Students and staff members from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) on Thursday held meetings at the Braamfontein campus to prepare for the much anticipated General Assembly.
After weeks of sometimes violent protests, which have interrupted the academic programme, Wits management invited students, staff members and alumni to a general assembly scheduled for Friday. It hopes to reach a consensus on resuming the academic programme on Monday.
“It is exceptionally rare that a general assembly of the University is called. It is an extraordinary event, convened on only the gravest of occasions,” said a communique from Wits, which invited all concerned to attend.
“The role of the general assembly is to adopt resolutions reached by consensus in the University. Wits is holding a general assembly with the aim to unite all constituencies in a joint stance on an issue of national importance, in this case focusing on access to quality higher education.”
Protests for free education, which have affected 17 of the country’s 26 universities, started more than two weeks ago soon after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced last month that these institutions could hike next year’s fees capped at eight percent
The fee hikes will, however, not affect poor students and those whose parents earn less than R500,000 a year.
On Tuesday – after running battles between students and police – Wits management agreed to postpone the resumption of the academic programme and to hold a general assembly on Friday.
The university management, which has told students that it can not afford free education for all students, wants the academic programme to resume on Monday. The university has warned that if lectures do not resume on Monday it will not be able to save the academic year.
However, protesting students insist the institution must remain closed until their demands for free education are met.
– African News Agency (ANA)