JOHANNESBURG - Wits University has confirmed that the general assembly planned for this morning has been postponed.
Students and management could not reach agreement and the assembly
will now take place when a consensus is reached and conditions for such
an assembly are met.
The general assembly was aimed at addressing the funding crisis at the university.
Yesterday students and workers were locked in talks compiling a list of internal demands to present at today’s meeting.
The university suspended classes earlier this week following several violent confrontations between students and police.
Today’s general assembly was set to chaired by the chancellor of Wits University, former chief justice Dikgang Moseneke.
Vice-chancellor Adam Habib says it was in talks with students until
the early hours of this morning but no consensus could be reached.
“When the university and its council puts its entire energy behind a
statement, as significant as this, it’s a dramatic statement to make.
We’ve also committed to having a general assembly and we’ve committed to
doing a march to the Constitutional Court.
“We’ll postpone the general assembly until consensus is reached. We
remain committed to the pledge and the march and should conditions
enable this, we’ll be happy to engage.”
Below is the full statement from the Wits senior executive team:
It is with deep regret that we announce the postponement of the General Assembly that was to be held today.
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. We had
reached consensus with all University constituencies including Council,
Senate, Convocation, labour and staff, but not with the protesting
Despite all our attempts and the energetic engagement of former Black
Student Society and SRC leaders, the mediation process with the
protesting students was unsuccessful.
A congregation of the General Assembly is called when the University
community has reached consensus on a particular issue. In this case,
there has been no consensus from all constituencies and no agreement
from the protesting students that the academic programme will continue
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.
One of the latest demands of the protesting students is that Wits and
all other universities should be shut down until government agrees to
In addition, there has been no agreement 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.
There is also a risk that the safety and security of those attending the General Assembly today cannot be guaranteed.
We will postpone the General Assembly until consensus is reached and
the conditions for such an Assembly are met. We remain committed to the
pledge and the march, and should conditions enable this, we would be
happy to proceed.
The University has dedicated many resources in preparation for this
major event, including negotiating the pledge that was to be read out
today, ensuring the availability of key role-players, and losing out on
another week of lectures.
We thank the mediators for their time, their patience and their
insight in their attempts to reach consensus on a matter of national
importance. They spent countless hours trying to obtain consensus from
all constituencies this week.
A Council meeting will be called this weekend after which a way
forward for the University will be determined. We regret any convenience
Below are the demands from the Wits Fees Must Fall Movement issued this morning:
The FeesMustFall movement demands that the University of the
Witwatersrand should support the national struggle for Free Decolonised
Education for all now. By ‘support’ we mean:
• The University should officiate *shut down* until the government of
South Africa makes a commitment to legislate Free Decolonised Education
for all *now*;
• The University and the Vice Chancellor march with the Fees Must Fall
Movement to provincial and national sites of the government;
• The University use it’s position as chair of Universities South Africa
to call on Vice Chancellors to commit similarly on the various
• Should the legislative and the executive branches of government fail
in delivering Free Decolonised Education for all now, the university
will file a class action against the government at the Constitutional
• The University as chair of Universities South Africa should task all
Vice Chancellors to do away with the levy instituted against
International African students