“The ANC in the Western Cape is completely and utterly against the proposed UCT fee increase of 10,3 percent which is not only almost double the inflation rate but continues the exclusionary practice of this university on the basis of financial affordability,” said provincial spokesperson Yonela Diko.
The party’s declaration comes after UCT announced it was suspending all operations on Monday because of student protestors – led by organisations such as the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA), the ANC-aligned South African Students Congress (SASCO), and the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) movement – blocking all entrances to the institution.
The ANCWC’s support for the protest came despite RMF earlier this year saying President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had “blood on their hands” for the Marikana massacre.
The UCT protest, which formed part of nationwide protests against fee increases at tertiary institutions, was sparked by student-led organisations at the University of Witwatersrand.
UCT’s protest differed from the others in that they were also protesting the outsourcing of services.
Diko said the onus was on the university and its council – the highest decision-making body – to ensure obstacles such as a fee increase were obsolete so that South African students could “unlock their potential and begin the climb of the ladder of opportunities”.
He said that the fee increase and the consequential financial exclusion – which happened when students failed to pay their fees – illustrated that UCT’s council was “not truly representative of the University community”.
“Universities must put their students first,” said Diko, “universities exist for the students. No effort should be spared to ensure that students are accommodated, supported, and are put at the very centre of the University culture.”
Diko added that the ANCWC supported the interventions which would on Monday afternoon be announced by Minister for Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande.
“Suffice to say, university autonomy does not allow Nzimande to intervene prematurely at universities,” he said.