Zuma celebrates University of Fort Hare centenary

Zuma celebrates University of Fort Hare centenary

President Jacob Zuma used his speech at the University of Fort Hare’s (UFH’s) centenary celebrations on Friday to lash out at those who claim that people resort to violent protest to attract government’s attention.

Centenary celebrations at University of Fort Hare
Twitter - Silindelo Masikane

“There are some who claim that people resort to violent protest because this is the language that government understands. Any analyst or leader who says that is completely mistaken and should reconsider this position,” Zuma said.

“Students must reflect and think deeply about whose interests they are serving when they go all out to destroy their future and the future of their country. Burning schools, libraries and university buildings means burning the future.”

Zuma’s comments come amid the razing of UFH building by protesting students demanding their institution “immediately facilitate” the signing of loan agreements for poor students, and release funds for meal and transport allowances.

“History will judge those who burn university buildings and schools very harshly,” said the president.

“There can be no justification of violence and anarchy, especially in a country where people have freedom of speech and expression and where government has formal programmes of engaging the people.”

Zuma paid tribute to UFH for contributing to South Africa’s liberation struggle and for educating some of the country’s foremost freedom fighters, including former SA president Nelson Mandela and former ANC president Oliver Tambo.

Zuma also acknowledged “our senior” Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, 92, who was present at the celebrations. Former PAC President Robert Sobukwe, and later generations which included slain SA Communist Party secretary general Chris Hani and many others received a mention from the President.

Other dignitaries in attendance included Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the outgoing chairperson of the African Union Commission and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Zuma said he hoped Fort Hare would continue to nurture young minds and intellectuals to achieve the “liberation of the mind” of the African.

“Liberated minds made it possible for many generations of graduates from this and other institutions of higher learning to fight and defeat colonialism and apartheid,” said Zuma.

“Liberated minds will make it possible to achieve genuine freedom faster – freedom from feelings of inferiority, from poverty and inequality.”

Outside the venue police kept a close watch. Violent protests rocked the university this week. Protesting student claimed the centenary celebrations were being prioritised over their needs.

Earlier on Friday police used water canons to disperse students who had made their way to the sports complex at the Alice campus, where the centenary celebrations were being held.

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