Dear Honourable President Zuma
Our country’s institutions of higher learning are engulfed by flames of angry student’s who are protesting against above-inflation fees hikes and privatization of services by arrogant management.
These protests have taken more than a week already and we haven’t seen much of intervention from our government. In one instance media quoted Minister of higher education, honorable Dr Nzimande as having said there is no crisis.
Universities are seen as leaders in our society as they are claimed to have provided leaderships in the development of faculties of knowledge. One would have thought that these institutions will lead by example when it comes to implementation of models to bring about dispute resolutions.
Wits Vice-Chancellor has on a number of occasions, you honorable President for failing to provide leadership in this country. He is on record for having attacked the person of the President on Marikana issue. In his academic approach, he believed that cops should not have been called to intervene in Marikana. I am shocked to learn that the same Professor has ran to courts to secure a court order that helped him bar students from entering the university.
This to me raised an alarm about the danger of taking academic views as a final word when dealing with challenges in our country. Clearly the man has failed to do exactly what made him famous when it was fashionable to attack the President on Marikana.
The wave of protests by academics in the making is a serious alarm and perhaps a clear sign of what is to come in the near future. Academics are expected to use a different logic from the rest of us when dealing with problems. Equally so, the management of these institutions is thought to be professors who are good in crafting models for solutions. How is it that when students raise legitimate concerns, the university does not have an academic way of addressing their concerns?
If university professors fail, what will befall the rest of us uneducated people of SA?
For long we have spoken about Transformation of Institutions of Higher learning. We have compiled papers on this. Does this concept even exists?
Here is the reason I ask:
After looking at Wits Board of Governors I could not help but wonder. Wealthy white males dominate Wits Board of Governors. Why should you have only multi-millionaires who made their riches by exploitation of black labour of our country be on the board of a public institution? Is it a coincidence that most of them are drawn from the list of elites who have enriched themselves through deals supported by apartheid? setup? For an example, what interest does the founder of Discovery has in education? If we are really serious about transformation, how is it possible that this board has not transformed? Is Wits really a public institution or a club of millionaires who gossip about how they have managed to line their pockets while the rest is imagining this purple goat called transformation?
Wits 2014 Annual Report records student fees as income, revenue and profit. In other words the university devices strategies of growing its income, revenue and profit by manipulating student fees. Shall we suspect that the high rate of course repetitions by students is linked to university’s attempt to keep its profit from fees high?
An income of R1,5bn was recorded in 2014 as having been generated from student’s fees.
The report also reveals that the university receives donations worth hundreds of millions of rands from undisclosed donors. Who are these donors and what interest do they have in education? What favors do they receive from these donations they make? Are these donations recorded properly?
Does it make sense that when one board member resigned from Wits he then established the Accenture Foundation and the Accenture Education Trust. Where are these reserves declared on the report sitting? Could there be a relationships between reserves and trusts and foundations that are created to protects some individuals?
Something does not seem alright with the picture here.
Wits Vice Principal pocketed a salary of R3.4 million from this so called ‘public institution’. What is he rewarded for? It is simple: for protecting the board of governors to continue playing its money chess while the rate of drop out remains high.
A registration fee of R24 000 does not make sense to me no matter how much one can try to explain. If UCT charges as high as R24 000 and Stellenbosch R19 200 for registration, what can justify these discrepancies.
Protesting students derive the concept of ‘free education’ from Mass Democratic Revolution. It is not an error that these students are convinced that the struggle for total emancipation is not over yet. Why is it that the leader of our struggle has remained silent about the crisis in education? Our recent NGC reaffirmed the view of those who are oppressed, that struggle continues.