The Zeerust African Students Association was formed mainly by Tiro. While he was still studying at Turfloop, Tiro used to return to his home village ofDinokana for the university holidays. It was during one these visits that he helped establish ZASA to organise local high school students. Among the students who attended this founding meeting was Zakes Pitso Tolo, who at the time was studying at Motswedi High School. Students should come together in a students’ association. After ZASA was formed, Tiro also helped organise a seriesof conferences at each of the high schools in Lehurutshe (by the early 1970s, there were three high schools in the area in Dinokana, Gopane and Motswedi) which he addressed.
ZASA and its related activities were not overtly political; rather they focused on issues which were of immediate concerns to students – for example through the setting up of study groups to help students tackle difficult subjects, such as Science and Agriculture, which were taught in Afrikaans. ZASA students also collected money so that they could buy the Rand Daily Mail or the World newspapers, which they would read and share. This way, they were able to keep abreast of events in the country. ZASA was fundamentally an organisation that was strogly influenced by the Black Consciousness Movement.
Before the explosion of the Soweto uprising in June 1976, ZASA had already independently embarked on a campaign to end corporal punishment in Dinokana Secondary School. In particular the campaign ‘actually demanded that the Principal be expelled because he was assaulting pupils. Although this was a spontaneous and uncoordinated action, the campaign ended up having a significant impact, both in terms of raising the levels of political consciousness of fellow students, and for the Dinokana community at large.