The South African Union of Students (SAUS) and university student representative council leaders are shutting down universities from today, Monday 15 March.

The student union said it rejected Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s decision – announced in his annual budget speech – to cut budgets and reduce university subsidies for higher education.

The council took to Facebook confirming the shutdown, along with the caption “NO RETREAT! NO SURRENDER!”

The decision to follow through with the ongoing protest follows a disagreement with the Department of Higher Education over demands to scrap historic debt and deliver on a promise of free tertiary education, reports IOL.

Again, SAUS took to Facebook:
“UNITE OR PERISH!!! SAUS calls for the UNITY of ALL student leaders and student political organisations across campuses. This is a fight for students, united we are undefeated! #FeesMustFall2021 #FreeEducationNow!” 

Universities are facing a funding shortfall of more than R6 billion. The estimated historic student debt bill is estimated to be R14 billion, continued IOL.

In response, SAUS took to social media again:

“The meeting resolved to call for a national shutdown of all the 26 universities from Monday the 15th of March 2021. All 26 University SRCs have supported this decision unanimously. The shutdown will continue until our demands are met.”

Police brutality was also said to have been discussed. This follows violent confrontations between police and students last week which claimed the life of a bystander outside the Wits campus in Johannesburg, reports IOL.

Also rejected is the response of the Ministry of Higher Education to its list of demands.

“We see these responses as a ’check box’ exercise, unsatisfactory and with no tangible solutions to address the 15 demands submitted. This is also testament to the lack of urgency and commitment by the Ministry to amicably resolve these issues without exposing students to brutal protests.”

An “end to the victimisation of students in institutions of higher learning was also called for, continues IOL.

“We call upon universities and the ministry of higher education to ensure that all arrested students and suspended students are exonerated.”

“Private security utilises extreme and unnecessary force against students. They also create a militarised and high tension environment that further contributes to the problem. We therefore call on USAF to issue a directive to universities to immediately remove private security from our campuses as they remain a space of critical inquiry and engagement,“ said SAUS.

It also demanded that “NSFAS take the issues of students seriously and with urgency. SAUS continues to push for the funding decisions of all students to be communicated; appeals to be addressed; and allowances to be distributed timelessly.”

Finally, SAUS says it wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to “ensure that defunding of universities and higher education budget cuts are reversed and free education is realised not in our lifetime,” concluded IOL.

See the full list of demands here:

**SAUS calls for National Shutdown with effect from Monday 15 March 2021**

The South African Union of Students (SAUS)…

Posted by South African Union of Students on Sunday, March 14, 2021

Read also: Approval to scrap historic student debt

Image: Unsplash

Article written by