SA students close down two campuses, more to join, protesting fee increase

By Xola Potelwa

(Bloomberg) – A South African student organization said it may shut down campuses across the country in protest against planned fee increases for 2017.

University of KwaZulu-Natal.
University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Two institutions – Mangosuthu University of Technology and a campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal – have already closed as a result of protests, and more could follow, said Sthembiso Ndlovu, secretary-general of the South African Union of Students. Students staged the biggest protests in post-apartheid South Africa last year, forcing President Jacob Zuma to scrap plans to raise tuition costs for 2016 after marches to the front lawn of his offices in the capital, Pretoria.

The Council for Higher Education has recommended a 6.3 percent fee hike for next year, while students are demanding tuition costs stay unchanged for a second year. Student meetings this week will decide on further protest action at universities, Ndlovu said.

Read also: Students want answers from Zuma. Jet, Nkandla but no Fees.

“There are two that are currently closed and we anticipate the implementation of a total shutdown,” Ndlovu said. “Our demand is a no-fee increment. We anticipate more closures of more institutions during the course of the week.”

The ruling African National Congress expressed support for a no-increase policy after a meeting of its executive body at the weekend, called to discuss the party’s worst-ever election performance in municipal polls earlier this month.

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