No end in sight at Wits

2015-10-16 23:22


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Johannesburg – There was no end in sight on Friday night to the deadlock between Wits University students and management over a fee increase.

Vice Chancellor Adam Habib, council chairperson Randall Carolissen and some of their colleagues were still in the Senate House Concourse on the East Campus with hundreds of students shortly before 23:00 on Friday, university spokesperson Shirona Patel said.

They were waiting for a council meeting to convene. Students were not allowing management to leave the concourse.

They wanted management to decide immediately to reverse a decision to increase fees for 2016 by 10.5%.

“We will sit here till we get what we want,” former Students' Representative Council president Mcebo Dlamini told the students.

“This leadership here they have powers to issue an executive decision. This is an emergency,” he said.

“I can promise you whatever you want to hear, it will have no legal standing. It must go through council,” Carolissen said before he was shouted down earlier.

Patel said some council members were there, but not enough to make a quorum, so it was possible that a meeting would only take place on Saturday. The council had between 28 and 30 members from various bodies, including government and the private sector.

She said Habib and his colleagues had agreed to wait with the students for as long as possible, as trying to leave would make the situation more volatile.

Personal issues

Patel said two of the student leaders, former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini and EFF member Vuyani Pambo appeared to have personal issues with Habib. Earlier this year he suspened Pambo following violence during a meeting, and removed Mcebo as SRC president for his comments about Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

Security and police had been briefed to wait outside the concourse, to avoid stoking tensions.

Patel said SRC president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa and his deputy Shaeera Kalla were nowhere to be found and appeared to have lost control of the students.

Both of them could not be reached by phone late on Friday.

Patel said what made the situation more complicated was that there were various groups, all with different demands and leaders. They included the EFF Wits Student Council, The Progressive Youth Alliance, and the All Residence Council.

Patel said at present there was no talk of asking Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to get involved.

Read more on:    university of johannesburg  |  adam habib  |  johannesburg  |  education  |  university fees

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