Cosatu has now thrown their manskappe behind the #FeesMustFall movement, and their first plan of action will be to put pressure on big business to help subsidise university fees.
While President Jacob Zuma pledged his “full support and that of the cabinet” to embattled Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, the powerful trade union federation confirmed it had officially joined forces with the students, reports the Weekend Argus.
One of the first targets would be the Chamber of Mines, with a mass demonstration planned for October 14.
The chamber represents some of the biggest gold producers, including Goldfields, Harmony Gold and Anglogold Ashanti.
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said on the sidelines of the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union’s 13th congress in Cape Town on Saturday that Cosatu had “resolved to support the students”.
Dlamini urged “the rich and private capital” to support institutions of higher learning.
“They should pay for the education of their children, they should even do more to support the institutions of higher learning so that the child that comes from a poor family will also be able to access quality education.”
He did, however, condemn the acts of violence at universities last week, which led to the closure of campuses.
“We sometimes feel there’s an element of infiltration because there is no student that can consciously burn a library, which is the wealth that he or she needs for their education and their children’s future.”
Nzimande’s announcement last week that fees should increase next year by a maximum of 8 percent – but only for those who can afford it – was met by more riots, with many including University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and the University of Cape Town (UCT) suspending classes for this week.
The Democratic Alliance yesterday urged university management, the higher education and training department, and the police to work together to ensure that students and staff are safe so that campuses can re-open this week.
“According to a note sent out from Wits, their decision to remain closed this week is based on real threats to the safety of students and staff. Indeed, evidence of petrol bombs have been discovered on campus, revealing a condemnable intent by some students to destroy university property,” DA spokeswoman Belinda Bozzoli said.