THE crisis at the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) has exposed the Jacob Zuma-Blade Nzimande-Pravin Gordhan axis in the government. Soon Nzimande will be called a "street man" as he grasps every opportunity to address Cosatu affiliates to discredit Zwelinzima Vavi when there is a crisis at the university.
He was among the first ministers who bought bling cars when we had an economic meltdown. I am not suggesting that ministers must drive a Polo or a Toyota Tazz or a Kia or a Renault.
In 2007 before the Polokwane conference, Zuma addressed a gathering at Thembisa, Ekurhuleni and said there was a lot of money in government but it was not used appropriately, insinuating that the Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki administrators did not prioritise funding of the people's pressing needs. In 2010 he said we should not blame apartheid for non-existent and poor service delivery.
The crisis in WSU and protests are now haunting the president for his untimely and less than intelligent, but populist statement. He also lambasted the late education minister, Kader Asmal, for "closing down" apartheid colleges of education, but Asmal, annoyed by this statement, proved that the ANC executive committee, of which Zuma and Nzimande were members, took this decision.
Later Zuma retracted his statement.
Separating basic and post-basic education and moving the skills department to the Higher Education Department was aimed at creating a job for Nzimande in the cabinet.
The WSU crisis invites us to ask if government will make the new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga viable and well managed. The rebirth of bantustan universities like Vista, Mangosuthu, Zululand and Venda will further alienate African graduates. We have many graduates from these universities who are unemployed.
Early this year I raised a concern about University of KwaZulu-Natal student flats that are in ghettos and where parents fear violence during weekends. The university told me the subsidy for housing from the Higher Education Department was too little to address the accommodation backlog.
This raises a fundamental question of "priority" between funding the house of the president, bling lifestyles, a bloated cabinet and R1.2-million the president spent on his holiday in Mozambique.
Money also goes through the SABC to fund the SABC-New Age breakfast briefings. It's public money that should go to service delivery.
Both university management and the Higher Education Department carry the blame for the WSU crisis. Next, we are going to be told to blame apartheid when comrades "mess up".
Some of our institutions renamed after struggle heroes face mismanagement like in WSU and some parastatals. Local authorities named after Sol Plaatjie, Steve Tshwete, Gert Sibande, Govan Mbeki, Moses Kotane and so on must live up to the standards and integrity exemplified by such heroes.
In the Tlokwe Municipality, the council chamber is named after Dan Tloome, but when ANC councillors upheld his beliefs and voted out Maphetle Maphetle, they were demonised, and called "sellouts" and "counter-revolutionaries" while Tloome was a unifier and a communist of high moral standing.
Our strides forward are reversed and undermined by false and populist rhetoric, such as a promise that every teacher will get a free laptop.
If we do not voice objections to allocation of funds to the bling lifestyle of the WaBenzi class, we will have a crisis in many post-matric public institutions while this class sends its children to private institutions and hooks tenders for them.
Siyanda Mhlongo, KwaDukuza