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University protests: SA told to ‘expect a national shutdown’ on Monday 15 March

University protests: SA told to ‘expect a national shutdown’ on Monday 15 March

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has issued a memorandum of demands for Blade Nzimande, giving him a deadline of 17:00 on Friday to respond. As tempers flare at university campuses across the country – fuelled by the chaotic events seen during the Wits protests – lobby groups are now threatening to orchestrate a ‘national shutdown’.


The Higher Education Minister is facing an ultimatum: Agree to the demands listed by SAUS, or mass demonstrations will continue from Monday 15 March. Students are being told to ‘shutdown’ their universities if the government fails to fix its broken funding system for tertiary education. As the clock ticks away, this is what the union is asking for:

  • Clear historical debt for all students
  • Secure justice for the family of the man who was shot dead by police during protests on Wednesday
  • Provide post-graduate funding immediately
  • Unblock registration for all first-year students, while the government is still resolving the funding matters.
  • Provide all students with laptops the academic year starts.
  • Allocate all student finances before the end of March
  • Increase student enrolment quotas to allow admission for matriculates.
  • Make registration for all students free during the 2021 academic year.
  • Impose A 0% fee increase for the 2021 academic year.
  • Ensure free quality education is delivered for the poor and the missing middle.
  • Suspend academic exclusion for 2021 due to COVID-19.
  • Announce 100% of students allowed to return to campus for learning purposes
  • Extend the registration period to 30th April 2021
  • Open NSFAS appeals to be opened and finalise them within the next two weeks.


In a statement issued earlier in the day, SAUS claimed the government is responsible for ‘systemic racism’. Although details haven’t been given about how a national shutdown would work across our universities, it’s understood the usual methods of protest – utilising mass gatherings and occupying public spaces – will be employed.

“Our government is systemically racist. They are inhumanely and unreasonably aggressive to the extent that they find pleasure in violating the rights of ordinary South Africans, including the right to life.”

“Should Minister Blade Ndzimande fail to respond positively to the list of demands, SRCs have given SAUS a clear mandate to engage with SAVETSA (Union representing TVET colleges) and all student political formations in preparation for rolling mass actions and a National Shutdown of all higher education institutions from Monday 15 March.”




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