20 September 2016

South Africa: Here's What Happened At Universities Countrywide On 20 September 2016

Photo: allafrica.com
Protests at the University of Pretoria, top, where SRC elections were suspended, and clashes between students and security guards at the University of Witwatersrand, bottom.

University of Cape Town

The University of Cape Town has been shut down for another two days after protesters regrouped on Tuesday. Students blockaded entrances and disrupted lectures. A scheduled meeting between students and the Vice Chancellor Max Price was also cancelled, and a meeting between students is set to take place at 8pm on Tuesday.

University of Pretoria

While the academic programme at Tuks has not been hindered, the SRC election was disrupted by protesters on Tuesday.

Students at #UP have drafted a memorandum of demands, not yet clear who it is addressed to or if it will be delivered. #FeesMustFall2016 pic.twitter.com/v3t6WlxoAW

-- The Daily VOX (@thedailyvox) September 20, 2016

University of Kwazulu-Natal

Classes resumed on Tuesday at all campuses of UKZN following a decision by management to bring the spring recess forward by a week. And that decision came in the wake of protests against rising fees.

Students returned to class but activists not aligned to the SRC, and under the banner of Fees Must Fall, have threatened to shut down the university on Wednesday. In the meanwhile, students from the Pietermaritzburg campus marched to the provincial legislature, whey they handed over a memorandum. In it, they reject the fee increment and demand: free education and the scrapping of historical debt, intervention into police brutality and justice for survivors of sexual assault, that all private security be withdrawn from the university, free sanitary pads, and the support of the provincial government for free education.

#UKZN #PMB Students have arrived at the KZN provincial legislature and are chanting outside #FeesMustFall2016 pic.twitter.com/WyfG1OhXoT

-- The Daily VOX (@thedailyvox) September 20, 2016

But it wasn't all unified though.

On their return to campus, clashes broke out between the SRC and students aligned to EFF.

University of the Free State

The campus has been shut down.

We received this update from Thomas Kolathu:

"A group of students personally visited the gates and closed them this morning. A mass meeting was convened and there were a few scuffles between the students aligned with the EFF and the SRC president.

The collective was trying to decide on two possible options:

1) fight the varsity on the 0% increment and use that to put pressure on government for free education, or

2) Have an indefinite shutdown till government is forced to intervene.

The SRC also plans on engaging government and the corporate sector directly."

Stellenbosch University

Classes at Stellenbosch University's Tygerberg Campus were suspended. EWN quoted the university's Martin Viljoen describing the situation at the university's main campus as "tense".

"The situation is also a bit tense with about 30 students protesting on the campus."

North West University - Mafikeng campus

Protests were reported at the Mafikeng campus prompting the university to warn students that an interdict is still in place.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

On Tuesday, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) campus was shut down. Our correspondent Sikelela Matandela said students feel their demands for free education had been misconstrued.

On Tuesday, the university sent out an email suspending university business on for Wednesday and Thursday to "Allow management to actively engage with students".

Student leadership held a mass meeting with the students to consolidate a way forward. The leadership plans to meet with management on Wednesday where they will submit a memorandum of demands and await response on whether or not the management will support their cause.

Nicholas Nyati, SRC President of NMMU, described the mass meeting on Monday night that informed the way forward for Tuesday's shutdown.

"The university must address our immediate issues so we are shutting down the university. Secondly, when you shutdown the university you attract the national eye because universities are a monument of the people. When you shut down, you are refuting the government and the government are forced to respond."

Thandeka Tshabalala, deputy provincial secretary of SASCO in the Eastern Cape, has had enough of Minister Nzimande's evading the pronouncement of free education.

"We have backed the government enough, we have voted for the ANC. Now we want what is ours and ours is free education."

Azola Mboniswa, DASO Institutional chairperson of NMMU, says that Nzimande is turning students and universities against each other.

"The minister is playing hard to get and is shifting the blame, dividing us and the universities. We do not understand why in the first place the department [of Higher Education and Training] in itself exists if universities can take such decisions and make full implementation. The universities will never, in a single day, give us free higher education. But we will get free higher education when the government sets its priorities right."

Zane Mncam, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Student Command Chairperson of South Campus, is prepared to strike for as long as there is solidarity in the cause for free education.

"We should understand that in each and every struggle, there needs to be compromise. And if it means that we not go to class for a day or a week or a month or even a year then that's what it takes."

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