Fort Hare celebrations to go ahead

By Drum Digital
19 May 2016

Government says the University of Fort Hare’s centenary celebrations will go ahead tomorrow despite ongoing protests at the university.

By Aphiwe Boyce

President Jacob Zuma is billed to address the  celebrations in Alice in the Eastern Cape. The celebration will acknowledge the role that the university, the first historically black institution, has played in educating Africans. Its former students include Nelson Mandela, Phyllis Ntantala, Robert Mugabe, Govan Mbeki and former DRUM journalist Can Themba.

Last night, protesting students reportedly set tyres and a tent alight and damaged some buildings, in an effort to force the management to release grants for meal allowances. A number of student organisations at the institution had given management an ultimatum this week.

The groups, including the South African Students Congress (Sasco), Democratic Alliance Students’ Organisation (Daso) and the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command, want management to address issues such as the mounting student debt issues.

Higher Education spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said: “We are at the university, to meet the vice chancellor [VC] and management for a briefing with Acting Minister [of Higher Education and Training] Thulas Nxesi . . . One thing we want to emphasise is that students cannot use the nationally important event such as university's centenary to hold us at gunpoint. We have put measures in place to prevent any form of disruption of the event.

“The management was willing to resolve issues and the VC met them yesterday and so, the gutting by fire and other unacceptable acts of disrupting the event will instead kill the spirit and attitude of solving the issues post the event and harden the attitudes. We always get involved by the institution at a point where there is a cul-de-sac or if the matter is national competency of Government [sic].”

Meanwhile, the event organiser Luthando Bara said security had since been beefed up. “After last night’s incidents, the police were brought in to take charge of the situation and we will continue with the events as planned.”

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