Helen Zille. Picture: THE TIMES
Helen Zille. Picture: THE TIMES

THE ongoing Fees Must Fall protests have nothing to do with fees but more to do with power, Western Cape premier Helen Zille said on Monday.

Speaking at the Cape Town press club during the launch of her autobiography, Zille said protesting students "do not want a resolution, but a revolution".

Tensions continue to run high across several universities in the country as students intensify their campaign for a 0% fee increase across the board and, ultimately, free education. Protests at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of the Free State and Stellenbosch University turned violent on Monday as students engaged in running battles with the police.

In September, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said that the protests had elements of a "colour revolution". The term "colour revolution" is generally used to describe a series of protests that succeeded in overthrowing post-communist governments in the 2000s.

Zille said: "(The protests) have nothing to do with fees … but [are] more about power … We need to stand up for rule of law."

She said students keep "moving goal posts, negotiation after negotiation", which suggests that they do not "want a resolution, but a revolution". Zille said what compounded the situation was that public-order police "are not well trained".

"We don’t have a well-trained public-order policing. We need well-trained public-order police to protect other people’s rights … we should not be shooting at kids … but we have to maintain public order … if police get driven back with stones we are in complete trouble," said Zille.

Zille’s autobiography, titled Not Without a Fight, details some key events during her tenure as DA leader. Among other things, she writes about Lindiwe Mazibuko’s controversial exit from the party. Zille says that she was wrong to back Mazibuko in the bruising race for the parliamentary leadership position against the incumbent at the time, Athol Trollip.

She also discusses the DA’s failed merger with Mamphela Ramphele’s Agang, and states that this was "one of my biggest mistakes".

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