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Wits calls off General Assembly after ‘mediation process with students’ fails

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Friday’s General Assembly at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has been postponed as the “mediation process with the protesting students was unsuccessful”.

The university said it was announcing the postponement “with deep regret” and said a “Council meeting will be called this weekend after which a way forward for the University will be determined”.

“We had reached consensus with all university constituencies including Council‚ Senate‚ Convocation‚ labour and staff‚ but not with the protesting students‚” it said in a statement.

“This week‚ we suspended the academic programme and dedicated all our resources towards building a consensus within the university community in order to be able to resume the academic programme on Monday.”

One of the sticking points‚ Wits said‚ was that “one of the latest demands of the protesting students is that Wits and all other universities should be shut down until government agrees to free education”.

 

The Student Representative Council (SRC) late on Thursday night demanded that Wits show its “support” for #FeesMustFall by officially shutting down until government “makes a commitment to legislate free decolonised education for all now”.

It also said it wants Wits to “use its position as chair of Universities South Africa to call on all VCs to commit similarly on all campuses” to support #FeesMustFall.


The SRC demanded that should the “government “fail to deliver” free education‚ Wits “will file a class action against the (government) in the Constitutional Court”.

Wits said there had also been “no agreement from the protesting students that the academic programme will continue on Monday”.

“The protesting students effectively want the General Assembly and the march to the Constitutional Court to continue‚ without committing that the academic programme will commence on Monday‚ as previously promised.

There was also no concord “from the protesting students on the format of the General Assembly”.

“They are seeking direct engagement from the floor. Our concern in this regard is that it may create unnecessary tension between students themselves and other stakeholders‚ raising security risks and serving as a symbol of disunity for the university‚” Wits said.

“There is also a risk that the safety and security of those attending the General Assembly today cannot be guaranteed.”

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