Protesting #FeesMustFall student leaders have for some time been trying to organise a meeting with President Jacob Zuma, but no official response has been forthcoming, secretary-general of the student representative council (SRC) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Fasiha Hassan, says.
Hassan this week told The Citizen that students wanted to speak to the president before the end of this year.
“We have invited the president through his office on numerous occasions because we want him to get a direct account of what the real challenges are university students have to face everyday,” Hassan said.
“Despite our attempts, we have not received any response from his office.” The SRC head said students wanted the final exams to be postponed to early next year because many were not ready due to the ongoing #FeesMustFall protests.
“We are saying, let us rather use the remainder of this academic year to have talks on how to arrive at the realisation of free tertiary education,” Hassan said.
“The president should make use of this opportunity to meet with students and hear what they have to say.”
In his response, presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said Zuma had appointed a ministerial task team. He said the ministers had met different stakeholders in the higher education sector several times.
“The president has expressed government’s willingness to work with students and other stakeholders to find a solution,” Ngqulunga said.
“That commitment has not changed.”
Students at Wits and other universities embarked on protests more than a month ago, demanding free education.
This action was sparked by an announcement by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that universities could determine fee increases for next year. Following weeks of protests marred by violence and student leader arrests, calm appears to have returned to most institutions of higher learning.