The past two weeks have exuded a sense of hope for the student movement. The successful negotiations between the SRC and the university authorities on initial fee payments for SADC students set a positive tone for the year. We are grateful to office of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo for a progressive approach in handling this matter.
More importantly, we are grateful to members of our movement who attended consultative and briefing meetings with the SRC. It was heartening that there were those who attended these meetings even though they were not affected by the initial fee policy. Their principle of solidarity has ensured that those who might have been financially excluded remain a part of us.
Vice-President Comrade Mohammed Surty also led an SRC delegation that met the Minister and Deputy Minister of Education on February 23 as we boost our transformation agenda. We are happy to report that we were well received by her.
In his budget presentation, Finance Minister Comrade Trevor Manuel acknowledged that the government "understands the impatience that motivates some of those who are drawn into these (student) demonstrations".
We welcome government's seriousness in its intentions to ensure that "the most vulnerable" have access to tertiary education and also their commitment to improving the quality of education.
Accepting that the country faces a number of challenges: R1-billion for improved building and equipment for further education colleges and R776-million for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and new conditional grants for further education colleges, should bring proportionate rewards.
Also, on this note, our Vice-President has undertaken to engage with the university over its financial aid policy.
Comrade Trevor also highlighted the conscience of the nation. As a responsible student movement that seeks to respond to the socio-economic challenges of the country, we welcome the increase in social grants and the holistic mobilisation of the economy to be "pro-poor". Land restitution to correct the injustices born of the illegitimate and illegal apartheid government is an element of social justice which invariably brings economic transformation for the country. If the country is to avoid falling into the political stalemate currently bedevilling Zimbabwe then, as students, we ought to applaud the injection of financial resources into the land question.
With just three weeks before the March 31 parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe, we continue to express our solidarity with students there. Our movement can only ignore the plight of Zimbabwean students during and beyond the elections at our own peril. Independently and with the combined efforts of other student movements in the country, we need to show solidarity with our counterparts as the country grapples with these unparalleled socio-economic and political challenges.
We take special exception to the harassment of student leaders and insistently deplore any clandestine attempts by any of the political players in Zimbabwe to thwart the right of students to choose their representatives. We wish the people of Zimbabwe a peaceful and tolerant election that will help resolve the political tensions in the country.
Although we will call Comrade Minister of Finance to account for putting alcoholic beverages beyond the reach of our ever hard-pressed student budgets, we wish to express our pride in the Ministry of Finance. The humble references in the speech to the advice he got from the "ordinary" citizens is certainly in line with the principle that the people must govern.
Earn a few rands
If you want to earn a few rands by helping in the logistics of the SRC, please sign up your name at the SRC offices reception by March 10. Only 30 people needed.
Wishing you a wonderful week,
Nqobizitha 'Fire' Mlilo
SRC President 2004/5
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