Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana on Thursday graciously donned a protest T-shirt offered to him by a group of protesters outside Parliament, sporting the slogans #EndOutsourcing #feesmustfall.
The group – made up of students and workers from various universities – were waiting to hand over a memorandum calling for an end to outsourcing at tertiary institutions, and an explanation for “excessive force used by police” during nationwide student protests last week.
The students scored a major victory, with President Jacob Zuma announcing last week Friday that there will be no fee increases next year.
“I want to thank you for this struggle… We have said this is a noble struggle,” Manana told the crowd. “Thank you for reminding your government.”
“But why did you shoot at us [referring to the police actions]?” some of the students wanted to know.
Holding out an olive branch, Manana apologised to students for feeling there was deliberate delay “and an actual feeling that we have actually shelved the [free tuition feasibility] report.
“The report says free education is feasible, but we need to work with the private sector to find money. The national fiscus on its own can’t do it.”
He assured the group that they will definitely investigate claims of police brutality.
After the students handed Manana the T-shirt, they shouted to him to “give it to [Higher Education Minister] Blade [Nzimande]”.
They then gave Manana till Monday to respond to their demands. “On Monday we will be back,” the crowd of about 700 warned before beginning to disperse peacefully. News24