The SA Union of Students (SAUS) has on Wednesday hinted at another series of crippling mass protests after making its presentation to the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training chaired by Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher in Tshwane.
“We are very disappointed by the slow pace of the commission and the arrogance portrayed by Judge Heher. We are very disappointed and we are putting it on record that we have the masses of our people behind us and we are going to meet in the streets,” SAUS secretary-general Sthembiso Ndlovu told reporters.
“They have told us that for the past six months, they have been dealing with logistics. As a union, we are now going to travel the length and breadth of this country, interacting with our students in mass meetings at institutions of higher learning. We will be reporting on what happened here today.”
Ndlovu said a way forward regarding the students’ reaction to the high fees paid at universities would be discussed and found at those mass meetings.
“If students say let us go and study at the Union Buildings, or let us go and study at parliament – who are we to defy the mandate given to us by the students? We are very disappointed,” said Ndlovu.
The SAUS was first to make submissions to the Heher-led commission of inquiry into the burning issue of higher education funding.
Four leaders of SAUS – president Avela Mjajubana, deputy secretary-general Fasiha Hassan, treasurer-general Misheck Mugabe and Ndlovu – took turns making submissions to the commission. At the end of their submissions, the student leaders were upset because the inquiry had no questions for them.
“We were listening when the spokesperson of this commission this morning (on TV), when he told the nation that SAUS would be presenting and there would be a panel of experts to probe our presentation. It seems as if we are finishing but there is no probing to our presentation and I do not know whether our presentation was that satisfactory and that much (to the extent) that there isn’t even one single question,” said Mugabe.
“I want that question answered, judge, because so that we can have comfort. It seems like now we’re in church where the pastor preaches and we say amen and go home. What is the panel of experts saying about our presentation? We want to know what is your thinking, as a panel of experts appointed by the president.”
In July, President Jacob Zuma extended the deadline by which a commission of inquiry should complete its work.
The commission, announced by Zuma in January following last year’s countrywide protests over the escalating costs of higher education, was meant to complete its work in eight months.
“The Commission will now complete its work by 30 June 2017. The extension was done on the request of the Chairperson of the Commission, Justice Heher,” Zuma’s office said in a statement recently.
“The Commission is expected to submit a preliminary report to the President on or before 15 November 2016.”
Last year a number of university campuses were shut down after the #FeesMustFall campaign gained momentum and even saw students storm parliament. This led Zuma to announce a zero percent fee hike for the 2016 academic year.
– African News Agency (ANA)