THE #IAmConstitution debate brought forth issues students have with South Africa’s Constitution on Tuesday night.
In response to one of the topics of debate, the notion of free higher education, Wits SRC President, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, said that students who are fighting for free education, need to remember that our constitution does not grant us the right to free higher education.
If by June… if the outcome is not favourable to the one that we want, ziyasha [it’s going down],” she said.
In regards to call for #FeesMustFall and free higher education for students, Mkhatshwa said the students would take action if government did not make higher education more accessible.
“If by June… if the outcome is not favourable to the one that we want, ziyasha [it’s going down],” she said.
The other topics of debate were the intersectional struggles of students and the accountability of the Chapter 9 institutions.
The debate panelists included Mkhatshwa, SA Human Rights Commission legal consultant Tshidiso Ramogale, and Student Law and Social Justice Gender campaign head Cherise Walker.
Ramogale asked the audience on whether students “have tried to engage with the particular organ of state to get what you want?” Ramogale placed emphasis on a Constitutional democracy in the collaboration with “people, the state, the courts and the Chapter 9 institutions”.
“It is wrong for us to think that courts are the only way we can resolve our problems, the Constitution is ours,” said Ramogale.
Lastly, Dr Mathews Phosa, a veteran apartheid activist, South African attorney and politician, handed over the baton to next generation.
Phosa emphasised that getting our Constitution was a struggle. “The constitution did not fly down from heaven like manna.”
Impressed with the efforts of this generations student movements, he encouraged students further to get what they are asking for.
Phosa said he was impressed with how students were able to engage maturely with these difficult topics, saying that “every generation has defines the frontier of their struggles.” In closing Phosa said, “after this discussion I feel safe about the future of our country.”
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