Protests like a 'Campus Spring'

2015-10-22 05:21
(Tina Hsu, News24)

(Tina Hsu, News24)

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Protesters chant 'Blade must fall' as Nzimande tries to address crowd

2015-10-21 16:39

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has come out to address protesters at Parliament.WATCH

Johannesburg - The nationwide protests by university students against fee increases have several similarities with the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa a few years ago, according to Student Village.

"The... interesting fact is that we’ve seen students from other campuses unite on social media and now we’re seeing similar actions on other campuses around the country… [it] smells like Campus Spring," the youth marketing company's CEO Ronen Aires told News24. 

"We are seeing a lot more students participating in these protests than before. Students are using social media to co-ordinate, and the speed is similar [to the Arab Spring].

'A form of revolution'

"This is a form of revolution where the students out of frustration are saying 'no more'. This is not about overthrowing a regime like in the Arab Spring, but instead is about forcing those in power to listen."

He said South Africa would look back at this as the time its students said "enough is enough". 

"This [the wide-scale protests] is the extent they have to go to for people in power to listen."

Students at most major institutions around the country protested on Wednesday against fee increases. 

In an alleged effort to stem some of the social media contact over the protests, some universities had reportedly turned off their wifi earlier in the week. 

Hundreds of protesting students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) descended on Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday for Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene's mid-term budget speech. 

After storming the gates of the Parliament precinct, they clashed with police. The police eventually fired stun grenades to push the crowd back.

Several protesters were arrested.

Nene's budget speech was disrupted by EFF MPs chanting "Fees must fall". They were eventually removed from the National Assembly. 

The speech carried on as normal while the clashes continued outside. 

Rubber bullets

Earlier on Wednesday, police fired rubber bullets at protesters from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, after they allegedly threw stones. Police spokesperson Brigadier Marinda Mills said nobody was injured or arrested.

The SA Students Congress earlier called on all students to embark on nationwide mass action against fee increments until their demands were met.

The protest action began last week Wednesday, with Wits University students protesting against a proposed 10.5% fee hike for 2016. Other institutions joined in this week. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that vice chancellors of various universities had agreed to cap their fee hikes at 6% for 2016. Students, however, were adamant that there should be no increases at all. 

Aires said there was a "glaring" divide between protesters and non-protesters along socio-economic lines. 

"The ones who can’t afford the fees are the ones protesting," he said. 

"We reiterate that this should be done in a non-violent way so that attention can be paid to the real issue at hand instead of being diverted to the damage caused."

Read more on:    uct  |  wits university  |  cape town  |  johannesburg  |  port elizabeth  |  protests  |  education  |  university fees

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