The Red sea and Moses, that is where we are – OPINION


NTANDO SINDANE


 

“Sindane, sing”, the comrade nudges. Six months ago I would, without a shred of hesitation, blurt out into song and have all comrades follow when I proudly chant ukuthi “i-Insourcing iyasebenzelwa” but today, an excuse springs up; “Ai mina macom my throat is sore, futhi I’m not feeling too well.”

That is precisely what happens when self-doubt creeps in. Suddenly, you stop doing things that you are good at and ultimately you disengage from the struggle, or this is at least what I think. On the eve of my 23rd birthday in the year 2015 we began staging rolling mass actions in all of Unisa’s campuses countrywide demanding that the university abolish the privatisation of labour of the most exploited class or sector of black workers (or what social media has correctly coined #OutsourcingMustFall ).

Although there have been strategic victories to date, many of which I am personally proud of; there have been setbacks too. The major setback is that close to 200 black security guards and cafeteria workers have since been fired by their respective employers owing to their participation in the mass action. The latter (29) were sacked recently by Fedics catering services after they (the exploited black workers) refused to be moved to a workstation outside of Unisa premises with the correct argument that moving them away from Unisa will prevent them from benefitting from insourcing when the day arrives. They have been in the cold and without a job for over a month now. The former (+-189), were sacked by Red Alert Security and Cleaning Company for allegedly participating in violent activities.

Their matter is worse because they have been without a job since March this year (6 months). Apart from these comrades who have been fired, there are still many comrades who work other outsourced service providers contracted by Unisa who continue to be victimized in the most painful way you can imagine. Today the date is 22nd of September 2016 and not a single worker has been insourced. Not even one.

This is against the backdrop of having been subjected to the university’s disciplinary committee on two separate occasions and getting arrested a total of 3 times between the period of January and April whilst protesting on campus. In between we have been physically beaten by the newly contracted tactical reaction unit of military-like security whom we are told were brought in by management solely to “deal with” us. We have had endless meetings with technocrats of the university at a forum of stakeholders tasked with looking into the implementation of insourcing.

These meetings have not yielded any tangible result. We have tabled proposal after proposal and all of them have been rejected by both executive management and as well as university council. The most recent rejection was perhaps the most heart-breaking. Here the chairperson of council, Mr Sakhi Simelane labelled our proposal for insourcing as one that “doesn’t make business sense.” Excuse me for sounding bitter but for the better part of this struggle for insourcing we have been at pains to explain to everybody, and especially to the powers that be in the university, that our calls for Insourcing is a call for social justice and redress, for him to come and claim that it doesn’t make business sense confirms that we might have failed in showing them that the current set-up exposes the black child to the crudest form of exploitation.

I will not even speak about sour relations between myself and the vice-chancellor, Professor Mandla Makhanya. It is safe to say that his poor conduct and lack of leadership from the first day of protests to date has been devastatingly underwhelming. I have lost all respect I used to have for the man. There is nothing black or liberational or working class about him. When his people needed him to step in and provide solutions, he remained aloof and allowed things to spiral out of control by opting to support the sacking and purging of many of those who raised the flag for the quest to insource.

It was going to be better to be at crossroads because there at least you still have the choice between different roads to take. With crossroads, the emotion that creeps up is confusion and perhaps even a bit of tension among the travellers but with the Red Sea situation, the emotion that rears its ugly head is that of self-doubt. Recall that Moses, in leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and upon hearing that Pharaoh’s army was charging not far behind them, had the option of two roads and because of reasons known to him, he chose the narrow road which was unknown to everybody, including himself. This road was the one that finally led them to the Red Sea.

The situation on the beach was that of doom and gloom because the entire group knew that they were stuck. On the one hand, if they turn back they will definitely be recaptured and perhaps even killed by Pharaoh’s men and on the other hand, the sea in its vastness stood in front of them and without sails and ferries, there was no way for them to cross over into the next dry land. Put yourself in the shoes of Moses, imagine his anguish, imagine his pain, imagine his sombre loneliness at the sight of hundreds of thousands of Israelites who are looking at him for all the answers, imagine and abstractly rebuild Moses’ psychology. That is exactly where we are!

Of course, at a later stage, God intervened and the Red Sea miraculously opened. The children of Israel entered and the rest is history. Because we are activist who are guided by the revolutionary spirit of Onkgopotse Tiro, Tsietsi Mashinini, Steve Biko and other stalwarts of our struggle, we know that the Red Sea at Unisa will eventually open up and the toiling masses of our people will walk onto dry land.

The self-doubt and all the emotions that come with the Red Sea moment will not lead us into despondency. Like a phoenix from the ashes, we owe it to ourselves to rise above and continue waging the struggle with the same attitude, drive and willpower as we have been since November 2015.

Manzi vuleka singene!

* Sindane is a member of the EFF Student Command (EFFSC) and  a student activist. He is a final year LLB Student and an African Communist.

TIT FOR TAT: YCLSA rips into Zuma over Fees Must Fall

Young Communist League National Secretary, MLULEKI DLELANGA says: “What we need right now is principled and not factionally selective responsibility shouldering as collective responsibility when we are cost votes by a leader’s recklessness in cases such as Nkandla.”


 

Dear President Zuma,

Receive revolutionary greetings from the YCLSA, a component of the PYA which the ANCYL is part of. We write this open letter to address you President Zuma but also to respond to the opportunistic open letter of the SG of the ANCYL which he wrote to Comrade Blade Nzimande the GS of SACP and an NWC member of the ANC who serves as Minister of Higher Education. The SG we believe chose to isolate Comrade Blade Nzimande because he does not believe in collective responsibility when it suits him. This is seen in his selection of words where he continuously uses ‘’I’’ but at the same time writing his letter on Logos of the ANCYL. We will however not dwell much on him but address the question of Free Quality higher education for the Poor.

President Zuma, you were elected in the watershed Congress of 2007 which resolved on free quality education for the poor. You became President of the Country and until today your collective has not been able to deliver on the mandate given to them by Congress. We will remember you as a President who failed to deliver Free quality education for the poor under his leadership. Therefore, if there is anyone to blame it must be yourself Comrade President together with your collective and not isolate the Minister of Higher education alone like he is a door bouncer of Free Quality Education. You need to be honest President and clarify your ANCYL on this fact.

President Zuma, in terms of the South African Constitution, the President is the executive authority of the State. Unless the President in his capacity ensures that sufficient resources are made available to the department of higher education, the department will continue to be constrained. As a matter of fact, state subsidy to Universities has declined substantially over the years. To personalise this and try and make it a problem of Minister Nzimande is to be factional. The factional agenda that is calculated to exploit the situation in higher education to isolate Nzimande will not succeed because South African Youths and students are not fools. President Zuma, we will tell South African Youth that Comrade Nzuza the SG of the ANCYL of the ANC, a party which has failed to deliver free education to the poor is an excited factional proxy who wants to advance factional battles against Nzimande using a genuine call of students for no fee increment for 2017 and Free Education for the poor. We will not allow your Nzuza to hijack our struggle for free education like the third forces did during the fees must fall protests.

READ: ANCYL tells Nzimande 0% fee increase now – OPEN LETTER

President Zuma, Nzuza should have written to you if he cares about our poor students because it is you who established the Presidential Commission on Fees instead of declaring free education. Our Call has been clear as the YCLSA that money must be made available through fiscus adjustments to fund no fee increment for the 2017 academic year. This call needs you as the head of government and all your departments to make the necessary adjustments. It can’t be a burden of Minister Nzimande alone. Comrade Blade Nzimande as the leader of the SACP is not opposed to the Zero fee increment, he is Infact for the progressive implementation of free quality education for the poor and the children of the working class.

President Zuma, in the meetings your ANC NEC Subcommittee on Education convened of which you were part of one of those meetings, we made it clear as the YCLSA in those meetings that we need changes in taxation and repriotisation of funds to finance social transformation in the form of a progressive rollout of free education for the poor, comprehensive social security and so on. We insisted on the urgent need to make private sector to cover the cost of education for the coming academic year. We need decisive action driven from the Centre of state authority to introduce these changes and ensure radical economic transformation and free quality education. What we need right now is principled and not factionally selective responsibility shouldering as collective responsibility when we are cost votes by a leader’s recklessness in cases such as Nkandla.

READ ALSO: Zuma’s 0% fee increase halted as v-chancellors demand 8% increase

The YCLSA invites the ANCYL of the ANC to join the Minister’s call to parliament that South Africa must tax the rich and the wealthy to fund education for the poor. We as the YCLSA are inviting the clueless open letter writing SG of your league President to join us in mobilizing the private sector and stop being factional. The private sector consumes the education and skills produced by our education and training system but it is not prepared to come on board and very little is visible from the Centre of the state authority to bring the private sector on board through a graduated wealth tax. So if there is anyone who is gatekeeping and delaying the implementation of Free quality education, it is yourself President Zuma and we are sad that your ANCYL is blind to these facts we raise. The YCLSA says stop the tricks, don’t play and gamble with the future of our students through factional point scoring and implement free quality education for the Poor.

BY THE YCLSA

NS MLULEKI DLELANGA

ANCYL tells Nzimande 0% fee increase now – OPEN LETTER

This is an open letter to SACP General Secretary and Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande written by ANCYL Secretary-General Njabulo Nzuzo.


Revolutionary Greetings

I hope this letter finds you well,

I have taken a decision to write you this open letter, because I can see that all the private discussions we have had around free education for the poor and 0% fee are not bearing fruits. The situation is dire, institutions are burning with terror and violence is used against students on campuses. Some campuses are being shut down.

I have no interest in writing you a long letter but to request you to address the following as a matter of urgency;

•Urgently implement the decision of 0% fee increment as resolution of the last NEC meeting of the ANC. Any form of increment against poor students and “the missing middle” is not acceptable and should not be considered or talked about.

•Reduce your meetings with Vice Chancellors because, instead of transforming the system they will transform you to accept the system they have built which is abusive to students. You must spend more time with students who are the endusers of higher education.

•Please refrain and avoid sending messages of doubt about the policy of the ANC on free quality education for the poor. The implementation of free quality education for the poor is not an issue that is up for discussion but for implementation with speed.

READ: TIT FOR TAT: YCLSA rips into Zuma over Fess Must Fall

I hope you will come to the realization that the issues raised are critical. I really do not expect a letter explaining the process but one would expect that the issues raised will be resolved speedily. We can no longer accept tortoise velocity in dealing with these issues.

Comradely Yours

NJABULO B NZUZA

SECRETARY GENERAL (ANC Youth League)

Zuma’s 0% fee increase halted as v-chancellors demand 8% increase

An attempt by head of state President Jacob Zuma to have a 0% fee increase for 2017’s academic year has been replaced by a vice-chancellors’ demand for an 8% increase, a report has showed on Sunday, City Press reported on Sunday that President Zuma’s bid for a 0% increase has now been replaced by university principals’ demand for an additional 8% increase to their salaries.

The paper said a senior higher education and training department source said Minister Blade Nzimande was on the matter but wanted it to be “capped at 6%”.

“I think the minister must just give in to the 8%,” the source told the Sunday national paper on 4 September.

Zuma had earlier asked for a no fee increase for students in the academic year 2017 and had, according to another report by the paper exactly two week ago, the President had told Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan “to make a provision for additional university funding to accommodate the zero percent increase for 2017”.

But on Sunday senior sources in the national office of the higher education and training department in Pretoria said there was very little difference between Nzimande’s offered 6% to vice-chancellors’ at negotiating table and theirs of 8%, according to the report.

Vice-chancellors therefore agreed this week they will not settle for anything less than 8% when they go negotiate with the employer and fee increases were certain.

(edited by ZK)

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Fees Commission coming to Mpumalanga

The Commission looking into the possibility of free tertiary educationin South Africa will conduct its next public hearing in Mpumalanga.

Spokesman Musa Ndwandwe said the public hearing will take place at theCivic Centre in Mbombela on 22 August.

“On our program we have the Council of Higher Education and Trainingas they are the ones who advise the Minister [Blade Nzimande] on 2017fees increment, so they are the people who are quite topical at thecurrent moment and we will invite the South African Student Congress(Sasco) to make representation”, Ndwandwe said.

A week ago both the EFF and Pasma student representatives withdrewfrom the Fees Commission, citing the reasons that it was a waste oftime and a “toothless circus”.

This weekthe Minister of Higher Education Dr Blade Nzimande indefinitely postponed a press conference that was scheduled to pronounce on tertiary fee adjustments for next year.

Meanwhile SASCO has threatened to shut down campuses nationwide.

Ndwandwe said the Commission invites all stakeholders to come maketheir “valued presentations, including members of the general public”.

(edited by MM)