UCT, CPUT students to descend on Parliament over Fees Commission report

UCT SRC president Seipati Tshabalala. (James de Villiers, News24)
UCT SRC president Seipati Tshabalala. (James de Villiers, News24)

Cape Town - University of Cape Town (UCT) and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) students are set to march to Parliament on Wednesday to demand that President Jacob Zuma release the Fees Commission report.

This comes as Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivers his medium-term budget statement to the legislature.

- Mini Budget site 

Zuma received the Fees Commission report in August and has been "studying the report" ever since.

Students are expected to assemble at the CPUT Cape Town campus at 11:00 before marching to Parliament, about 1km away.

READ: UCT lectures disrupted, students consider march on Parliament

Western Cape police told News24 that they were ready to "maintain law and order" during the unapproved protest action.

"Adequate numbers of resources have been deployed to police any occurrence which may arise," Western Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said on Wednesday morning.

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

Cosatu picket

City of Cape Town safety and security director Richard Bosman said additional metro police personnel had also been deployed to the march.

He expected that students would join a city-approved picket by trade union federation Cosatu outside Parliament.

Cosatu has planned for 1 000 to attend the picket, but Bosman said the rain might deter most people from attending.

Rain has been forecast for the Cape Town CBD during the course of Wednesday morning.  

On Tuesday, the UCT student representative council (SRC) alleged that the university had proposed an 8% - 10% fee increase. The SRC said it would not allow that to happen.

UCT has since then said no announcement on fees would be made until the release of the Fees Commission report.

'Free education for all'

#RhodesMustFall activist and student leader Masixole Mlandu said students should not lose focus of the goal of free higher education.

Speaking at a packed student gathering at the university's Jameson Hall on Tuesday afternoon, Mlandu said: "If the university wants to increase fees - it must fall.

"We should not become disillusioned by notions of 'free education for the poor'. We must be consistent, comrades. We want free education [for all], period," Mlandu said to roaring applause from the crowd.

On Wednesday morning, UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said social media reports that the university agreed to shut down the university in support of the march to Parliament were inaccurate.

He said all classes, tests and academic work would continue as normal.

"The UCT executive is supportive of the call for President Jacob Zuma to release the Fees Commission report and we are working with student leaders in our efforts to meet their demands, where this is possible," Moholola told News24.

"We [however] urge that UCT classes and operations continue undisturbed."

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