Will Blade follow Hart after accusing students of “culture of entitlement”?

Chris Hart, former Standard Bank economist
Chris Hart

One lazy Sunday afternoon last December, a social media storm erupted after economist Chris Hart opined that on Twitter that: “More than 25 years after apartheid ended, the victims are increasing along with a sense of entitlement and hatred towards minorities.” Hart’s reference to “entitlement” led to him being branded a racist. His erstwhile employer, Standard Bank, moved swiftly to suspend the high profile commentator and once the dust settled, encouraged him to resign. On an interview with Radio 702 this morning, SA cabinet minister Blade Nzimande referred to “a creeping dangerous culture of entitlement…” Will similar outrage erupt? Is an “entitlement” description that’s so bad for a goose also applicable to the gander? Does hypocrisy make you nauseous too? – Alec Hogg        

By Kevin Crowley

(Bloomberg) — South African Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said students protesting university fees should stop violence and instead work with a government-appointed commission of inquiry into the system.

“There’s a commission and they have been consulted, they are being irresponsible,” Nzimande said in an interview Thursday on Johannesburg-based Talk Radio 702. “There’s a creeping dangerous culture of entitlement and abuse of the democratic right to protest.”

File photo: Students protest over planned increases in tuition fees outside South Africa's Parliament in Cape Town, October 21, 2015. Riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades on Wednesday at hundreds of protesting students who stormed the parliament precinct in Cape Town to try to disrupt the reading of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene's interim budget. REUTERS/Mark Wessels
File photo: Students protest over planned increases in tuition fees outside South Africa’s Parliament in Cape Town, October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Wessels

The government disagrees with some protesters’ demands for free education for all and instead wants to drop fees for poor students in the long term, Nzimande said. On Monday, he recommended that universities decide their own fees for next year, with increases capped at 8 percent while students from households earning less than 600,000 rand ($44,500) a year will get subsidies. That will mean no fee increases for 70 to 75 percent of students, Nzimande said.


Universities this week suspended classes and closed campuses as violence erupted between police and students protesting fee increases. Police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at stone-throwing students at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“Even if people are angry, nothing justifies endangering the careers and the future of our young people,” Nzimande said. “We are a democracy, we’ve got ways of expressing ourselves.”

President Jacob Zuma last year put fee increases for 2016 on hold following weeks of student protests, and in January established a committee to evaluate the viability of free education.

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