UCT students picket at Parliament

UCT students picket at Parliament

Some 300 University of Cape Town students quietly protested outside Parliament on Monday, demanding to know government progress in meeting demands the #feesmustfall movement has made in the past two weeks.

Fees must fall
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“We want the government to tell us the progress they’ve made,” said Bachelor of Arts student Callum Fraser.

He said this included the students’ demand for free education and an end to outsourcing of services at all universities around the country, after UCT vice chancellor Max Price committed in principle that the university would explore finding an estimated R58 million annually to implement insourcing.

Student leader Kiara Ramklass specified that the students were insisting on “Afrocentric, socialist free education” and said the third demand to government was a swift repudiation of heavyhanded police action against the students who marched on Parliament a fortnight ago in an unprecedented step that saw President Jacob Zuma pledge that there would be no university fee increases in 2016.

A visibly tired Ramklass said UCT students had met with Price until the early hours of the morning to discuss how the university would address demands.

“We sent them a list of demands which included financial exclusion, the NSFAS fund, insourcing at other universities, we also asked them to take accountability for the interdict and the police brutality that took place two weeks ago on campus.

“We also wanted their support in a national narrative for free education,” she said.

“I think he seems to support a lot of our demands in principle. I think they also don’t want to aggravate the protests because they are putting out a lot of messages that they want UCT to go back to normal. Seeing us and showing us that he supports us is a step in that direction but I think there is a lot of hostility still because he called the police on us in the very room where we were meeting last night.”

The students were holding placards reading “Free Education” and “Down with labour broking”.

Mandisa Stuurman, a shopsteward from the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), said students helped them secure a deal which would see workers from six services insourced at the university.

“We hope in six months time to be working for the university because of the students,” Stuurman said.

“We are here today to support the students for free education so we are here together in the struggle.”

Stuurman said she had two children, aged 12 and six, and was hoping the students succeeded in their quest for free education as the current fees would exclude her children from attending university.

“My children – they would benefit from this. By the time they are coming, there will be no fees and that would be a good outcome,” she said

UCT reopened on Monday after the university was shut down in response to the student revolt for two weeks and a spokeswoman said the institution was slowly returning to full operationality. Exams are due to begin on November 10.

In the meanwhile, tension was at a high at the University of the Western Cape as some 300 students protested there.

Mnqobi Ngubane, who calls himself a researcher for the #feesmustfall, said it was done in deliberate defiance of a high court interdict obtained against students on Friday.

“We are provoking them to arrest us because that is the message we are getting from them,” he added.

“They have banned all gatherings and so that is what this gathering is about.”

The Western Cape High Court on Friday granted an interdict against 11 students and “all who associated themselves” with that group from holding unauthorised protests at the campus or damaging property. The order explicitly directs police to assist in implementing it. 


File photo: Gallo Images

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