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SASCO NMU threatens to stop ANC support if free education isn't realised in 2018

By Afikile Lugunya - Nov 16, 2017
SASCO NMU threatens to stop ANC support if free education isn't realised in 2018

Reacting to the release of the Report of the Commission into the Feasibility of Fee-Free Higher Education and Training in South Africa on Monday by President Jacob Zuma, the South African Students Congress (SASCO) at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) threatened to stop supporting the African National Congress (ANC) if free higher education is not implemented in 2018.

Zuma established the Commission in January 2016, chaired by Honourable Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher, assisted by Adv Gregory Ally and Ms Leah Thabisile Khumalo, following the 2015 Fees Must Fall student protests that brought many university campuses to halt. The students demanded access to free, decolonised and quality education.. 

FeesMustFall violence was again witnessed in 2016 leading many universities to shut down the academic year early.

The Commission Report was released to the public via The Presidency website and media platforms

Among its recommendations, the Commission said that government must increase its expenditure on higher education and training to at least 1 percent of the GDP, but does not explicitly recommend free higher education.

Speaking to RNEWS, NMU Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Bamanye Matiwane, who is a Regional Chairperson of SASCO, said that the Fees Commission Report that was released by the President failed to address the students' damands for free education.

"When they read the report, they wanted a clear line that would say that next year, the governing government will pay for free quality education, but the released report didn’t provide that," he said.

“Over the years, we have been fighting for free quality education, not contingencies - so we reject that contingency thing of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding - in fact we have long rejected that.

“We don’t want NSFAS that went to a private school, we are clear on that. In 2018, there must be free quality decolonised education.”

Matiwane said that President Zuma must announce a way forward to realising free higher education.

“We are waiting for President Jacob Zuma to give us a clear way forward, not a report that was not even written by him," he said emphasising that students are angry.

“Students are very annoyed and they are angry. This is a generational mission and we are going to call every stakeholder and rally behind the call of free quality education. That call cannot be compromised.

“In December, we are going towards a national conference of the SASCO and we will rally all students behind one voice; under the leadership that we trust Avela Mjajubane. The year of free education must start now - in 2018; we not going to backdown anymore - the year of free quality education must start now.

“Students must enjoy themselves and have a long happy holiday because they are not coming back next year if there is no free education.”

Since its founding as a student organisation in September 1991 at Rhodes University, in Grahamstown, SASCO has always been aligned with the ANC, but Matiwane said that things could change.

“We cannot be led by a political party that doesn’t consider the needs of students," he said.

"So, by 2018 if our call for free quality education still falls on deaf ears, we will pull out of the ANC as SASCO NMU.”