This is a noble struggle, deputy minister tells students

2015-10-29 16:15
(Tammy Petersen, News24)

(Tammy Petersen, News24)

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Cape Town - The crowd of students and workers from various tertiary institutions gathering in front of Parliament might not have been clear on who will be handing over a memorandum, but they seemed to agree on who should receive it.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos.

"To the President!" one protester suggested, and it was met with cheers from the crowd, which has grown to about 300 people.

Among the crowd was University of Cape Town student activist Chumani Maxwele, who was seen addressing a group taking part in the march to Parliament.

The memorandum, which would be handed over later, will ask for an end to outsourcing at tertiary institutions and an explanation for the police's "excessive use of force" during the student protests that rocked the country last week.

The students demanded then that there should be no fee increase in 2016, and this was granted in an announcement last week Friday by President Jacob Zuma.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande was expected to announce on Thursday where government would find the R2.6bn shortfall for universities because of the 0% increase, but earlier in the day his department said they were waiting for President Jacob Zuma to return to the country from India, before any announcements would be made.

On Thursday, about 14 policemen in their riot gear were seen hanging back, keeping a watchful eye on the crowd, who were mostly sporting white headbands.

"The white bands are for peace. We don't want the police to shoot us," a protester explained.

The group's calls for "someone important" to come out from Parliament, was met by the appearance of Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana. "We want the big dogs, not the puppies," a student shouted.

"We have elected you. Humble yourself and sit down," a student leader said, and Manana, in a snappy suit and tie, obediently followed the instruction.

His welcome to the students with "this is your Parliament" however only drew laughter from the crowd.

"We remain committed to free and quality higher education," Manana forged ahead.

This was met with a call by students for him to name "time and date".

Manana said: "I want to thank you for this struggle... We have said this is a noble struggle. Thank you for reminding your government.

"If there was a delay and a feeling that we have actually shelved the [no fees] report, we apologise," said Manana.

Following weeks of protests, UCT has already committed itself to the principle of insourcing, Vice Chancellor Max Price said in a statement on Wednesday.

"This decision assumes that we will have a commitment from staff and students that operations will be allowed to return to full capacity."

The crowd was still waiting to hand over the memorandum.

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

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