Durban – As the country fears renewed violent #FeesMustFall protests, the ANC Youth League in eThekwini region was hard at work during the festive season raising funds for poor students.
Regional secretary Thinta Cibane said on Tuesday the league had managed to raise R1 million at a business breakfast in Durban.
Cibane said the league was raising funds to try to avert possible violent strikes at universities.
Durban has three universities, UKZN, Durban University of Technology and Mangosuthu University of Technology.
DUT students said they received SMSes during the holidays informing them that tuition and residence fees would each be raised by 8%.
“The R1 million is already there. We raised it during a business breakfast at uShaka Marine World on December 21,” said Cibane.
He said a large part of the money would be spent registering students at the universities.
“Through analysis we have established that strikes at the beginning of the year happen because students could not register.”
Cibane said the league would engage Durban businesses, especially those listed on the JSE, to support poor students. He said several had been approached to assist with registration fees and later with bursaries and scholarships.
He said if targeted businesses failed to comply, “we will mobilise young people to stop production”.
He said the league was concerned by UKZN and DUT’s proposal of raising fees by 8%.
“We do believe that #FeesMustFall is being used by opposition parties, in particular the EFF, to try to gain ground.
“The free education is a genuine call, but these parties want to abuse it to try to score cheap political points,” he said.
Cibane said in order to avert the destruction of university property, the league would lead the strikes and free education campaigns because it was opposed to a blanket free education call, which would lead to children of rich people also benefiting.
“We believe in free education for the poor because it does not make sense that Johann Rupert’s child would benefit from free education for all. We don’t agree with the direction of the #feesmustfall.”
He said many businesses in the city paid for social responsibility programmes, but the league could not establish how that money was spent.
“We need to be able to keep stock. We don’t want to only hear that there are 50 bursaries but they could not be accounted for. We want to know where those bursaries have gone,” he said.
Considering the wealth generated by city businesses, eThekwini should be closer to providing for free education, said Cibane.
“We are willing to be confrontational; even if it means factories must be closed down to get the attention of the business owners.
“We will march along with the students.”
EFF student command chairman at DUT, Gazuzu Nduli said the student action would continue when the institution opened.
“We have no intention to destroy property as our only intention is to shut down operations, but anything can happen when police and security guards provoke us.”