THE YOUTH AGE OF SOCIAL UNREST
*Caption: KwaZulu-Natal #fessmustfall march at the Durban City Hall
Written by: Sihle Makhowana
Recent years are seeing the South African youth exercsing their right to protest. This year was no exception. Again we saw the youth take to the streets, campaigning under the slogan of #FEESMUSTFALL to show their dissatisfaction with the government and request for free tertiary education.
The campaign shook the whole country and ultimately resurrecting some of the scenes of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.
As you enter the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus, you’re welcomed by a huge presence of police and a vigilant eye on private security. As you start getting closer seeing gun canisters scattered, police personnel in full body armour ready to honour their oaths, during all this you realise that this is no war and the country is not under attack in fact you in a place deemed to be the safest, housing the country’s most valuable assets.
After this observation one can easily conclude that this is not a fight, in fact these are students most of them from poor backgrounds, united for one course which is the call for free tertiary education and if successful it will better the lives of all poor citizens looking to have their big break by going to University.
Violence has since sparked at universities countrywide following the 8% increment proposal made by the higher education minister, Dr Blade Nzimande on the 19th of September.
“Government is aware of these challenges and takes them very seriously. Indeed, the government remains firmly committed to progressively realise free post-school education for the poor and working class, as called for by our Constitution, and to assist middle-class families who are unable to pay,” said Nzimande.
“We have looked at the challenges at hand from all sides and have concluded that the best approach would be to allow universities individually to determine the level of increase that their institutions will require to ensure that they continue to operate effectively and at least maintain existing quality – with the caution that this has to also take into account affordability to students, and therefore has to be transparent, reasonable and related to inflation-linked adjustments. Our recommendation is that fee adjustments should not go above 8%,” added Nzimande.
Since October 2015, students from various universities in South Africa got together under a course which was to stop the increase of university fees. This was a campaign which shook the country and even received support from 1st world countries some of already offer free education to its citizens and foreign students.
The South African political presence is facing undoubtedly it most complex time, the government is fighting its own and the voice of the majority is active and ready to govern from the ground. One of the words most associated with democracy is ‘majority’ which in other simpler terms means the people shall govern. But for a person observing the current situation in South African politics might put a new definition to the democracy exercised in the Republic.
Chiropractic student at the Durban University of Technology, Mandisa Sishi shared her sentiments.
“Our government is run by greedy individuals who only care about themselves and their own statuses. Politics shouldn’t be seen as a career,” said Sishi.
“People at the top use those at the bottom so the top will be better. The government won’t agree to feesmustfall because they deem the movement as a loss to them. That’s why they keep saying “no we’ll add a couple of billions for the poor and the missing middle” its like pocket change to them. But because of greed they keep sucking off the poor which is very sad,” added Sishi.
The unity and solidarity portrayed by students throughout their call for free tertiary education, will indeed shape the future of this country.