Student protests began back in 2000, says former DA youth leader
The recent student protests over fee increases were not the first of their kind but past protests did not get attention because it happened at smaller universities, DA MP Makashule Gana said.
Gana, who studied at the University of Limpopo, Turfloop, told News24 that during his second week of university in 2000 he joined a protest over a 7% increment in fees.
"In universities like Turfloop, Fort Hare, Walter Sisulu and others there are protests every year.
"We need to ask ourselves why this particular [protest] got amplified. Is it because it started at Wits? Then there was UCT, then Stellenbosch. But when Turfloop protests, it is expected..." said Gana, a former DA youth leader.
There was a perception that universities such as Wits and the University of Cape Town were exclusive or "special".
Gana compared it to a service delivery protest held in the township of Alexandra compared to one held in Sandton.
He said the attention given to the student protests was warranted but when Wits was not protesting it did not mean that no students were protesting.
The DA MP said he had raised the issue and even questioned whether he as a former student activist had drifted away from the plight of students.
"It concerns me as a young politician. Are we responding adequately as an organisation, as a group of like-minded people? Sometimes not," he said.
"Did I get co-opted into the institution that I forgot the plight of students?"
This was something which needed to be discussed.
There were lessons to be learnt about the protests and how it just caught on.