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UCT students give govt a week to respond to demands

The relentless fight for free education & a range of other demands continued outside Parliament.

UCT protesters march down Spin Street in Cape Town on their way to Parliament. Picture: Anthony Molyneaux/EWN

CAPE TOWN - CAPE TOWN - The relentless fight for free education and a range of other demands continued outside the locked gates of Parliament yesterday.

Dozens of student protesters marched to Parliament on Monday and gave government a week in which to fully respond to their demands.

They were expecting to be addressed by Deputy Higher Education Minister, Mduduzi Manana.

But Manana was a no-show despite assuring protesters last week he would respond to some of their demands by Monday.

He promised to have answers to some of the students' grievances, which include a complete ban on outsourcing and more affordable tertiary education.

UCT student leader Masixole Mlandu claims parliamentary officials have promised the higher education Ministers and the President will address them on Monday...

"We've been speaking and we've been saying we want to engage. If they don't show up, what does it say about the people we've elected in power? The masses will decide [the way forward]."

The Presidency and Higher Education Ministry have however not confirmed the apparent commitment to meet the students at Parliament on Monday.

The disgruntled UCT students say they're not discouraged by Manana's no show.

On Friday, the President announced a freeze on fees at universities for next year, but the students are adamant that is not the only issue on a long list of demands.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) says the estimated R2,7 billion needed for universities can be found by re-prioritising expenditure within government's existing budget.

Government has yet to publicly reveal how the gap will be filled.

But the DA's Belinda Bozzoli said the official opposition has some ideas.

"We have put forward several sources of funding, which we think are present in the existing budget; which are superfluous, frivolous and unnecessary."

She said for starters, money allocated to foreign missions could be put to better use.

"This funding is for recompensing the Department of International Relations for losses caused by the currency decline."