#anccaptureofFeesMustFall

In his Notes towards the Definition of Culture, T.S. Eliot remarked that “there are moments when the only choice is between heresy and non-belief – i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split.” This observation is important in contextualising the veneration of Nompendulo Mkhatshwa and the placement of the ANC-aligned PYA at the centre of the #FeesMustFall Movement for purposes of producing a narrative of the ANC as a leader in popular people’s struggles. Somewhere else http://www.culture-review.co.za/culture-fees-distortion I argued that the narrative of the #FeesMustFall as Wits student-bred and driven, was not accidental, it was to exceptionalise it for purposes of isolating it from the overall struggles of our people. The ANC is the political party in power, therefore the challenge to scraping of University fees by students was largely seen as a questioning of the ANC’s moral authority as a “leader” of the people, therefore its legitimacy. 21 years into democracy, the younger generation has challenged the ANC government’s hegemony in ways it never imagined. Hence the #FeesMustFall presented not only a threat to this commoditized education but the legitimacy of the ANC government.

But what makes the #FeesMustFall a threat as far as the ANC-led government is concerned? The end of political apartheid in 1994 in itself, created the impossibility of political imagination beyond the “rainbow nation” and an ANC-led government. The ANC as the self-proclaimed arch-heroes of the ’94-miracle has scripted a narrative that presents it as a progressive liberation movement in governance, thus responsible of numerous “gains” achieved in the past 21 years. However, the past few years have seen a political imagination marked by and steeped into Steven Bantu Biko’s enduring legacy of black dignity, land ownership and a values system reflective of the aspirations of the majority of the black people in this land. So the #FeesMustFall at the backdrop of another Black Consciousness-inspired movements, #RhodesMustFall at the University of Cape Town, Black Student Movement at the university currently known as Rhodes University and #OpenStellenbosch, is and has been a direct descendent of Biko’s enduring legacy. It has dared to not simply demand an immediate ceasing of perpetual increment of tuition fees, but the total scrapping thereof, meaning a facilitation of a free, quality and socialist education, together with the unconditional ending of outsourced labour in our universities. These demands, stand contrary to the ANC-led government’s interests: privatized education, exploitation of black labour through labour brokers and to have majority of our society, especially the youth, disfranchised and in the periphery.

It is for this reason that the ANC, as it did to hijack the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania’s (PAC) Anti-Pass Campaign, which led to the Sharpeville-Langa Massacres [through having Albert Luthuli burn his dompass in front of the media, when thousands had already done so and Robert Sobukwe et al, had surrendered themselves to the police], sort to hijack the concrete and correct continuation of the #FeesMustFall struggle. Faced with prospects of a dwindling hegemony and eventual descend from power, the ANC needed a new ‘heresy’, presented in this moment by the Wits chapter of the #FeesMustFall. Nompendulo Mkhatswa’s with her ANC-branded head-wraps, Mcebo Dlamini and Shaeera Kalla etc. with the help of media veneration, provided the ANC with the much needed game-changing moment, which gave the impression that the #FeesMustFall Movement was fighting an abstract system, not the ANC government. After all, how can a movement ‘led’ by the PYA, fight against its own mother body?

This decisive moment at the height of the #FeesMustFallMovement was the sectarian split that kept the ANC alive, because when the students marched to Luthuli House, even the ANC endorsed the action of students and went on to urge its members to ‘support’ and ‘join’ the calls of fees to fall. At the forefront of this sectarian split was Nompendulo, Mcebo and Shaeera, there to pacify the students from recognising that their enemy is the ANC-led government, which oversees the perpetuation of a commoditised education system that disproportionally affects them. It must be noted though, that Mcebo, Nompendulo and Shaeera did not want students to marh to Luthuli House, but they were out voted by the masses of students. It was there at Luthuli House that Mcebo in particular sucked up to the ruling party’s Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, claiming how this is the ANC he knows, one that comes to the people and humbles itself; this is all while, Vuyani Pambo of the EFFSC was remonstrating that he (Gwede) must sit down on the floor like Adam Habib had a week earlier, and listen to them. Nevertheless, a day after President Zuma had announced the 0% fee increment, the Wits chapter of #FeesMustFall Movement convened to take stock and interrogate the announcement and thereby chart a way forward. As history has now noted, the less than 100 progressive beauties of #FeesMustFall rejected the Presidency’s announcement and vowed to continue the #shutdown until their demands had been addressed and met, especially the ending of outsourcing at Wits. These students who continued the university shutdown were met with police brutality, but eventually won and insourcing was announced It is at this point, even though unbeknown to many and despite the Luthuli House blemish by the PYA-affiliated trio of a former, current and incoming SRC Presidents, that the #FeesMustFall was about to be sacrificed at the altar of patronage and partisan loyalty, by the self-same trio of Presidents. On Sunday, after there had been a subsequent meeting to the one on Saturday, which gloriously affirmed the continuity of the revolutionary #shutdown, the #FeesMustFall became aware of a secret meeting between the PYA and the three Presidents. Upon gate-crashing this meeting, it was discovered that the agenda of the said gathering was the derailing of the #FeesMustFall and amongst other things were undeclared amounts of R40 000. The two Presidents startled and embarrassed failed to sum up a reasonable explanation of what was taking place. Not only this, they had failed to declare beforehand the planning of such meeting, its agenda and its implications on the ongoing #shutdown as led by the #FeesMustFall Movement. To compound the fact that this was a capture of the movement, on Monday the three Presidents were nowhere to be seen as students and workers continued their #shutdown, the SRC was further implicated in a secret agreement with the Wits Management and the PYA distanced itself from the #shutdown, thus peddling the false notion that the #FeesMustFall was without the “people” and their support. Wits academic- Dr Kelly Gillespie writes about this secret meeting and describes it as “the ANC sent its delegates to convince the ANC-aligned students to close down the bigger demands that the student movement was articulating, demands which showed the ANC up for not having met its 1994 election promise of “Free Quality Education for All”.

It has now emerged that young Nompendulo is working as a researcher at Luthuli House, further raising her commitment in achieving the mandate of the #FeesMustFall. Some have fairly questioned what is wrong with her working there and it is not like people never knew that she was ANC. However, for those of us acquainted and immersed in a continuous struggle for our eventual liberation from all forms of oppression including their present manifestations in a form of financial exclusion and outsourcing of labour. We take cue from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung’s encouragement to stand for an active ideological struggle. Nompendulo et al, as members of the ANC and her in particular, as its employee, lack the ethical legitimacy and moral authority to wage a genuine ideological struggle against an administration she is beholden to. It is tantamount to having white liberals representing blacks and fighting apartheid when they continued to unduly benefit from their association to it.  The ANC is the party in power and has failed dismally to use its majority to put the power it has, at the service of the people. It remains largely the party Sobukwe et al left en masse to form the PAC, the same party IB Tabata questioned whose interests did it serve objectively, meaning a party that has always only been interested in the sort of integration decried by Biko. An integration where use each other as rungs up a ladder while majority disproportionally poor. Of-course as in during the fight against apartheid, the ANC has been good at imposing heroes, case in point, Nelson Mandela, it has done the same with Nompendulo. While at the height of the #FeesMustFall Movement in the eyes of the media, Nompendulo was a perpetual feature with her striking pose, seeming to will on the masses to continue the fight. She now remains the media favourite, albeit now in a puffed, make-upped posture, as evidenced by the latest Destiny Magazine’s December issue cover, titled “The Year of the Student”. The masses, all those represented by the #FeesMustFall because they are, according to the historical moment in which the land is experiencing and want what corresponds to the fundamental necessity of the history of our land, have had a leader imposed on them, one they unequivocally rejected upon discovering she was sacrificing them at the altar of patronage and partisan-loyalty.

Thanks to her and Mcebo’s antics, the movement almost got derailed and the ANC’s hegemony remains significant, but unfortunately for them, students all over the country are starting to question the ANC and their ANC aligned SRCs.

On Student Activism at CUT

There is a need to try and resolve a dominant
contradiction(partisan pettiness) that is and has been alive and evident for quite sometime now; secondly, this necessity is not an affirmation of the logic that students are indeed apolitical and abhor political activism (and this means exactly activism not some pseudo-militancy and demagoguery disguised as radicalism lacking consciousness and fostering thereof). In fact, this is but an indication that some section of the student community is indeed apolitical, and that it is however, not the real reasons for the diminishing student participation in both student activism and governance.
Essentially, when one draws a complete picture of student activism and the state it is in, which directly impacts on student governance and thus students’ wellbeing, one discovers that:

1. There is a coding (implicitly or blatantly) of
student activism as “terrorism” by the University and its officials; the tendency to “demonize” (by suppression, intimidation and indoctrination) any form political activism and agitation (this is also evident in the manner the academic stuff treatsand regards the SRC and student leaders in general).
2. There is a lack of political education and
heightening of students’ consciousness by
students’ political formations,
3. There is lack of clearly defined objectives and strategies by students.
4. There is no unity and even cohesive,
consistent solidarity within the student
community.

A space has been created deliberately and
consciously by the University, to isolate and
eventually discard political consciousness and activism as important aspects of students’ existence in and their socialization as members of the academic community and the academic project. Politics have come to mean exactly what they were under apartheid, “terrorism”, and this is affirmed by the recent court order.

Political activists within the student community have failed to grasp this reality and conceive methods and ways to overcome it, instead has resorted to badmouthing each other thus perpetuating divisions within. The student community is complacent at best and ignorant at worst, of the reality of their environment and the status quo of student activism and governance, their only voice within a University.

Student activists as leaders of the student
community, as called upon by their incumbency and standing within this community, should quicken to dialectically approach this situation and ensure that they vigorously stop the rot and overturn the state of affairs. This should start by them firstly overcoming their petty differences, and finding common ground regardless of their affiliations and personal feelings towards each other; secondly identifying and agreeing on common objectives, thirdly devising a common programme of action in achieving the set objectives and fourthly accelerating political education and fostering of consciousness; remembering as Frantz Fanon said: “…[P]olitical education means opening up the mind, awakening the mind, and introducing it to the world. It is as Cesaire said “To invent the souls of men.” To politicise the masses is not and cannot be to make a political speech. It means driving home to the masses that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate the fault is theirs, and that if we progress, they too are responsible, that there is no demiurge, no illustrious man taking responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people and the magic lies in their hands alone.” I believe once some of these can be done, we can go a long way in ensuring that a University is indeed a terrain of deliberative democracy and students’ grievances can be addressed better.

Nkandlagate as a moral question.

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’
Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’
But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.”-Martin Luther King Jr.

I usually do not subscribe to the notion that ours is a sound and functioning democracy. Hence I wouldn’t even involve myself in the ‘constitutional’ questions raised against the current seating head of state and his executive. However, I have become compelled to, this time around. And my point of reference is the question of President Jacob Zuma adhering to the remedial action stated by the Public Protector Report on Nkandla.

The question of Nkandla and particularly the President’s response to it, reflects the moral makeup and state of the South African Executive. A while ago, in response to his erstwhile party’s scathing attack on an interview he made on SABC. Black Consciousness firebrand and former EFF MP, Andile Mngxitama raised an issue against the now prevailing culture of unaccountability and maintaince of conspiracy silence on matters of principles and morality. This culture has eroded our sense of what’s right and what’s not, so much that even the higher echelons of the ruling party has remained mum on the questionable transactions involving Nkandla. This extends beyond Nkandla as it includes the Marikana Massacre, where the executive’s complicity was also left unaccounted for.

But what has caused this erosion? It is the elevation of expediency over of a sense of what’s right, the relegation of conscience to make way for political convenience. The President and his executive have deliberately ignored the moral questions surrounding the Nkandla issue. The logic driving this refusal is one undergirded by not complying with actions supported by the opposition parties. Complying with the Public Protector’s report will be tantamount to cowing to the pressure off EFF’s #PayBackTheMoney campaign. What is however perplexing about this political stance of the African National Congress’s and it’s deployed executive is its constant lamentation that the Democratic Alliance seeks to rule the country via the courts, thus reversing the democratic gains achieved since 1994. This is perplexing because the ANC as the self-proclaimed arch-heroes of the ’94-miracle claim to love this democracy so much that it is willing to undermine and tear-down the democratic institutions that form the basis of this very same democracy. To paraphrase Slavoj Zizek, with ‘friendly’ defenders like this, our democracy needs no enemies. The political expedience that comes with defying political positions supported by either the EFF or the DA is necessary than the moral legitimacy of complying with the Public Protector’s remedial action.

Yet for me, this political fundamentalism obscures the correct moral standpoint of the #PayBackTheMoney. It misses the opportunity to create a culture of transparency and accountability, which will go a long way in protecting this democracy the ANC so much claims to love and regards as its brainchild. In his Notes towards the Definition of Culture, T.S. Eliot remarked that “there are moments when the only choice is between heresy and non-belief – i.e., when the only way to keep a religion alive is to perform a sectarian split.” This is the position in South Africa today. Only a new ‘heresy’ – represented at this moment by #PayBackTheMoney– can save what is worth saving of the 1994 legacy: democracy, respect for the people and public resources , accountability etc.

In conclusion, President Zuma should stop side-stepping a moral question of when and how is he going to adhere to the Public Protector’s remedial action by continuously reducing it to an administrative issue through raising technicalities. Rather he ought to do something that is neither safe for him nor politic for his party but one that is right for this country and democracy.

Leading While Black!

“[T]he world has more than one way of keeping you a nigger, has evolved more than one way of skinning the cat…”- James Baldwin, No Name in the Street

Civility is a register I briefly traded in while the President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the Welkom Campus of the Central University of Technology, Free State (CUT). That was until I woke up to the reality that the world problem with me and my kind was not our lack of respectability but our very existence. My insistence at proper decorum was based on the assumption that if we as student leaders behaved in a polite and reasonable manner, our voices will be heard. I in particular argued that one of the primary reasons we are not taken seriously was because of our approach to issues. This was because a few our comrades had been expelled and we decided to change our approach. However this approach was oblivious at best or ignorant at worst, to the fact that our problem in this world as blacks, is “one of complete captivity from birth to death, and coercion as the starting point of our interaction with the state and with ordinary white citizens.”(Wilderson III: ill-will-editions-2014)

Firstly, we completely missed to recognise that the terrain of civil society, which is the one the University exists in, is inherently, reflective of the logic that undergirds this society; one of racism and anti-Blackness as a precondition for its functionality. Frank Wilderson argues that “civil society is not a terrain intended for the Black subject. It is coded as waged and wages are White. [Civil society] is the terrain where hegemony is produced, contested, mapped. And the invitation to participate in hegemony’s gestures of influence is not extended to the unwaged (Blacks).”

Our youthful optimism (read naivety), misled us into thinking that serving as an SRC, was an “invitation to participate in hegemony’s gestures of influence”, which by the way was not extended to us as Black students. In addition, we got totally immersed into the “cooperative governance” discourse sold to us by the University. Thereby reckoning that we held capacity to “transform endless time into meaningful event and endless space into nameable place” something [this capacity] destroyed for the Black. This we did, in spite of the fact “the production of discourse is at once controlled, selected, organised and redistributed according to certain procedures, whose role is to avert its powers and its dangers, to cope with chance events, to evade its ponderous, awesome materiality.” (Foucalt, orders of discourse).

There was no way the unwaged (Blacks) with lack of essential Human capacity, operating within a controlled discourse, could achieve their objectives. This fact corroborated by Audre Lorde’s “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”, became apparent when 21 student leaders were all expelled in a space of 6 months by the University. The expulsions were just a demonstration of anti-Blackness coordinated by all the guns in the world. Further reemphasising that such a precarious situation black children serving as student leaders, found themselves in was unfathomable for white kids. Fighting for access to education, demanding adequate and quality services and treatment is an indictment afflicting only black students as a result of centuries-old, systematic marginalisation and dehumanisation of black people while creating undeserved comfort and privilege for whites. No white kid is forced to study in a small campus: accommodating just over 2000 students, with a tiny library and information centre that opens only during the day, a cafeteria that is the size of a shack, no in-campus housing (residences) and no clinic facilities, simply because they happen to be born in the wrong skin and their like are condemned to perpetual misery (financially and socially) and have to settle for this. It is only reserved for the Black, who are then compelled to “revolt simply because, for many reasons, they cannot breath.” Therefore a white kid after centuries of pillage on the backs of Blacks never gets to “not breathe” and then revolt. However, for us as Black kids, revolting became our only option, for we “could no longer breathe”. Leading eventually to the only logical conclusion awaiting any black person wishing to “breathe”, something exclusively reserved for whites. The disciplinary processes we were subjected to were not impartial and served to legitimise a foregone conclusion as the Vice-Chancellor/Principal had long called us a “marauding gang” of students whose sole purpose is to promote anarchy. And this also affirmed how structurally anti-Black our society is.

Our comrades in the Bloemfontein Campus, who had pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them, were “shot with their arms raised”, reminiscent of Mike Brown, thereby expelled. The “swift” manner the University moved to silence and then destroy our lives was the same as the one the SAPS acted with, in mowing 34 mine workers in Marikana for demanding a better pay. We simply demanded better services and like Andries Tatane we were “killed” in cold blood. Despite our cries that we could not breath as Eric Garner cried, we were choked to death through our expulsions. Amongst us, there are those whose expulsion mirrors the senseless and unprovoked murder of Amadou Diallo. Guilty by resemblance, guilty by being black and student leaders; we are condemned for being born black, in a white man’s world. Our perpetual coercion is a deliberate attempt to have us scale down our demands for the impossible that is to not demand we be recognised as humans, for it will lead to end of the world. We are doomed to social and literal death as blacks and thus our only option is to fight together. It is to as Kiese Laymon recently said to me, “we have to lean on each other and fight.” Therefore, this account of our story is a way to help us lean on each other and fight, because it is our only chance in this world that despises us.

#BringBackOUrGirls: What the abduction of close to 300 schools girls in Nigeria reveal about our African society in general?

“Comrades, there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half the people are held in silence. I hear the roar of woman’s silence. I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their revolt. I await and hope for the fertile eruption of the revolution through which they will transmit the strength and the rigorous justice issued from their oppressed wounds.”-Thomas Sankara

 

In the wake of the abduction of nearly 300 school girls in the Nigerian City of Chibok, at the state of Bono, in the North Eastern region of the country by an Islamist-styled insurgent group, Boko Haram since 14 April 2014 ; there is has been an international uproar, condemning  the act, that has been widely regarded as tantamount to terrorism. Boko Haram and its actions including the abduction reveal some form of extremism and reluctance to allow modernity and democratic values to become enshrined in the lives of Africans. What however remains striking and disturbing, is the underlying fundamental sexism that is borne out of heteronormative patriarchy. While for advocates of liberal democracy see the abduction of the girls as a threat to Nigeria’s sovereignty and security, including that of the entire West Africa region; the real story behind the abduction reveals the overall status and plight of African women at the hands of a heteronormative patriarchal society. The manner of the abduction of the girls and the treatment they have endured (being held and possibly sold as sexual slaves) under captivity [in fact the threat to sell as them as slaves is reminiscent of pimping women that is a dominant in our societies], notwithstanding the seemingly slow reaction in efforts to try and rescue them, exposes the common trait prevalent in all horror stories of our continent regarding women and their rights. Women are soft targets of extremist attacks and are forever marginalized to the periphery of civil society and the liberal rights it apparently upholds and cherishes.

Women have been common victims of all war crimes perpetuated during civil wars that have and continue to plague our continent. In the Democratic Republic of Congo’s decades-long war over the control of its mineral resources, sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) has been perpetually used as a weapon of war. Women are vulnerable at the hands of extremists that do not have any respect for human life, especially at the backdrop of them advancing their narrow and selfish agendas. Study published in 2011 in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that as of 2009 some 1.92 million Congolese women had been raped at some point in their lifetime; 462,293 had been raped in the previous year.

 

Closer to home, a woman by the name of Khwezi, laid charges of rape against the then former Deputy President and now current President of Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma in 2006; notwithstanding the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the country’s constitution, the woman was subjected to all sorts of abuse by the all and sundry. The failure of the country to have empathy and indeed sympathy to the alleged victim of a rape, in a country with devastating rape statistics (an average of 3 600 rapes day, 500 000 per year and only 1 in 9 rape cases reported), dealt a huge blow to the rights and security of women. The Jacob Zuma rape trial served as a catalyst in how the country has been dealing with the perception of rape and the scourge of rape. Despite the eventual acquittal of the accused, the abuse the accuser was subjected to throughout the trial underpinned the minimal rights and respect of women or lack thereof in a country gripped by the plague of rape and gender-based violence (60 % of males and 50% of males between the age of13 and 24 believe it is acceptable for husbands to beat their wives under certain circumstances).

 

Essentially, while we join millions all over the world in calling for safe return of the close to 300 Nigerian schools girls who are victims of a sick political battle between Islam Fundamentalists and the predominantly Christian government of Nigeria, what remains evident is the degradation of women generally in the eyes of a very sexist, heteronormative and patriarchal African society. That Boko Haram would specifically target women is not a microcosm of Islamic fundamentalism only but that of general culture of patriarchal politics in the entire African continent. Thus this calls for what in the words of Jessica Horn, is “the consideration of what actions can be taken to reverse the rise of close-minded, discriminatory, anti-democratic thinking dressed in the language of religion and [culture].” Meaning the Chobik calamity is an exposition of the overall failings of the entire continent in  its effort to be economically, politically and socially secure region.

 

As Jessica Horn correctly quoted the Nigerian writer and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka in a recent interview, “our generation of Africans needs to start taking greater action to [respond to those who think they have a divine right to mess up our lives]. Stopping the spread of religious fundamentalisms does not require military action. It requires the persistent public reaffirmation of critical thinking and debate, a separation of religion from state policy and law-making, strengthening progressive social movements, and the bravery to stand up in defence of the marginalised in our societies. It also requires us to be more assertive in our defence of women’s rights.”

 

A nation can rise no higher than its women.”-Minister Louis Farrakhan

Is the EFF the product of the logical conclusion of the ANCYL?

 

 

Writing in 1948, exactly 28 years before the 1976 June 16 uprising, Isaac Bangani Tabata made a telling observation on the existence of the youth wing of the oldest liberation movement (the African National Congress), an observation that arguably found absolute manifestation on the eve of the ANC’s 102nd year of existence, through the formation of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), ironically, by the former ANCYL’s national leadership and its constituency. Unbeknown to many and perhaps then dismissed as some form of sensationalism from Tabata, informed by his own cynicism; Tabata said in his letter to Nelson Mandela (the recently departed statesman of the Republic of South Africa), that “Politically, it [Youth League] does not belong to the Congress. It is one of those peculiar anomalies which arise in a political situation where there is lack of crystal clarity in political thinking. If the Youth League followed its political principles to their logical conclusion, it would land itself outside the fold of Congress.” This he justified further by saying: “In fact, the African National Congress is rooted, in the past, whereas the Youth League is the product of modem conditions with a modern outlook. That is the essential difference between them.” For Tabata, it was not a case of the two simply having different approaches, in fact it was precisely because of the political reality and interests the two organisations served objectively. After all, Tabata had argued that the formation of the ANC had only been progressive insofar as keeping up with the times only and given the make-up of the political situation at the time [breaking up with the tribalist outlook the resistance and struggle for liberation had taken so far] than actually with its objective to transform the political and material existence of the African people, something crystallized in the Youth League’s 1949 Programme of Action.

For years now, different leaders of the YL have objected to Tabata’s assertions, citing his lack of comprehensive understanding that the YL was and is the product of the ANC and serves as a “brain station” of the latter, not its political foe or equal. They base their argument on the fact that it was the ANC that took the resolution and indeed the step to form the YL, not the other way round. Of course forgetting that Tabata had earlier argued that what defines an organization’s the raison d’etre is not what “the members say or think about an organisation that matters. It is not even a question of the good intentions of the leaders. What is of paramount importance is the programme and principles of the organisations. It is not the subjective good-will of the leaders that matters, but the objective functions of the organisation, what effect it has on society.” And these basic facts premised his argument. For him of course, these facts proved that YL and ANC were not of the same kinship.

It is then with the above that one is compelled to argue the case that the expulsion of the ANCYL leadership elected in 2011 at its 24 National Conference and the subsequent disintegration of its structures, was as a result of the “Youth League following its political principles to their logical conclusion, therefore landing itself outside the fold of Congress.” Since its unbanning and release of some of its leaders from Robben Island, the ANC has sought of backtracked on its initial stance that:

  • The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people;
  • The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the Banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole;
  • All other industry and trade shall be controlled to assist the wellbeing of the people;

The above, coupled with the facts that South Africa has the third highest unemployment rate in the world for people between the ages of 15 to 24, an overwhelming 50% of that age group, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk report. This is in addition to about 4.5 million young people in the same age group, that  are neither in any form of schooling and/or education and training.” Required the ANCYL in 2011 to resolve that:

o   To reaffirm the ANC Youth League 1st National General Council resolution on nationalisation of mines, this should be appended to the consolidated resolutions as a Congress resolution.

o   To adopt the economic transformation perspective as encapsulated in the discussion document “A clarion call to Economic Freedom Fighters: Programme of Action for Economic Freedom in our Lifetime”, as an official programme of the ANC Youth League until all the identified objectives are attained.

This is in contrast to the ANC’s 53rd National Conference Resolutions:

  •  Transform the structure of the economy through industrialisation, broad-based black economic empowerment, strengthening and expanding the role of the state and the role of state owned enterprises.
  • Accelerating shared economic growth by overcoming obstacles to growth and intervening to promote equity.
  • Macroeconomic policies that support growth, job creation and poverty eradication on a sustainable basis.
  • The national infrastructure plan, which is an opportunity to change the structure of the economy.
  • State intervention with a focus on beneficiation for industrialisation is urgently required. Instruments are required to support beneficiation and competitive pricing of these strategic resources include the use of targeted management of exports of minerals. In addition, SA’s share of some resources offers possible producer power which could be used to facilitate backward and forward mineral economic linkages.
  • At the forefront of state intervention should be the strengthening of the state mining company which will capture a share of mineral resource rents and equity.
  • The state must capture an equitable share of mineral resource rents through the tax system and deploy them in the interests of long-term economic growth, development and transformation.
  • The New Growth Path is the economic strategy designed to shift the trajectory of economic development, including through identified drivers of job creation.

It can be argued by those within ANC that this is a skewed and very selective reading of the YL’s position; and also by those outside it, especially those in PAC and to a certain extent, AZAPO, that the economic transformation of the ANCYL (and now EFF) is neither socialist nor has a socialist intent, instead it is just a ploy for state capitalism that will perpetuate the same crimes perpetuated first by colonialism and apartheid and now by the ANC-led government through its protection of white monopoly capital and non-disturbance of the economic production make-up of the country. They argue that, nationalization as Frantz Fanon had noted over a half-century ago; “does not mean placing the whole economy at the service of the nation and deciding to satisfy the needs of the nation. For them, nationalization does not mean governing the state with regard to the new social relations whose growth it has been decided to encourage.” That to the YL (now EFF), “nationalization quite simply means the transfer into native hands of those unfair advantages which are a legacy of the colonial period.” More recently, NUMSA lamented at EFF’s nationalization as not being “workerist”, meaning not nationalization under workers’ control.  

However, to not digress fundamentally from the premise of the article, the argument is not necessarily on the socialist intent or inherent make-up of the EFF, but to qualify Tabata’s assertion that the YL not politically belonging to the ANC, thus the formation of the EFF. The claim is affirmed by the EFF’s cardinal pillars which state that:

v  Expropriation of South Africa’s land without compensation for equal redistribution in use.

v   Nationalisation of mines, banks, and other strategic sectors of the economy, without compensation.

v  The benefits of nationalising strategic sectors of the economy will include, but not be limited to, the following realities:

a. An increased fiscus for, and therefore more resources for, education, housing, healthcare, infrastructure development, safety and security and sustainable livelihoods for our people.

b. More jobs for our people because state-owned and controlled mines will increase the local beneficiation and industrialisation of mineral resources. This will, in turn, reduce the high levels of poverty consequent of joblessness.

c. More equitable spatial development because state-owned and controlled mines will invest in areas where mining is happening.

d. Better salaries and working conditions in mines because state-owned mines will increase the mining wage and improve compliance with occupational health and safety standards.

e. Greater levels of economic and political sovereignty, as the state will be in control and ownership of strategic sectors of the economy, which produce mineral resources needed around the world.

Something the ANCYL had already advocated for towards it 24th National Congress:

  •       Nationalisation to increase the State’s fiscal capacity and better the working conditions,
  •        Nationalisation as a basis for industrialisation,
  •       Nationalisation as a means to safeguard sovereignty,
  •       Nationalisation as a basis to transform accumulation path in the South African economy, and
  •       Nationalisation to transform South Africa’s unequal spatial development patterns.
  •       State Mining Company to:

■Own and control South Africa’s mineral resources;

■Maximise the nation’s economic gain from the mineral resources;

■Contribute to South Africa’s social and economic development

It is with the aforementioned facts that one may conclude that the formation of the EFF is by far and large, the result of the ANCYL following its political principles to their logical conclusion, therefore landing itself outside the fold of Congress.

Letter To Fezile Sonkwane.

Dear Fezile Sonkwane,

I write this letter at the backdrop of your own letter to the Central University of Technology, Free State, Vice-Chancellor Prof Thandwa Mthembu. Allow me from the onset to make it clear that my own letter does not serve to be a counter to your congratulatory one to the VC.
To make sure that I am not misunderstood on the last point, let me be the first to reiterate the undisputable facts you mentioned:

1. Six brand new state-of-the-art buildings and facilities were erected in order create a conducive learning environment for all. Namely the Academic Support Centre, massive improvements of the ZR Mahabane and Dirk Coetzee Buildings, Teacher Education Buildings at both campuses of the CUT.
2. Some R108 million was allocated to students in need of financial aid in the form of NSFAS in 2012 alone. The CUT Council increased student bursaries and scholarships from R13.1 million to R14.1 million for 2013.
3. Formation of the Stars of Academic Excellence and Research (SOAR) programme as an “in-house grow-your-own-timber strategy”. It has brought on board a stream of highly qualified talent onto our academic and research corps. This programme has managed to register 4 PhD, 12 Master’s, 2 Diploma, and 2 Certificate students.
4. CUT adopted the Vision 2020 concept which in turn has seen the formation of a) the Free State IT Hub that is meant to turn the Free State into an IT hub in software development b) A new International Office c) the Schools Advancement Academy etc.
5. In 2012, PhD holders increased from 58 to 70, and Masters-holders increased from 88 to 104. At the end of 2012, 23% of teaching/research staff held PhD degrees, while the percentage of academics with Master’s degrees was 36%.
6. CUT has also seen the introduction of new academic programmes such as a) Higher certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies b) Advanced Diploma in Agricultural Extension c) Diploma in Studio Art d) Bachelor in Radiography etc.

All the above is true and should be attributed to the leadership provided by the incumbent. And it is further true that under the surface of these laudable achievements there lay innumerate problems plaguing our university; hence we face academic and financial exclusion of our students’ year in, year out. However as already mentioned, this letter is not a counter to your complimentary one.

Now that we have dealt with the obvious, allow me then to shift my focus to the devious innuendos your letter sought to advance insidiously. I wish to expose that behind your somewhat sycophantic praise of the VC, lies your own agenda to continue your delusions of grandeur and constant refusal to accept the outcomes of the democratic processes that took place last year on the 28th August 2013, that declared your erstwhile Comrade, David Makhoali, representing SASCO, as the SRC President of the CUT Bloemfontein Campus. Your insidious agenda needs to be exposed for what it really is and student activism and the students ought to be defended by any means necessary. And to do this (advance your treacherous agenda) Fezile, you go short of declaring an obituary on student activism “In fact, I have long been convinced that the state of student formations in our country has somewhat degenerated and many, if not all, of the student formations have now become a shadow of their former self and as a result are either found deficient or sinking altogether.”. Surprisingly Fez, you seek to convince us that you have LONG BEEN AWARE of the slow decline of student activism a little less than 2 years when you were the Chairperson of the SASCO CUT Bloemfontein Branch and subsequently its deployee in the SRC Academic Office. Furthermore Fez, you lament at what you see as “Student fanaticism from modern-day student leaders that seems to have lost meaning and degenerated only to be used as a buzz word and a label for some cool politico.” I am not certain whether the use of fanaticism instead of activism is/was a deliberate or was a genuine oversight from your part; however what remains an eyesore to me, is how absolved are you as part of these “modern-day” student leaders? Has the rejection that the students of CUT inflicted upon you by electing someone else as their choice of representative elevated you to be an arm-chair critic of their preferred choice?

Fezile, you make an indictment on the degeneration of student activism and go on to express the “melancholic” state it has left you, yet you do not substantiate this claim. You simply make reference of the expulsion and reasons or lack thereof, of the #CUT12 as a major premise of your claim. You have not demonstrated how this “student fanaticism” has seemed to have lost meaning except being a buzz word for some cool politico (whatever that means). This failure on your part to substantiate and demonstrate your point, proves that your veiled attacks at “student fanaticism” is actually an attack on those the student masses elected last August. This is proven by your outrages claim “This sad reality is further deepened by how feebly modern-day student formations run their affairs.”, because Fezile, just over a year ago before your expulsion, you were a member of one of these feebly-run student formations. This is further compounded by your failure to show exactly what are these “gutter politics” that you see to have engulfed our student milieu.

Fezile, if we are to believe all your lamentations in spite of the shabby evidence or lack thereof, it would then mean that your election as both Chairperson of a SASCO Branch and the SRC Academic Officer were as a result of the “gutter politics” engulfing our student milieu, that you are by and large, a product of a degenerated student activism and fanaticism that has become a buzz word for some cool politico. The degeneration has to account for your absurd commentary on both FB that you had the right to speak on a national radio as a leader of a coalition you led and that why it is justified that the 12 CUT student leaders ought to be expelled, because they have “failed”, not because they are guilty of contravening the rules. The gutter politics should account why you saw fit to publicly pass on judgement over the performance of student leadership you neither elected nor mandated.

Fezile, you and I served in the SRC 2012/13 and simultaneously led an intervention on the unfair assessment writing BMR 20 and 30CB students were compelled to write despite the University not actualizing its promises and dignifying our agreement. We both sit here, knowing that our intervention contravened set rules and regulations, yet we were not labelled as marauding gang of students, despite our intervention not being peaceful too. It is disingenuous of you to sit wherever you are sitting, as a HEAD OF A COALITION THAT LOST ELECTIONS, to speak of “gutter politics” engulfing our student milieu and the “degeneration” of student formations, when you too, over a year ago, did exactly, what they did this year, which is halt whatever processes that were taking place because their grievances had not be properly and satisfactorily handled. Fezile, Mr Head of a Coalition do not dare sacrifice our hard-earned right for student activism and governance that came as a result of genuine sacrifice and political action, at the altar of patronage and self-glorification.

Behind your deceitful attacks lies the depoliticisation of student governance and activism agenda. Current student leaders are all in agreement that, student activism has struggled to readapt itself over the changing HE landscape and that it should continuously reassess and find ways to remain relevant in the current context, no matter how obscure it is. However the January protests were not as a result of the problems with student activism but as a result of the paralysis of relations between student leadership and the University. You’d know well, as one student leader reminded you that, at the heart of students’ frustrations lies a bureaucratic system and indifferent students’ services administration, that has seen numerous student leadership submissions at CUT, remain relegated to the periphery. How many times has the student body converged to amend its constitution and we are yet to see a fully consolidated and functional SRC Constitution? Do you know about the shuttle service especially for the Welkom Campus that has continued to be ignored? Despite lack of residences at that Campus and numerous reports of student falling victims to crime on their way to and from campus, not to mention the gruesome murder of one of our students in 2009. Students that have not embarked on a massive protest like the one early this year, whom as you claim are part of a “of a diverse and vibrant community of students and staff along with an open dialogue which is a hallmark that has characterised our university since your ascendance of the VC,” would not just one day, after so many years, fall victim to “gutter politics” and “student fanaticism” by choosing to halt registration processes. If indeed since the ascendance of the incumbent, there has been a “culture of open and robust dialogue”, why would the current SRC and the student masses that supported them, decide to embark on the sort of programme that unfolded early this year? Are we then to assume that you see their actions as part of the “political bullies that tried to impeach the VC in 2012?” Should we assume that student activism, whose constituent element is demonstration, and which in itself is an inherent part of the academic community of the University, as part of the “sinister agendas” that seek to oust our very “first young black VC”? Doesn’t the abrupt protest give us a different reading to how we perceive and treat our students? Have you ever stopped to think that if indeed there is a degeneration of the student formations, it is due to a deliberate attempt by the University to code “politics” as terrorism through frustrating, suppression and intimidation of student leadership? After all Fezile, it is under the tenure of the incumbent that we have been told innumerate time that politics are no longer relevant. Perhaps Fezile, since 2012, the University suffers not only from the “hysteria” it has always suffered from with regard to student activism, but also from acute paranoia, thus labels anything that challenges “authority” and its failings, as an agenda to “politically bully” our “first young black VC”.

Fezile, you letter is quite repulsive not least because it lauds the VC for expelling (your words) 12 CUT students, but precisely because it celebrates the ostracizing of 12 young lives for daring to air their frustrations in the only manner they best know how, especially on the face of indifferent university administration over issues that are of significance to them as students. Fezile, it is evident that you neither have a will to contribute nor know on how student activism and governance ought to be like in the 21st Century, post-political apartheid South Africa, in fact, you are simply interested in getting back at those that ousted you from SASCO and subsequently emerged victorious against your coalition at the 2013/14 SRC Elections.

I am tempted to engage you right here right now on what are the weaknesses of our student activism and governance, as well as the trappings the HE system has put in place to not only frustrate but also destroy student activism and the genuine agenda it exists for and seeks to advance. It is however unfortunate that I cannot, simply because you have inadvertently become a bitter young man thus a spokesperson of the class enemies of the strata that is full of the parents of the very same students you are openly attacking under the auspices of daring to be “young, free and opinionated.”. That you hold the right to air your views under no duress is a known and accepted fact, but one that shall not go unchallenged especially when it seeks to buttress the continuous crushing of genuine student voices and their hopes. Incidentally, Fez, this serves as not the only first time that I warn you of the trappings of patronage, especially at the sacrifice of breaking with your own generation, a lesson that many a wise men know very well.

You remain gifted I suppose as we are all born to manifest in the glory of God and I do hope and pray that you soon discard your delusions of grandeur and most importantly, you let go of the bitterness you still hold against SASCO and its members.

Kind regards
Lerato “Che” Lephatsa