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Fri Sep 30 05:12:43 SAST 2016

Wits students say they are divided along political lines

Roxanne Henderson | 20 September, 2016 07:43
Nzimande had on Monday announced that universities must determine the level of fee adjustments for 2017 themselves‚ with the proviso that this should not be above 8%. File photo
Image by: FREDDY MAVUNDA / Business Day

Students at the University of the Witwatersrand complained of division along political lines in their ranks when they met to discuss fresh demands following higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande's 2017 fees announcement.

Referring to the T-shirts of various political parties worn by some‚ one student addressed the crowd saying: “Those things are dividing students. As from tomorrow no one must come here in a T-shirt.”

Incoming SRC president Kefentse Mkhari had earlier called for a shutdown of the university's operations‚ rejecting Nzimande's 2017 fees increment announcement.

Nzimande had on Monday announced that universities must determine the level of fee adjustments for 2017 themselves‚ with the proviso that this should not be above 8%.

“[Today] they allowed academic processes to conclude. We feel like it's an insult to us. Today there shouldn't have been any academic processes‚” Mkhari said.

When the floor was opened for comments‚ students were quick to comment on divisions among them.

“We need to stand united. T-shirts [of political parties] and organisations should not be the focal point‚” one student said.

SRC secretary general Fasiha Hassan said: “The other big issue‚ comrades‚ is that we are divided.”

She said that the government would use divisions in student bodies to destabilise the movement‚ calling for free and decolonised education.

University staff member and PhD student Leigh-Ann Naidoo called on students to reject the fees commission because it is based on the wrong question – one of feasibility.

“We must be clear that we do not recognise that commission or its processes. We need to be able to tell government that commissions don't help.”

She also urged students to put pressure on academic staff to join the student movement and march on various centres of government this week.

Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command leader Simamkele Dlakavu said that the fight for free education should be taken to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

“We need to go to the JSE. That is where capital is being held.”

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