Opposing groups protest at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

#OpenNMMU versus #FeesMustFall

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Photo of students and parents
Parents and students demonstrated today outside Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University demanding it be re-opened. Photo: Joseph Chirume

Two groups of protesters faced off today at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University over whether or not the university should re-open.

About 30 students from the #FeesMustFall movement were singing and dancing at the main entrance to the university while a few metres away was a group of about 80 people from #OpenNMMU, including students and parents of students.

The students from FeesMustFall refused to talk to the media.

Addressing the gathering, the leader of #OpenNMMU, student Matthew Mackay said “We are concerned about finishing our qualifications. Our rights to education have been infringed upon and we want the university opened.”

“Everybody who is here supports the idea of not increasing fees. Everybody here wants fees to be cheap and affordable but not to close universities. Nobody will graduate this year. Everybody will have to go back to the same classes next year, and with matric pupils entering tertiary education, classes will be full and this will have a detrimental effect on the quality of education and society as a whole,” said Mackay.

Another protester, Ishaan Jassat, said it would be very difficult to repay the loans students had borrowed if they were made to repeat next year.

“I am in my third year this year. If I repeat it, I will not be able to repay my loan.Yes, we want fees to fall. At the same time we also want the university to open.”

The parent of a science student, Andrew Jonas, said he was frustrated that his son was at home doing nothing when his fees had been paid for the whole year.

“I came here not to fight NMMU. The government should shoulder the blame of all this.They should open the university and let our children get their education. They promised free education, so provide it.”

Nathi Dwayi of #FeesMustFall referred GroundUp to another student, Thando Nkala, who said he did not want to talk to the media.

The university said yesterday that “engagements” with students were continuing and the university was committed to completing the academic progamme for 2016.

All campuses of Walter Sisulu University were open as usual, while at the University of Fort Hare, where students have been boycotting classes for weeks, students said they would challenge a court ruling ordering them to quit their residences in Alice.

The Bhisho High Court ruled this week that the students should leave the residences immediately and that the university should provide alternative accomodation for those who needed it.

SRC leader Thandikhaya Mthokazi said the students had been told to move to East London and to pay an indemnity fee, which they refused to do.

TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

The years of apartheid has nurtured an attitude of white supremacy. As long as we the privileged few are ok, never mind the oppressed majority. Ethics and the consideration of justice has not entered these racists minds. They thus use legitimate causes to fight their battles under the guise of fighting for their rights. They use it as a way to denigrate the poorest of the poor who see education as a way to liberate themselves economically. Let us be honest: there can be no political freedom if there is no economic freedom. So let these racists consider their wealth and privilege built on the backs of the cheap labour of apartheid that has not fallen out of the sky, and who claiming it was because of their hard work. Maybe hard work built on the backs of cheap labour. It does not want to enter into the racists' minds that white privilege could not but have been built on the backs of first free slave labour and then cheap labour after the emancipation of slaves.

Dear Editor

Why are students being bullied and not being allowed to return? We can't afford to lose bursaries our children got through hard work! Why are they being punished! Stop flogging the dead horse called apartheid! There's NSFAS if your results are good! And look at my surname. It's not a privileged white surname! Political ranting is so yesterday! Look at the plight of the disabled. They always happy and loving etc. I should know!

Dear Editor

I don't see why the fees must fall movement shut down university without having a plan B.
I agree like many of the individuals at the #OpenNMMU university that fees must fall, but is shutting down university really the right way to go about fighting for the 'poor'? I am poor and the shut down has affected me more than the rich, white privileged.
Fees must fall movement was not fighting for me, the poor man. They were fighting for themselves, their loans, their causes.
Today, I sit in a lab because I do not have internet access at home and had to borrow money to get to campus as there are no shuttles. Today, my younger sister lost her opportunity to obtain a bursary due to the university being shut down. Today, I sit without the job I was promised because I will not graduate in time.
Fees must fall did nothing for me, the poor man.
We must fight for free education, but the fight must be taken to where it matters.
I will not destroy another pupil's dream because I cannot repay my loan. The poor will always suffer the burden of any radical movement.

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