‘Burning schools, libraries setting South Africa back’
CAPE TOWN — Burning schools, libraries, and institutions of higher learning is setting South Africa back from progressing as a nation, says Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba.
Makgoba, who is also chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, said in a statement at the weekend that these facilities were important heritage sites.
“It is in these schools, libraries and institutions where people’s lives have been transformed.”
He was “deeply pained” by the instability at universities, referring to protests on campus following an announcement by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that universities could raise tuition fees, but by no more than 8 percent.
Makgoba said these institutions had moulded leaders and transformed the lives of children and families from rural areas and townships.
He asked students to give the fees commission the space to do its work and await recommendations on the feasibility of free education for the poor.
“We must protect our students’ right to learn in a conducive and enabling environment.”
He said it was important to refrain from deepening inequality through “destructive actions”.
“You have the opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourselves. When one day you reflect on this time, may the story you tell be one that fills you with pride.
“May it be a story that, like the stories your parents told you of their fight for your right to equal education, makes future generations appreciate the opportunities we have that they never had.”
Meanwhile, students will continue their mass protests and will this week take their protest to “a KANO — The embattled leader of jihadist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, resurfaced in a video posted online yesterday, rejecting assertions by the Nigerian army that he had been seriously wounded.
“You have been spreading in the social media that you injured or killed me,” Shekau said in the 40-minute video released on YouTube and dated September 25.
“Oh tyrants, I’m in a happy state, in good health and in safety.”
The Nigerian army said on August 23 that Shekau had been seriously wounded in the shoulder in an air raid in which several commanders were killed.
The army’s claim was bolstered when Boko Haram released a video on September 13 without Shekau in it.
That video, also posted on YouTube, shows an unidentified man who says he is representing Shekau, who had allegedly been ousted by the Islamic State group to which Boko Haram pledged allegiance in March 2015.
Nigerian soldiers, with the support of regional troops, have recaptured swathes of territory lost to the jihadists since they launched a military campaign in February 2014.
The mass kidnapping of schoolgirls from the remote town of Chibok provoked global outrage and brought unprecedented attention to Boko Haram and its bloody quest to create a fundamentalist state in northeastern Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the governor of Nigeria’s northeast Borno state has temporarily relocated to a town that was occupied by Boko Haram extremists for six months, in an effort to promote rebuilding.
The region is trying to recover as the extremists slowly lose control of some areas.
The town of Bama’s infrastructure was decimated in repeated attacks.
Kashim Shettima says he hopes to jump-start rebuilding of government offices, markets, clinics and schools. He did not say how long he would use the town as a base.
Bama is 70km southeast of Maiduguri, Borno’s capital. Boko Haram seized Bama in September 2014, and Nigerian troops recaptured it in March 2015.
In July, the extremists attacked an aid convoy travelling from Bama, and the UN suspended aid missions in the area. centre of power”, most likely the Union Buildings in Pretoria or Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
Students yesterday were locked in mass meetings around the country, mapping a way forward following protest action after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement on fees at universities for next year.
Nzimande said that he did the best he possibly could in making provision for the poor and the “missing middle” — categorised this week as those who have a household income of less than R600 000 per year — by way of a 0 percent increase.
Those who can afford university fees must pay an increase, which will be capped at 8 percent. The 0 percent will apply to at least 70 percent of all undergraduates across the country, a shortfall that government has planned for and that will come in at about R2 billion.
“I would not have made the announcement without having spoken to the finance minister. He is the one that will give the details as to where the money will come from and how. I must say he has been understanding and supportive, which has made my work much easier,” Nzimande said.
Students who took to the streets this week are calling for free education, but some say they will settle for the scrapping of historic debt and registration fees. The demands outside of free education differ from institution to institution.
At this stage, national co-ordination is not as organised as it was last year. However, student leaders said the way forward was to take their protest to a centre of power. Initially, the JSE head office was considered, but a mass meeting at the University of the Witwatersrand rejected this, saying it was not a centre of power. The power is said to be at the Union Buildings, Parliament and the headquarters of the governing party, Luthuli House.
In the meantime, detractors of Nzimande’s concession are coming from within the tripartite alliance itself. The ANC Youth League has come out strongly in opposition to Nzimande’s announcement. Relations between the league and the minister — who is the secretary-general of the SA Communist Party — have been tumultuous since the election of the league’s leaders last year.
The league’s secretary-general, Njabulo Nzuza, said that they had made their demands very clear during their engagements with Nzimande.
“We told him, if you have any intention of any fee increase, you must show steps towards the realisation of free education. The first thing would be to scrap registration fees. The government subsidies must be made available to the universities earlier, so they do not require registration fees. That indicates you are willing to find a way to implement free education,” Nzuza said.
The embattled Nzimande emphasised that blame for the fees crisis could not be placed on his shoulders alone.
“The issue of funding is a collective government and ANC alliance responsibility. It mustn’t be reduced to an individual. Where I have been given money, I have done my job.
“Don’t gamble with the future of our young people just because you are pursuing a narrow, factionalist position. All of us in the alliance have to learn that factionalism does not help and it is worse if you gamble with [the lives of] young people.” — Sapa
Embattled Boko Haram leader Shekau resurfaces in video
Reflected in a mirror, a man points his cane toward images of golfer Tiger Woods and a statue of tennis great Serena Williams at the museum in Washington DC. — AP