President Jacob Zuma arrives for the official announcement of the munincipal election results at the result centre in Pretoria, August 6, 2016.
JOHANNESBURG - The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) on Tuesday blamed President Jacob Zuma for a “total lack of leadership” which it said had led to university student protests descending into anarchy.
“The ACDP is appalled at the total lack of leadership displayed by President Jacob Zuma and his government. They have allowed legitimate student protests to descend into anarchy,” said the party in a statement.
The ACDP said student protesters “appear to be losing their noble goal of obtaining free education after seemingly having been infiltrated and hijacked by criminals with wicked political agendas and no genuine concern about the education crisis in our country”.
Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, the leader of the ACDP, said: “We have a weak government which seems unable to deal with criminals. The burning of buildings, buses and violence in Braamfontein could have been and should have been prevented. The looting of businesses is a clear indication that many who joined student protests at Wits yesterday were not genuine university students”.
The reverend made his remarks in apparent reference to the violent protests for free education at the University of the Witwatersrand on Monday. Protesting students were involved in running battles with police and private security at the campus before moving off campus.
A bus was set alight and shops were looted in Braamfontein, but student leaders denied any students were involved with the crimes.
“The ACDP believes it is unacceptable that President Zuma chose to be out of the country while our university campuses are on fire, and the rights and lives of students who want to carry on with their studies are being undermined and threatened,” said Meshoe.
President Zuma is on a state visit to Kenya.
“It seems that the police have inadequate crime intelligence as violent anarchists are allowed to hide behind the students’ genuine cry for free education."
"Criminals must be arrested and removed from the universities so that learning and teaching can go ahead,” said Meshoe.
He said violence must be stopped in all universities, and discipline and order restored.
“While the ACDP supports the goal of free education for the poor and the right to peacefully protest, we appeal to all students not to throw away the academic year, but to continue with their studies while discussions and debates about free education take place,” said the reverend.
“Please allow teaching and learning to continue as it is the poorest students who might never recover from a wasted academic year. Let us enter into dialogue in an atmosphere of mutual respect free of violence and intimidation so that we can obtain the necessary changes we all want to see.”
Wits management said lectures would continue on Tuesday.
STATEMENT: A call for engagement. pic.twitter.com/rFSdGVZDR4— Wits University (@WitsUniversity) October 10, 2016
STATEMENT: Classes resume despite some protests. pic.twitter.com/fUHKS72gZ3— Wits University (@WitsUniversity) October 10, 2016