Students 'stood up' at Parliament

2015-11-02 16:05
Students protest in front of Parliament. (Jennie Evans, News24)

Students protest in front of Parliament. (Jennie Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - Students waiting in vain for Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana in front of Parliament on Monday, vowed to return again next Monday - giving them a week to "mobilise the entire Western Cape".

And this time, they also want the ministers of labour and finance to come and address them, student leader Mxolisi Mlandu told a representative of the education department who came to address them after a two-hour-long wait.

There was also a less than subtle threat to bar exams at the University of Cape Town.

"So don't cause a national shutdown," Mlandu told Nomonde Rasmeni, a director in the office of the minister of education.

The group earlier grudgingly agreed that Rasmeni address them. "We don't know who you are. We are glad that finally you respect our people. So I don't know who's who, but there's no deputy minister."

Rasmeni explained they were late because they were busy working on a response. She said [Higher Education Minister Blade] Nzimande and Manana "respect you, they wanted to be here, but are at meetings dealing with this issue".

Education demands ‘noble, legitimate’

Aggrieved students and workers occupied the St John's road intersection outside Parliament earlier after Manana failed to show up. Last Thursday, he promised to give them feedback after accepting a memorandum of demands that #feesmustfall.

Rasmeni acknowledged the students' right to protest, and thanked them for being peaceful. "Your demand for education is a noble and legitimate one, but it is unlikely to be enacted in a single swoop."

She had initially tried to address the students from a distance, but they insisted that she and a group of minders around her join the students in the middle of the intersection.

On October 21, students tried to get past Parliament's wrought iron gates when Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was presenting his mini budget speech.

"'94 changed fokol for us," Mlandu told News24 as students and workers kept up their #feesmustfall protest on the other side of the gates.

"They promised the doors of education will be open for everyone, but it's not free," said the Pan African Students Organisation leader. By the time I am finished I will owe half a million. Half a million!" said the politics student.

‘This is a black agenda’

The only way forward was for the protest to be in every community, he continued. "So that a mother can go to a university and say, 'Look at my child, he has a matric but he is a gangster because he could not afford the registration.

"There has never been a time in this country where it was possible to obtain a free education. Communities are wounded because they could not get an education. We need to introduce a culture of owning the institutions of public education."

He said it was not enough to have integrated universities as proof of change, but that they would be judged by how they respond to students in future.

"We must not be confused. It must be for the black child because he is poor. This is a black agenda. We want to say that in 2015 our generation introduced a world which has the hope of obtaining an education."

Read more on:    cape town  |  education  |  university fees  |  protests  |  parliament 2015

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