ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s remarks about protesting students have been labelled reckless, stupid and outrageous.
Mantashe caused controversy on Wednesday when he told reporters he would shut down universities for 16 months if he was the minster of higher education. He said he would do this to teach students a lesson.
Khaya Xaba, national spokesman of the Young Communist League, said: “It was a reckless statement to make, because it means we must violate the rights of those who are not striking.
“What we should be calling for is an end to student demands being used for narrow political agendas.
“#FeesMustFallReloaded is mostly led by those on a mission to become famous.”
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said: “I think our political leaders are not coping well with the situation. It’s important to show leadership and to win back the trust of students.”
DA shadow minister for higher education, Yusuf Cassim, said: “His comments show the ANC’s failure to prioritise higher education, which has caused the current crisis.”
Acting EFF spokesman Fana Mokoena said: “Gwede should be ashamed as a leader of the ruling party. They should have been the first ones speaking to the students and clarifying the position of the government. This is a response we would have expected from PW Botha. The ANC has lost touch and will die a natural death.”