06 October 2016
Naeemah Dudan is a 2nd year Bachelor of Arts student at Wits University. She writes for Salaamedia. This is what she experienced today.
While lectures on the Main and Education campuses of Wits have been shut down, several lectures at the Medical campus were still ongoing today. #FeesMustFall protesters met to occupy the Med campus and disrupt any continuing lectures. They thereafter marched to main campus where a mass meeting was held regarding the statements that would be made tomorrow at the General Assembly.
Before the meeting opened students, workers, women and activists gathered and recited words of poetry, writing and encouragement in Solomon Mahlangu House, the main square our movement’s discussions. “We are prisoners to this education” cried a young man in partial victory standing in the centre of ring of students. “There shall be beauty when fees fall”.
There was however a slight disagreement within the mass meeting. Yesterday, the students who attended the meeting called for one demand and that is the demand for free, decolonised quality education.
Students who were not present yesterday stated that they disagreed with only one demand as there were other internal university issues that needed to be addressed by Vice Chancellor, Adam Habib. The populous of students was split.
One of the internal demands that came up was that students who were expelled, suspended and arrested without reasonable cause needed to be released immediately. One student stated that if Habib was to comply with the internal demands he would not focus on the main demand.
In her presentation, student leader Shaeera Kalla stated that Habib was a spokesperson for Blade Nzimande, the SA Minister of Higher Education and that he would listen to us.
Another vociferous student leader, Vuyani Pambo, also stated that tomorrow is not a matter of negotiations but a matter of putting forward what we want. He made it clear that Habib must move forward with the revolution and support the call for free education so that we can take our struggle to the streets and the government.
I noticed that there were no #takebackwits students who attended the meeting, so I contact with their leader, Stuart Young, to answer some questions.
I asked him why he and his followers were not present today at the mass meeting. He replied that they felt it was not safe especially since they felt harassed at their silent protest yesterday.
He said that they wanted the short term goals of free education to be changed into long term goals and that with the current economic situation it would be a long time before free education will be achieved. He also commended the fees must fall movement for bringing the university to talks.
The General Assembly to be held tomorrow will be the 11th one in the history of the university. The last assembly was held 11 years ago in order to appreciate those alumni who boycotted their graduation ceremonies in protest against the apartheid regime.
The General Assembly will take place tomorrow from 11am to 12.30pm and students, workers, parents and members of society have been invited to attend.
I will be there.