Students must take step back or risk political divisions - analysts

2015-10-26 13:34
Protesting UCT students make their voices heard while they block a road in Cape Town. Picture: Nasief Maine

Protesting UCT students make their voices heard while they block a road in Cape Town. Picture: Nasief Maine

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Cape Town – Students should take the win and spend time regrouping instead of continuing with their protests this week, political analysts said on Monday.

They said that continuing with protests would divide the student bodies as various structures pursued their own political agendas.

Students across the country have been protesting for university fees to fall for over a week, and on Friday were victorious when President Jacob Zuma announced a 0% increase for next year.

But the students want more, and this week continued their protests for free education.

Eastern Cape political analyst Dr Joleen Steyn-Kotze said students now had to take a step back and decide what was achievable in their demands.

"In terms of building up momentum following their win last week, we cannot have a situation where the country is brought to a standstill if their demands cannot be achieved. There is going to be a need for self-reflection, on what they want in the long run and how they can achieve it."

She emphasised that students had to focus on their goals and not allow political agendas to influence them.

So far, the students had been adamant that they would not allow any political parties to hijack their movement. Last week, they booed and chased away Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, who had wanted to address them at the University of Cape Town.

They also threatened to chase away Economic Freedom Fighters chief whip Floyd Shivambu outside Parliament on Wednesday as he was addressing media.

On Friday, Western Cape premier Helen Zille also joined the student protest at Stellenbosch University, but was asked to leave by students after a while.

This, according to political analyst Daniel Silke, was so the students could drive their message with a unified voice, independent of their party affiliations.

"They did not want political parties to potentially disruptive to the aims of the demonstrations. They felt none of the political parties have properly addressed their grievances over the years."

Silke said the students had achieved what they wanted last week, and if they now broadened the scope of their protest, they would lose their strength.

"The danger is the students have tasted blood and they will want more. But to take this further at this stage will weaken the broader movement and cause political divisions to emerge."

Various universities remained closed on Monday as students protested for free education and for universities to stop outsourcing workers.

Read more on:    uct  |  wits university  |  stellenbosch university  |  university fees

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