Social Media Reaction to Fees Commission

By Verlie Oosthuizen, Head of Social Media Law

Over two years after the first version of #FeesMustFall started at Wits, President Zuma announced the findings of Judge Heher who chaired the Fee Commission.

The reaction to the report on social media was swift and many of the comments expressed great disappointment in the findings.  The executive summary of the report, which the President received at the end of August but only released on 13 November, states that it will be impossible for University fees to be completely subsidised by government but recommends that more money be directed towards TVET Colleges (Technical and Vocational Education and Training).

Many of the tweets that came out in reaction to the report express anger and dissatisfaction at the suggestion that a cost sharing model of loans from commercial banks guaranteed by government with payment being based on the borrower’s income after studies are completed.

There is no doubt that social media was one of the main mediums through which the movement was organised and allowed to gain traction.  Calls to action are already being seen on the twitter feeds and it is unlikely that we have seen the end of this issue. There have already been some protests in Cape Town which disrupted classes and the new Wits SRC narrowly avoided a shut down before exams this year.

The country is in a state of political turmoil which seems to be boiling ahead of the ANC conference in December.  No doubt we will see the further influence of social media being used as a powerful tool during this time.

VERLIE OOSTHUIZEN
Shepstone & Wylie Social Media Law Department