Students across South African universities have held meetings and some have already started with demonstrations, after Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande made the long awaited announcement of an eight per cent recommended increment for tertiary institutions.
Wits University students in Johannesburg rejected Nzimande’s adjustment announcement yesterday and quickly threatened to strike for free education. The institution’s campuses have all been shut down and students have taken to the streets. University of Cape Town students have also continued with demonstrations after they had disrupted the fees commission earlier this month.
“The only language they understand is disruption, so that is what we are going to do, we are going to disrupt the system until they can fully fund and finance higher education,” says Mzwandile Ntshwanti , Project media and campaign officer at Wits.
Most universities across the country have been fighting for free education and don’t want an increment. University of KwaZulu Natal students commenced earlier with protests for free quality education, with demonstrations that resulted to a heavy police presence where over 20 students were arrested. The UKZN SRC will meet to reflect on the results and will confirm whether they will continue with the strike or not. That is according to SRC Secretary General, Philani Ntshobeni.
Rhodes University SRC in Grahamstown held a meeting yesterday after the announcement and had consultations with all the students from all campuses. According to Happyness Raselabe, SRC Secretary General, they filed a report acknowledging how students feel about the fee adjustment announcements to the institution’s management. She also added that at the moment striking is still unclear even though a small portion of students have started.
“At the moment we will try to remain civil minded and work with the little things we have,” she said.
Nelson Mandela Bay University have already started with a #nmmustutdown and are meeting with the institution’s management today.
The University of the Free State (UFS), decided to close all its campuses until Friday 23 September 2016, after demonstrations by students.
A statement on the university”s website reads: “Although the university management is in favour of peaceful protests, it condemns these disruptions, especially as it took place during an important time in the academic calendar.”
The University of Pretoria, which is having its SRC elections today, welcomed the Minister’s announcement and met with stakeholders regarding a 2017 fee increase for households earning more than R600K per annum. Tshwane University of Technology students also shut down its campuses after Nzimande’s announcement.
Walter Sisulu University will have its SRC elections this month. Only Fort Hare University has declared that it would not increase fees.
No other institutional management has declared fee increment amounts yet but most universities have welcomed Nzimande’s decision.