Released on South Africa’s Human Rights Day, 21st March 2016
Student protests for free education are no different from service delivery protests that characterises South Africa’s failing state. Free Education is a promise that must be kept, just like free housing, and the return of the land. These are the promises of the ANC that must be kept. A promise is a promise. Students want Free Education as promised by the ANC. People living in shacks want free housing as promised by the ANC. People want land as promised by the ANC. 21 years of democracy should have been enough for the ANC to fulfill these promises. There will be relentless protest action, until all these promises are met; it is inevitable, and evident before our eyes, that these protests will never end until all these promises have been met.
This report is an attempt to document the 2015/16-student rebellion as it unfolded at the University of Western Cape. It is not a mainstream research report, or commentary, nor a journalistic account of what happened on each day of the students’ protest but more of a high-level intelligence report of the UWC Fees Will Fall Movement. The report tells the story from the students’ perspective and glorifies the national Fees Must Fall students’ movement as a timely effort in the history of our democracy, against the backdrop of political contradictions such as corruption that has evidently swayed the attention of former liberation fighters from self-sell service to the people, to self-interests, and luxurious living against the backdrop of appalling poverty levels amongst the majority of black communities in many parts of the country.
This report is a gentle reminder to the ANC government of the power of young people to make progressive change. It is a gentle reminder that “the future belongs to us” (Mzwakhu Mbuli, 1986, The Day Shall Dawn). After reading this report, the ANC government of looters should cease to take for granted the intellect of the Fees Must Fall Movement. Furthermore, this report is a firm statement to erstwhile politicians such as Dr Blade Nzimande, that as young people of this country, we can no longer breathe under the leadership of current politicians who care less about the futures of younger generations, but themselves, cronies, and families. We will forever remain disgusted by wasteful expenditures of our politicians and government officials best manifested in the Zuma administration of looters, sycophants and mafias in bed with the ANC. The looting of state coffers by sycophants is completely unacceptable given the poverty levels in our country. As students we argue that there is enough taxpayers money to fund Free Education. Right wing economists know this very well, but will never admit that Free Education is possible because they stand to benefit from the capitalist system that continues to fail our black communities, the poorest of the poor in townships of the Cape Flats, rural communities, rural towns, urban slums, and former homelands throughout the country. The fact is, our current government is failing to use the state in benefit of the people; instead the state has turned against its own people, through institutionalized violence, especially directed to those who take it to the street in protest for better service delivery. Free Education is service delivery, as this report will show.
This report is divided into 8 chapters as follows:
Chapter 1: “Narrow conceptions of violence: student rebellion lenses” challenges narrow conceptions of violence in the context of emancipatory politics, which strongly condemns ongoing police brutality in South Africa, against the backdrop of human rights enshrined in the constitution of the Republic of South Africa. This chapter shows some images of institutionalized violence which is manifested in police brutality – some of the pictures are extremely gruesome, and have been excluded from this report for ethical reasons, but available on request, and consent of the victims of police brutality.
Chapter 2: “Criminalization of student protest action” connects the struggles of students to popular dissent in the country at large such as the infamous Marikana mineworker strike action for example, and municipal service delivery protests, including the killing of Andries Tatane by the state police in 2011. Andries Tatane will forever be our hero because he openly challenged the government of the ANC, and paid the high price for it, death.
Chapter 3: “Politics of victimization, humiliation and paranoia”, draws the attention of the reader to what seems like authoritarian practices of the South African state in its attempts to dampen popular dissent by targeting key individuals (or so-called ring leaders) or those who appear as key allies to protestors in general, and student protestors in particular.
Chapter 4: “Eviction of students from on-campus residences: The politics of racialised geographies” is an attempt to lay bare the racial underpinnings of the eviction of students from UWC residence in November – December 2015. This chapter takes the reader through some history of racialised socio-spatial engineering of the past racist regimes, and how such narrow thinking has been a painful residue or hangover inherited from apartheid, and how it shaped conceptions against the UWC Fees Will Fall Movement.
Chapter 5: “SASCO, ANC & Politics of independence in the (black) student movement” is an attempt to lay bare the political contradictions of SASCO, and how that student movement has been co-opted by the ANC. We argue that there is no SASCO, but the ANC, and we explain why we strongly believe so.
Chapter 6: “Militarisation of UWC by state and private security forces” uses UWC as a lens to raise questions about the nature of our state, and the nature of our democracy in the age of surveillance of activists by our paranoid state.
Chapter 7: “The politics of containment: Anti-student rebellion negotiations”, takes the reader through the negotiation processes that occurred between UWC Fees Will Fall Movement and UWC Management from November – December 2015. In a nutshell, this chapter argues that such negotiations were merely attempts of containment of the UWC Fees Will Fall Movement by UWC Management.
Chapter 8: Workers’ struggle against outsourcing at UWC: “The beginning of the end”, takes the reader through the efforts of UWC workers’ struggle for the end of outsourcing, which coincided with the 2015/16 student rebellion in that university. This chapter explains how these efforts reached a deadlock when it became apparent that there are strong allegations of (undeclared) self-interest, and collusion (if not corruption) between some members of UWC management and the outsourced companies at UWC. Chapter 8 concludes with a proposal for investigative journalism to probe into these allegations of undeclared conflict of interests and collusion between some UWC personnel in the upper echelons of the university, and outsourced companies which have “shareholding” links implicating some of the most influential political leaders of the ANC, such as Cyril Ramaphosa. Chapter 8 makes it vividly clear that the dynamics that unfolded at the Marikana massacre were invoked at UWC, it terms of very similar political contradictions that are laid bare by this chapter in particular.
Please click link to download full report: Student Rebellion Counter Narrative UWC_Final Draft_ 21 March 2016