The African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Ace Magashule has pledged solidarity with the Wits University students, as they fight to have the institution allow their indebted counterparts to register for the new academic year.
The students’ demonstrations entered its sixth day on Thursday, 11 March 2021. This time they marched to the ANC’s Luthuli Headquarters where they handed over a memorandum of demands.
“Your struggle is our struggle. Before you are students, you are part of those communities which have nothing. You come from the poor backgrounds, you come from the working class and that is why the ANC resolved a long time ago in 1955, Nasrec, in our election manifesto 1994, in our election manifesto in 2019, that’s why you voted (for) some of our parties,” Magashule said.
The streets of Braamfontein were the scenes of mayhem on Wednesday as police faced off with protesting students. Law enforcement can be seen using teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the students.
Wits students warned against division
The situation at Wits University descended further into chaos after a 35 year-old man was shot dead, allegedly by a member of the South African Police Service (SAPS). There were also mounting calls between rival student leaders for unity, all for the sake of the movement.
Ace Magashule has reiterated the call, adding that this would help the students to achieve their ultimate goal.
“When you are students you must all work together irrespective of political parties because your demands are the same. When you are a leader of students in the SRC, you represent the entire student body. You don’t represent your own organisation there and that’s how you will actually win this battle,” Magashule said.
This in stark contrast to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema who condemned fellow student protestors from his party for marching alongside members of the ANC.
For many, this is a stark reminder of the 2016 Fees Must Fall protests which rocked most tertiary institutions across the country. The unrest at Wits certainly stood out at the time, due to the extent of violence which broke out between police officers and protesting students.