#Feesmustfall – the cost of destruction soars

According to EWN the #Feesmustfall protests caused nearly R800 million worth of damage to universities and training colleges.

Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor revealed this in a written reply to a question by the Democratic Alliance.

The University of the North West suffered the worst damage, with the cost of setting fire to the Mafikeng campus alone coming to about R198 million.

In second and third place respectively were the University of Johannesburg and the university of KwaZulu Natal – their damages totaled R144 million and R100 million respectively.

The university of the Western Cape came in at R63 million.

My Take

When I studied at university, I studied part time because I couldn’t afford full time tuition. I went to Unisa and worked.

I say this upfront to illustrate my bias here – in that I couldn’t afford to study full time so I studied part-time, and I didn’t set anything on fire over that. My sympathy with #Feesmustfall is thus very limited.

The thing that struck me throughout the #Feesmustfall protests, was that these were adults studying serious degrees, many of which would include arguments for fees falling.

And the arguments we got for #Feesmustfall, boiled down to “I need it”. When they didn’t get it, they burnt things, including buses that were carrying other students.

They looted shops in Braamfontein and they allegedly assaulted university staff at UCT.

But what do you expect of a movement where one of its leaders was Mcebo Dlamini? A liar who claimed to be a Sisulu and who publicly admired Hitler?

A rational case could have been made for #Feesmustfall, and instead we heard Chumani Maxwell telling Jonathan Jansen that he was out of touch with the struggles of black parents.

Do you know what Jansen wasn’t out of touch with? The struggles of universities that have to pay their staff, and repair almost R800 million worth of damage caused by the likes of Chumani Maxwell.

Maxwell is of course a “man” who first became known for throwing his own excrement at a statue he didn’t like. And I put scare quotes around the word “man” due to his later assault on a female student.

Another leader was Ntokozo Qwabe, a hypocrite who studies at Harvard on a Rhodes grant yet spearheaded the #Rhodesmustfall movement, proudly boasted about not tipping a waitress, and how he relished her “white tears“.

Prior to this, he celebrated when terrorists murdered people in Paris, because the victims were “colonialists”.

During the #feesmustfall protests he went on to assault a student for filming his behaviour, and told the press he regretted not whipping the guy.

Professor Bongani Mayosi committed suicide recently. His sister, Ncumisa, blamed #feesmustfall for the vitriolic way staff members were treated throughout the protests according to the Sunday Times.

Of course, apologies were demanded of Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng when she spoke about how traumatic the protests were for Mayosi.

And all of this by a movement that could very well have laid out an economic case for doing away with university fees. We are in a country with a skills shortage, the good that can be done by qualified individuals extends well beyond their own needs.

The very skills these students were supposed to be learning could have been employed in their arguments, instead we got the precise sort of behaviour which, honestly tell me, would you want that in any university you ran?

#Feesmustfall kind of got their way in the end, but there is a cost to that. There were expenses incurred throughout the protests which needn’t have been, and we’re just starting to tally the price.

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