The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) on Thursday said that they were impatient with the implementation of free tertiary education, following a string of protests by students at universities around South Africa.
“From the 2007 Polokwane Conference as well as the 2012 Mangaung conference of the ANC have not only called for free education but the Mangaung Conference has put in place time frames in which this matter should have been addressed,” ANCYL spokesperson, Mondli Mkhize, said in a statement.
The ANCYL president and provincial chairpersons have convened an urgent meeting to address the current issues afflicting institutions of higher learning which is known as #FeesMustFall.
The protests that have taken place at various universities in South Africa, started more than two weeks ago after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that state universities could hike next year’s fees, capped at eight percent.
“Whilst we welcome the intervention of the president on establishing a commission on fees, we believe that the decision to establish that commission itself was as a result of rolling mass actions that have started last year and have intensified this year,” ANCYL said.
“We believe that had the Mangaung resolutions on free education and its time frames been adhered to, the situation currently taking place could have been avoided.”
ANCYL said that a moratorium on fee increments should remain in place until the commission completed its mission.
“We have called for the minister of higher education to halt the announcement of the eight percent cap and instead continue with the zero percent arrangement until the commission concludes its work, the minister after consultation continued to make this announcement,” they said.
“Whilst we applaud the attempt to “cushion” the missing middle on this matter, we believe that this discussion should have been ongoing and we believe the timing of the announcement could have been halted.”
The ANCYL said that the demands of the students were genuine and deserved to be listened to, but condemned the destruction of property and the burning of libraries and violence.
“The burning and destruction of property undermines the genuine struggle of students, we call on the police to also exercise restraint and not use excessive force of brutality,” ANCYL said.
On Tuesday, two students were arrested and detained at the Hillbrow police station, but were later released.
“We call for the release of the arrested students and the lifting of suspension for students who were part of this struggle, we believe that this matter requires a dialogue. Students are not criminals but legitimate social agents yearning for free education,” the league said.
The meeting of the ANCYL president and provincial chairpersons agreed on a number of frameworks moving forward which included the meeting of President Jacob Zuma within the next few days to discuss their concerns about the commission, as well as approaching the private sector at the JSE to fund education, and call on the taxation of the wealthy to fund education.
Witwatersrand University management along with former leaders of the Black Students Society and SRCs mediated negotiations between student groups to postpone the academic programme to Monday.
– African News Agency (ANA)