or as some­one put it, ‘tweaked’.

This af­ter a ma­jor out­cry, with even tourism min­is­ter Derek Hanekom tak­ing the un­prece­dented step of pub­licly go­ing against a fel­low min­is­ter. The reg­u­la­tions have been blamed for a drop in tourism busi­ness es­ti­mated at over R2 bil­lion last year.

Cabi­net has re­lented and re­laxed many of the visa re­quire­ments like the one that re­quires a per­son ap­ply­ing for a visa to be per­son­ally present at the of­fice to do so and have bio­met­ric de­tails taken then.

Now the ap­pli­ca­tion can be done by post and bio­met­rics will be cap­tured at the port of en­try like OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka in­ter­na­tional air­ports. If some of th­ese com­pro­mises can be reached af­ter a long strug­gle, why were they ap­proved in the first place by cabi­net?

Is this why stu­dents and many res­i­dents re­sort to vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion to make their point? Is there a feel­ing that the gov­ern­ment only re­sponds to crises and vi­o­lence? Is there ev­i­dence that only when things get out of hand does gov­ern­ment re­spond? I have not done the re­search but at face value it seems so. Should it be like this? Do peo­ple have to re­sort to des­per­ate mea­sures to have the ear of gov­ern­ment?

It has been said that the ANC gov­ern­ment is out of touch with what is go­ing on on the ground and in the lives of or­di­nary peo­ple. Is that true? You tell me.

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