• University management calls for students to enter negotiations
  • Students demand free education, end to staff outsourcing

South African university students continued to protest for free education after President Jacob Zuma announced fee increases will be frozen for the 2016 academic year on Friday.

“The strike continues,” Motheo Brodie, deputy president of the Student Representative Council at the Johannesburg-based University of the Witwatersrand, said by phone on Monday. “The main demands are for free education and the issue of outsourcing of staff management.”

Students at the university will hold talks with management at a council meeting on Monday to press demands for free education, as well as for an end to the outsourced employment of staff members. The protests, which began almost two weeks ago, have spread across the country, leading to clashes between riot police and students.

“We are perfectly comfortable with ensuring all demands are met; the 0 percent increase has already been agreed to,” Adam Habib, Wits University’s vice chancellor, said in an interview on SAfm radio. “The one big challenge is outsourcing and we have to do the analysis.”

Police fired stun grenades to disperse students at the University of the North West on Monday, SAfm reported. The University of Johannesburg will suspend academic activities until Tuesday, it said in an e-mailed statement. The South Africa Students’ Congress is “very committed” to the to the resumption of the academic program, the group said by e-mail.

A presidential team will look into transformation issues including free education and institutional autonomy, Zuma said after meeting with student leaders and university management on Friday. University management also agreed to extend the examination period to compensate for time lost during the protest.

“We do need this to come to an end,” Habib said. “I am worried that many of our young men and women’s academic program will be irreparably damaged.”

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