Johannesburg – The Fees Must Fall student movement may begin to lose some public sympathy due to some unlawful and unconstitutional actions taken by some of its members, says leader Nompendulo Mkhatshwa.
“My biggest fear right now, [is] that we are losing a lot of public sympathy because we are so frustrated, we are aggravated and we don’t know how to still achieve what we can achieve but within law-abiding means,” Mkhathswa, who is also president of the student representative council at the University of Witwatersrand said on Tuesday.
Mkhathswa was addressing reporters at the #IAmConstitution debate at Constitutional Hill in Braamfontein, Johannesburg shortly before joining a panel on stage.
She said the youth in the country were aware of their rights and the responsibilities that came with those rights.
“And while we are fighting for what we are fighting for it’s important that we remember what the Constitution says and that our actions are in line with it, so that we don’t find ourselves on the wrong side of history one day where we seem as if we were the perpetrators when in fact we were the victims of this whole system,” she said.
Although students’ problem with the increasing costs of university tuition was not a new topic, the anger and frustration of students which had been brewing over the years eventually came to a boiling point, resulting in a country-wide student protests which almost brought the country to a standstill.
“There were a lot of grievances building up over time and it only makes sense that it gained the amount of momentum that it gained and it is where it is right now,” Mkhatshwa said.
She said it was great to see other students rallying behind the cause and pushing it to be addressed country-wide.
Former ANC leader Mathews Phosa, who had also attended the debate, said although the youth was fighting a different struggle from that of his generation, they should also familiarise themselves with the Constitution.
“The young people who were born during 1994 don’t know the Constitution…they will have to read it and understand it.
“Understand that there was a struggle that produced that Constitution, understand that there is a future which the Constitution is trying to shape for them, and say ‘what are our responsibilities as young people?’,” he said.