South African Students Congress

We will take the fight for free education to parliament

3 March 2010

Since the ANC's historic Polokwane conference, we have seen a rapid implementation of its resolutions such as the scrapping of floor crossing and the disbandment of Scorpions. All these resolutions were hastily implemented without let or hindrance. But scant regard has been paid to the decision taken in Polokwane to introduce free higher education to the first undergraduate degree.

Hundreds of thousands of students have, this year alone, been refused entry to institutions of higher learning either because they owe fees to these institutions or were unable to pay ridiculous registration fees demanded by these institutions. These numbers do not include the thousands that were financially excluded and could not afford their fees the past year and others. This alone, is a downward spiral for our society and is an egg in the face of the poor black working class majority.

The little attention paid to education by the President's State of the Nation address prepared us that government is not willing to listen. The implementation of neo-liberal economic policies by Minister Pravin Gordhan such as inflation targeting and tax breaks for companies, on who we have called for corporate tax increase in order to fund education, was another nail in the coffin for students from poor backgrounds who hoped to that this budget speech would at last be pro-poor. The exorbitant tariff increases granted to Eskom by Nersa that will result in fee increases was the last straw.

We will not sit on our laurels and hope the Holy Spirit will save us from neo-liberal economic policies and also bring free education. We will take the fight for free education right to the doors of the state and all its spheres; parliament, government and even the judiciary if we have to. It is within this context that we have decided to engage in protest action demanding free education on the 5th of March this Friday in Cape Town. Some of our provinces such as Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal will all lead provincial Marches. The rest of the other provinces will protest in their campuses on Friday with the exception of the national protest in Cape Town. The March will begin at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Cape Town Campus at 9am and proceed to Parliament by 12midday. Our President comrade Mbulelo Mandlana will lead our protest to Parliament.

We intend to hand over our memorandum of demand for free education to the Speaker of Parliament whose office has already refused to accept our memorandum and has rather referred us to the Department of Higher Education. This is nonsensical. We knew the reason why we wanted the Speaker of Parliament and not the Minister of Higher Education. Whether or not the Speaker of Parliament will receive our memorandum we will still continue with our protest and we will hand it to whomsoever cares. When we decided to take our protest to parliament, it is because we know that it is parliament that makes laws in our country and not Cabinet.

As part of our free education protest, on Thursday, our structures will ensure that, through campus protests, they close down the University of Venda, University of Limpopo, Tswane University of Technology, University of Johannesburg, Durban University of Technology, University of Zululand, Walter Sisulu University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of Western Cape, demanding free education. We also know that there is an expected NSFAS Review report and we expect that it should direct us towards free education and if it does not, we will march to the Minister of higher Education on a date to be announced and agreed with the Ministry of Higher Education. Our demand for free higher education is not adversarial but we will not romanticize a government that disregards the plight of the poor.

For details Contact

Mbulelo Mandlana (President)
071 879 3408
Lazola Ndamase (Secretary General)
082 679 8718