#FeesMustFall Hashtag in South Africa Turns Into #FeesHaveFallen. But Have They?

Joe Slovo shack settlement. Image source: http://tokolosstencils.tumblr.com/

Will youths living in slums like Joe Slovo shack settlement afford higher education in South Africa. Image source: http://tokolosstencils.tumblr.com/. Used with permission

Following #FeesMustFall nationwide protests that brought South African universities to a standstill, President Jacob Zuma met with student leaders on Friday, October 23, and announced that there will be a no fee hike. He also promised to look at broader issues affecting university students such as accommodation and racism. The deadline for the exam period has also been extended to make up for lost time.

The South African government intended to increase university tuition fees in 2016 by as much as 12 percent. Students opposed the hike, which would have kept poor South Africans from receiving higher education. The protests started at Witwatersrand University (also known as Wits) last Wednesday, October 14, and spread throughout South Africa.

The hashtag used by the protesters, #FeesMustFall, became an organising tool for students and their supporters. Carol Danvers acknowledged Twitter as one of the reasons for the success of the protest:

However, despite president Zuma's announcement, the struggle is not over yet as the president of Student Representative Council and one of the leaders of #FeesMustFall movement, Shaeera Kalla, pointed out:

Misleading hashtag?

Questions have come up regarding the use of the hashtag to celebrate the announcement of the zero percent hike, #FeesHaveFallen. Some South Africans argue that the hashtag is misleading because the fees remain the same and are prohibitive to most South Africans.

Lethabo wondered if the fees have really fallen:

Tiyaselani predicted huge fee hikes in 2017:

Lord Zange Aphoswe reminded South Africans that:

And warned against the confusing hashtag:

‘Nothing's changed’

Drewan Baird noted:

Farieda Khan identified new area of focus for activists in South Africa:

Goldman cautioned those who are demanding for free education:

While Gugz Chantelle Nkosi expressed her fear:

The protests have provided key lessons to activists in other countries such as Boniface Mwangi in Kenya and Elnathan in Nigeria:

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