Students will keep the fires burning if universities resolve to increase tuition fees, the Economic Freedom Fighters Students Command (EFFSC) warned yesterday.
This was in response to an announcement by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who said universities could increase tuition fees for 2017 but had to cap them at 8%.
EFFSC leader Mpho Morolane yesterday told The Citizen the movement would engage various student organisations to map a way forward.
“Our response to the minister’s announcement is that we are demanding free education now,” Morolane said.
SA Students Congress (SRC) president Thabo Moloja said the rich had to pay for tertiary education.
“We must also take into consideration the minister’s announcement was only a temporary solution and, therefore, our struggle for free education for the poor will continue,” Moloja said.
The University of Pretoria’s students’ representative council said it would only plan a mass shutdown once the institution had announced their fees.
Meanwhile, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus was expected to see a protest march to the provincial legislature today.
Student leaders had indicated that the march would not only be attended by students, but also by members of the community and school pupils.
“These demands were simple,” student leader Chuma Wakeni said. “Free education now.”
Wakeni said the march would be peaceful, but if the demonstrators were met with violence by police “they will fight back with violence”.
“We are going to be violent too in order to give them some morality and humanise them,” he charged, saying rubber bullets were a no-no.
“We applied for this march and it was approved.”
But it remained uncertain what students at the university’s Durban campus were planning. The University of Cape Town (UCT) and Stellenbosch University, both in the Western Cape, also reacted yesterday, following the minister’s announcement, which was rejected.
The UCT’s student representative council said it was dissatisfied with Nzimande’s lack of attention “to the resounding call for free education”.
“If the president continues to ignore this call, we will join others to rally for mass action and take our battle to the foot of parliament, Treasury and the Union Buildings,” the SRC warned.