While Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande hailed his meeting with SRC leaders as a success, cracks began to emerge after student leaders from various universities walked out of the meeting earlier in the day.
Speaking alongside a handful of students who had not left the meeting, Nzimande said he was confident that a resolution would be found and things would return to normal at universities.
“We are confident that many of these issues will be able to find one another,” he said, adding that the aim was to stabilise institutions.
Addressing the media after their meeting, Nzimande said students had tabled their eight demands and they had resolved to establish a tripartite structure which would address the demands.
The tripartite structure would comprise students, vice chancellors and officials from the department of education.
The resolution to form the tripartite structure was however formed after more than half of the students had already walked out.
The walkout came after the students claimed their demands were not being met.
Wits SRC president Nompendulo Mkhatshwa said they felt there was no progress during the meeting. The meeting was a follow-up of a December meeting which was, in turn, a follow-up of another meeting held in October, she said.
“Our sentiment right now is that we were not engaged. We threw our demands, but we were not engaged. We wish there had been more thorough commitments [from the] side of the department,” she said.
Another student leader from the University of Fort Hare agreed.
She added that they had been flown from one area to another, but they were returning to their respective universities empty-handed and without any resolutions in place.
Meanwhile, some of those who had stayed in the meeting expressed their disappointment.
“The majority of them [those who walked out] come from elite universities. We came from universities that are very far, with intentions to resolve issues,” said Mashudu Nthulane of the University of Venda.
She said they would extend an olive branch to those who walked out so that they could all find a solution to the issues raised. News24