19 May 2016
Acting Minister of Higher Education and Training, Thulas Nxesi met with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare who briefed him on the state of readiness for the centenary celebrations which are planned for Friday 20 May 2016. Included in the briefing were disruptions that took place at the Alice campus of the university last evening, Wednesday 18 May 2016.
The university management had met with student leadership yesterday to address the issues covered in the memorandum that the students had delivered on Tuesday 17 May 2016. The memorandum contained a set of 16 demands and the meeting yesterday addressed all of them. Most of the demands were met. There are, of course, some issues that cannot be addressed immediately as they need other parties and even contracts and these are work in progress. The student leadership left the meeting satisfied with the response from the management and with the fact that progress is being made on the remaining relatively minor issues.
The University of Fort Hare has over the past 100 years stood as a beacon of hope and success for many black people from Southern Africa. It has produced luminaries who have led struggles of liberation of black people in the region and many became leaders of their respective countries. No less than Eight government departments are contributing funds to make sure that the university will be left with legacy of this milestone. This is a unique opportunity to the university which everyone from the institution should appreciate. The university, therefore, is a fountain of liberation of black people in Southern Africa. It is for this reason that government saw it fitting to get involved in the centenary celebrations of the university which are planned for the course of 2016.
It is clear to government that despite all these achievements, including the meeting of all demands by students, that there are elements who are bent on causing commotion and destruction of property meant to benefit the institution. The disruptions and vandalism that took place at the university last night were acts perpetrated by criminal elements who want to steal and loot from the university. The aim is also to intimidate and disrupt the centenary celebrations planned for tomorrow and to reverse the significant gains that have been made which will continue to benefit generations to come.
Government appeals to protesting students to exercise calm and restraint. There is no need for violent protests; burning of property or destruction. The painful legacy of oppression will not be resolved by violence. It is only through constructive dialogue that the concerns of the students can be heard and addressed.
Government shall not be deterred. The centenary celebrations tomorrow, on Friday 20 May 2016, will continue as planned. The security agents of the state are deployed to protect the personnel, students, guests and the property of the university. Criminality will not be allowed to interrupt the 100 years of significant achievements of the University of Fort Hare.
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Issued by Government Communication and Information System