What does Jacob Zuma and our implacable protesting students have in common? Both wasted millions of taxpayers’ money that could have been better spent on improving the lives of poor students. Zuma illegally spent R246 million on Nkandla, recently struck down by the Constitutional Court as unconstitutional wastage in every way.
Protesting students caused R300 million’s worth of damage, according to reports of damage wrought by the #FeesMustFall movement. The report presented to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande excludes the damage done to about nine other universities.
Below is a breakdown as reported this week:
- University of Stellenbosch: R352 000
- University of North West: R151 000 000
- University of Limpopo: R1 786 294.52
- University of Johannesburg: R345 000
- University of the Western Cape: R46 544 446
- Walter Sisulu University: R351 287.19
- Tshwane University of Technology: R5 073 747.73
- University of KwaZulu-Natal: R82 000 000
- Cape Peninsula University of Technology: R689 850.14
- University of Cape Town: R3 200 000
- University of Zululand: R 4 500 000
- Rhodes University: R250 000
- University of the Witwatersrand: R1 410 223
- University of the Free State: R2 800 000
Total cost: R300 302 848.58
Apart from UCT where the mayhem started, the black universities have been hardest hit by the wanton violence and destruction. Take North West for example: damage amounting to R151 million drastically reduces its ability to recover from such deficits.
Such anarchic destruction should be punished severely because the consequences for the future management of universities will be dire. If President Jacob Zuma must pay back the money, why not also the students and the EFF and ANCYL whose supporters have allegedly been involved in the destruction of property, claiming “their pain” warrants smashing property?
R300 million can support thousands of poor students; add to that the amount lavished on the presidential kraal and we have a total amount of R546 million, which could have plugged a desperate gap in student bursaries.
If the highest court could find against Zuma for wasteful expenditure, why should students be let off the hook for perpetrating heinous acts of arson against the only spaces in society that are truly free?
Instead of directing their wrath at the ANC for betraying the revolution of their/our parents, they go for easy targets, sending universities deeper into the mire. Now many Vice-Chancellors are embarking on fund-raising campaigns to help truly needy students.
I attended one such campaign where poor students testified how bursaries helped them achieve their dreams. Their situations were dire – domestic violence, murder, rape – but they were determined to rise above their circumstances by working hard and achieving great results.
In life there are those who seize opportunities and emerge victorious regardless of great obstacles. Then there are those who thrive on being victims because it is the only currency they have. They often are the destructive ones. As with Zuma, those students who break the law should be held criminally liable and expelled. SA can least afford such wastage.