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.