Gauteng ANC in talks with students over #FeesMustFall

21 January 2016 - 17:29 By Genevieve Quintal

The ANC in Gauteng says it is engaging with student organisations on the Fees Must Fall campaign out of principle, and not because it is a local government election year.

This was after the ANC in the province said it leaders had been interacting with student groups and university vice chancellors over the past few weeks. 

"All these issues we are dealing with, we are not dealing with them because of the electoral implications," provincial secretary David Makhura told reporters in Johannesburg.

"We are dealing with these issues from the point of view of the country's development. We need more skilled people at that level."

Makhura, who is also Gauteng premier, said that when the party started its election campaign it would engage with students at different campuses, but at this point the ANC in the province was not campaigning.

"This is a fundamental question about the development of our country. That is why the system must expand, that is why access must be expanded. It doesn't matter who wins a particular election, it's the right thing to do."

Some protesting students in the #FeesMustFall movement have threatened to boycott the elections, which are due to be held between May and August this year.

According to the Electoral Commission of SA, current voter registration is 24.98 million, out of around 34.1m people of voting age (18 years and older).

As many as 9.1m eligible voters are not currently registered, with over 80% of these under the age of 35.

ANC Gauteng secretary Hope Papo said the party's local government election campaign would focus on the youth and reach all students and young people who were not in universities.

"We are confident with work which has been done in institutions of higher learning that they will reciprocate in our province."

The party in the province welcomed the work done by government and and the measures put in place by institutions to address concerns raised by students.

Papo explained that the ANC's understanding of free education was that it would only be free for those who could not afford it.

"It covers students from working class and poor backgrounds. Those who can afford, like myself, can't expect the state to pay for [their] children. I actually pay. That's our understanding of our resolution,"  he said.

The Gauteng leadership warned those who wanted to disrupt the academic year and shutdown universities.

Makhura said shutting down these institutions would be a step backwards.

Papo also issued a stern warning to those who tried to disrupt the academic year.

"We will mobilise against anyone who wants to wreck the academic year,"  he said.

Source: News 24