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General Assembly postponed

- Wits University

Urgent announcement from the Statement from the Senior Executive Team (08:30):

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 students.

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 on Monday.

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 free education.

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 caused.