University’s establishment must not be reduced to political game

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Note: The following address was made by Anthony Benadie in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature during the debate on the establishment of the Mpumalanga University.

As one the first and longest standing campaigners for the establishment of a university in the province, the DA is elated to see this dream become a reality, and welcome its long-awaited establishment.

Over the past years, the DA has made repeated calls for the establishment of the Mpumalanga University, as we firmly believe that if managed properly, it can play a pivotal role in producing and retaining top quality academic graduates in the province. This will not only help address the severe skills shortage in this region, but also contribute to reducing unemployment and in turn, boost the economy and alleviate poverty.

In this light, we wish to congratulate all the role players, particularly the members of the interim University Council, for their role and contribution in making this dream a reality. While much still needs to be done as the 2014 academic year fast approaches, I am sure that within a few short years we will be able to look back to where it all began, and see an institution of knowledge which we can all be proud of.

However, as supportive of the university the DA is and regardless our belief that the establishment of such a facility must be highlighted, discussed and commemorated, we firmly believe that from the outset, it must be an independent apolitical institution.

We will tarnish beyond repair, the independent and academic brand of this university if we allow it, to be hi-jacked for political point-scoring in its infancy.

It is in this light that I question the reasoning behind deputy the Chief Whip, Honourable BA Majuba’s call for this debate, and his praise of Premier Mabuza.

Honourable Speaker, I think the man is confused and suffers from a severe case of political schizophrenia.

Today, the Honourable Majuba will attempt to convince us of what a great leader the Honourable Premier is, by referring to the leadership of Premier Mabuza and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, as “visionary”.

However, just last week, the Honourable Majuba said that Mafia-type leaders in the ANC were killing people, but not getting arrested. Last week you said and I quote, “that the ANC was infiltrated by “lumpen tenderpreneurs” and that “The ANC in the province is run by mafias and gangsters ….. We can’t have an ANC run out of fear.”

Honourable Majuba, you can’t have two positions on the same man!

Which begs the question, were you forced to table today’s motion of praise as a result of your utterances last week, or did you make those utterances last week to counter this motion of praise?

Both ways, it raises serious questions about your commitment to the Mpumalanga University and its independence. By doing so, you have not only exposed yourself as a flip-flopping politician of low principle, but you have shown that the ANC is hell-bent on using the establishment of the University for its own political self-interest.

The DA believes that the function and purpose of the Mpumalanga University is paramount to develop skills and improve the lives of the youth in the province. For this reason we call on it to be an institution without reproach – an institution which solely focuses on improving lives, reducing poverty and boosting the local economy.

We will not allow it to be abused by the ANC, and in wishing the interim council the very best for their journey ahead, we call on them to do everything in their power to ensure that the University of Mpumalanga is always a centre of knowledge and excellence – free from political interference and abuse.