Here’s What the World is Saying About South Africa’s #FeesMustFall Protests



The ongoing protests at South Africa’s universities have hit the global headlines. Here’s a selection of what some international publications are saying.

As violence continues to escalate at universities across South Africa, the world is taking note. The ongoing #FeesMustFall protests have made news headlines globally. The bulk of coverage has come from the newswires – Reuters , Getty, AFP and so on, but handful of publications have run editorials on the unrest. Here’s what they have to say.

First up, An extraordinarily sensationalist headline screams: Apartheid rears its ugly head as protests descend into violence in South Africa. The piece intros with: “it is feared that South Africa may be on its way to a new Apartheid after protests about free education continue to descend into violence” before explaining that violence at Wits has now headed into its third day.

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Number of people quoted who say they fear the country is heading for a new apartheid? Zero. It does make a mention of the legacy of apartheid, though, but nowhere is it explained how the ongoing protest action could lead to a “new apartheid”.

The New York Times wrote an editorial piece in September already, way before the current, heavy violence. Titled: “Anatomy of the Student Protests in South Africa” which breaks down how and why the protests started and notes that the issue is not exclusive to South Africa, saying many students who graduate in the States end up doing so with huge amounts of debt. notes that the issue has almost become a proxy for protesting against wider inequality that still persists in the country.

The piece reads: “Amid the tear-gas, the whiff of revolution is in the air. That and the evaporating authority of the ANC government.” It notes the silence and the absence of the South African government in the saga and says that while the group of protestors are a “small minority” the effects could be immense and cost the country’s “already enfeebled economy” billions.

It also notes the knock on effect – both for student and the South African workforce – for students who cannot graduate and finishes with this: “The campuses have become battle-fields and unless there’s a peace deal soon, the lesson many will draw from these universities is that South Africa is a nation bent on self-destruction.”

And finally, the Associated Press – a global newswire – wrote about how the protests are starting to show evidence of “racial division”. Using an example of how a group of mostly black students confronting white students over continuing the academic year at Wits, it later added that “the sensitive topic of race relations is coming to the fore as more white students express their views“.

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