South African universities are serving low-quality food to its students, adding fuel to the fire of the Fees Must Fall Protests.
Students across South Africa, particularly at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria are in uproar over the substandard quality of food served in the cafeteria. Prices of the food have also increased, a change that the students deemed unfair for the quality of food they were receiving. This issue has given momentum to the Fees Must Fall protests that have been taking place on campuses across South Africa. Classes were suspended on Tuesday the 11th and Wednesday the 12th of April on the TUT campus as students had blocked the main entrance to the university.
The food on the TUT campus, provided by Desmondi Catering, is cooked days in advance of when it is to be served. During this time, it goes stale and many students find it inedible. This fact, coupled with the increase of the prices of the food, sent the students into uproar. Many students are now unable to afford food on campus. There has been no change in the catering of TUT campus even though complaints have been made about Desmondi in previous years. Students have taken ill from the campus food and have had enough.
Gift Mashinini, secretary of the South African Student’s Congress (Sasco) spoke up the issue taking place on the TUT campus. He claimed that he was unsure that the campus management had been into the cafeteria kitchens since the beginning of the year and pushes for the removal of Desmondi Catering.
The increase in food prices coupled with the decrease in quality of the food gave momentum to the Fees Must Fall protests that are taking place across the country. Students not only burned campus property, but also took to the offices of Blade Nzimande, Higher education and training minister, before security closed the main entrance to the building.
TUT is not the only campus under pressure surrounding food. The University of Venda campus closed after students were not paid their meal grants. Students have been forced to rent out parts of their accommodation to other students who have promised to pay them back in food.
Though this is not an issue in many of the dominant universities in South Africa, it has caused a great deal of unrest. Particularly considering the basic need of food in any environment, especially one that requires intense levels of concentration.