South Africa’s national student movement, hashtag #FeesMustFall, has reached a victory as President Jacob Zuma announced no increment for the 2016 academic year.
Students protesting against exorbitant university fees gathered at the Union Buildings earlier today to hear the outcome of the president’s meeting with academics and student bodies.
After consultation with student leaders and Vice Chancellors, the president said, “Discussions will continue looking at broader issues.” In light of the current exam period, he confirmed that Vice Chancellors will increase exam period time.
Zuma said the government needs to look at the long-term package of issues raised at the meeting including free education, racism, accommodation, black debt and institutional autonomy. A task team has been put together to address funding issues.
Earlier today, in an attempt to keep the students outside of the building, police had locked gates and formed a barricade against students however this was met with violence as students hurled stones at the police force and cut down the gates at the union buildings in forced entry.
Students had reportedly started a fire and more were jumping over the broken down Union Buildings gates.
In the thick of it, CNBC Africa reporter, Rofhiwa Madzena, said “ Students are now throwing public toilets, which they have just unearthed and police are standing by idly doing nothing in a state of shock and fear. “Four stunt grenades went off as students made their way in the grounds of the Union buildings.
Madzena reported that a new development in an act of solidarity was academics dressed in their gowns and acting as human barricades to protect these students.
According to Madzena, while there will be possible reports that police were hurting students, “we witnessed first-hand that it was the students provoking the police.”
Following President Zuma’s address, there were mixed reactions from students and the general narrative was that a zero per cent increase was only the beginning.