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South African student leaders to continue protests

By on October 7, 2016

Student leaders in South Africa have pledged to continue protests against tuition fees.

Universities suspended classes this week after demonstrations turned violent, with police firing stun grenades, rubber bullets and teargas at stone-throwing students.

The protests came after Jacob Zuma’s government said it could not afford free education for all, though it would continue providing assistance university costs for the poorest students.

An extraordinary general assembly at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg called in the hope of reaching agreement, was cancelled on Friday because “no consensus” existed, as well as for security reasons.

Leaders of the student protesters said on Friday they had hoped to convince the university authorities to back their campaign to force the government to increase subsidies to further education, and had no choice but to continue the campaign. “We wanted to get the university to join us. But if we stop now it means we go back to classes having won nothing,” said Thalo Mokoena, of the Student Representative Council.

Last year a campaign to force the government to bring down the cost of university education led to a freeze in the level of fees. This year the ministry of education has said individual universities could impose a rise of up to 8%, slightly more than the rate of annual inflation in South Africa.

Universities have become the focus of anger about broader inequalities that endure in South Africa more than two decades after the end of apartheid. South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world, with new research showing 10% of the population owning at least 90–95% of all assets.

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