As the Acting Premier of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal Sihle Zikalala and a task team of MECs prepares to meet with stakeholders in the institutions of higher learning, he has called for maximum restraint.
He remarked: "It is warped logic that for students' protests to have an impact, one must destroy already existing education infrastructure required to prepare young people to be the drivers of socio-economic development in their country."
"The burning of vehicles and buildings yesterday leaves a bitter taste and should be condemned by all the people of KwaZulu-Natal. We wish to state categorically that we fully understand and sympathise with the plight of poor students who find it impossible to meet rising education costs."
"We thank both students' leadership and management in various tertiary institutions who have expressed their willingness to engage in a dialogue in order to turn around the situation."
"As the KZN Government, we also support the Education Minister Naledi Pando who announced late yesterday that she had directed the Director General of the department to ensure the necessary support."
Importantly, we are expecting young people to exercise revolutionary discipline and isolate criminal elements who abuse the Constitutionally-guaranteed right to peaceful protest by destroying public property and endanger the lives of others."
"During the last Fees Must Fall campaign in 2017 the provincial government had to step in to deal with rogue elements who had hijacked genuine issues of students. We could not fold our arms in the face of brazen criminal acts that created social instability with innocent students and communities bearing the brunt."
Zikalala concluded: "Although the provincial government has no direct oversight role to play over the institutions of higher education, it was agreed in a meeting held on the 7th February 2017 that the provincial government must be part of efforts aimed at ensuring a disruption-free academic year. This meeting was convened by the KZN Human Resource Development Council and attended by vice-chancellors, rectors and students' leadership. It was chaired by our Premier Willies Mchunu."
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)