Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS/NTSWE MOKOENA
Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS/NTSWE MOKOENA

HIGHER Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has called on "everyone to stand up and say no to this anarchy", blaming the protests over his university fees announcement on Monday on a "small band of students" that were intent on disrupting the academic programme.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, meanwhile, has pledged R15‚000 to help students who need funding to complete their tertiary education‚ and called on companies to follow her lead in the #FeesMustFall campaign.

Nzimande told Radio 702 that he had "lots of encouragement" from "the section of our people‚ the lower-middle class … the missing middle" who stood to benefit from government’s stance – and who appreciated the "gesture" that government was there to assist "all those who cannot afford to pay for university education".

He reiterated that fee-free education for all was impossible‚ and that "we need to realise free higher education for the poor‚ not for the rich".

Nzimande conceded that the protests were not "unexpected"‚ saying: "I knew that whatever announcement … I was going to make‚ there was just a small of group of determined students‚ some of whom are acting in a very vandalistic manner to try and disrupt the academic programme".

He told Radio 702 that he was "hugely disappointed" by the reaction at universities around the country‚ some of which have decided to suspend activities this week.

"Even if people may be angry‚ nothing justifies endangering the careers and the futures of our young people. Nothing justifies that. We are a democracy. We have ways of protesting‚" Nzimande said.

Madonsela, speaking at the IUA-United Communal Fund fundraising dinner in Durban on Wednesday‚ said there was a need for corporate SA to join the search for solutions to the fees crisis in higher education.

"As long as there is injustice somewhere‚ sustainable peace cannot be experienced anywhere. Education is important in the delivery of the constitutional dream of the freed potential and improved quality of life of all‚" she said.

She alluded to former president Nelson Mandela, who once said education was the great leveller.

"Education is a key component for a country’s progression‚ therefore, when we collectively work towards educating our young persons, we actively and jointly contribute to a SA we all want to see, because young people carry the dreams and hopes of our people. We ought to take cognisance of the fact that SA is a relatively rich country with innovative young minds that can help address today’s problems‚" she said.

As part of the drive to support access to education for all South Africans‚ Madonsela implored corporate SA to join hands and establish a fund that can be utilised to assist young and talented South Africans who require funding to complete their tertiary education.

Her office said in a statement that, as a start‚ the institution is making use of the Corporate Social Initiative Fund that was created from donations Madonsela has received over the years‚ "and as Public Protector‚ she pledges R15‚000 towards that fund with the hope that this gesture will encourage many more in corporate SA to follow suit as we make a difference and put through university previously disadvantaged students".

TMG Digital