20 March 2017

South Africa: #FeesMustFall - Convention Brawling Highlights Student Divisions

analysis

The Higher Education National Convention was a gamble. To solve the crisis at universities, it planned to bring different student groups together with civil society, the state and varsity leaders. The same groups have been fighting each other for two years. The gamble turned into a brawl. By GREG NICOLSON.

Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana is proud of the National Education Crisis Forum's work. Over the last year, the forum has visited all nine provinces to hold meetings with students and university staff. It was convened by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke and nine high-profile co-convenors. Some of the meetings were tense and Mpumlwana was worried students would fight, but they always managed to find consensus on a way forward.

"All the meetings we've had before have been successful because there's been no media," laughed Mpumlwana on Sunday. He has worked closely with the forum and is also general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. An intervention at the University of Pretoria, after predominantly black student groups clashed with Afriforum Youth, even led to black and white parents working together.

The Higher Education National Convention was meant to take the provincial dialogues forward and find policy proposals to address...

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