Pretoria – Student leaders throughout the country have drawn a line in the sand and dared government and universities to cross it.
As discussions over fee increments for 2017 continue, student leaders say they are not prepared to toy with the idea of any increase, whatever the amount.
“We have already made a declaration that we are not entertaining news about any increments,” University of Cape Town student leader Masixole Mlandu told News24.
“Our struggle was about free quality education and [Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande] must expect more than what he saw last year.”
Mlandu said students were ready to take to the streets in order to ensure they get what they want.
“It’s about time that the struggle for students goes beyond the corridors of institutions,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Given Mamabolo from the University of Limpopo. He said they were going to reject any increment with free education being the only thing students are willing to settle for.
“They can’t implement increments while we are pushing for free education. Any fee increment will be rejected,” he said.
Fee announcement postponed
Mamabolo said it was disappointing to watch government drag its feet in finding ways to fund free education. He said since the start of the #FeesMustFall movement in 2015 government has not shown that it was doing anything to indicate its consideration of the idea.
“It does not appear as though government attempted to find ways of funding free education,” he said.
University of Pretoria SRC president Thabo Shingange said they would be meeting with students on Monday to talk about the issue of fees.
The SRC said it was unfortunate that a year later they found themselves in the same position which led to the formation of the #FeesMustFall movement and no substantive measures had been put in place to address the issues students raised.
“This meeting will unpack the proposals and the implications within the University of Pretoria and allow for students to voice their concerns. The students will give us a direction in terms of what the next step will be,” Shingange said.
Their stand comes as the country eagerly awaits the announcement by Nzimande regarding university fees for 2017. He was scheduled to give a briefing on Friday where he was expected to make the announcement, but that was cancelled.
Nzimande’s spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said the minister still wanted to consult further before making the announcement.
“Minister Blade Nzimande on Thursday received the report of the Council on Higher Education on fees in 2017, and had hoped to make an announcement as early as today following consultation with a very wide range of stakeholders. These discussions with the vice chancellor’s body Universities South Africa, student representatives, the organisation of university council chairpersons, and civil society and political formations are however still ongoing,” he said.