The South African Students Congress (SASCO) held a National General Council from 26th of June 01st July 2018 at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), KwaZulu Natal Province. The NGC was charged with the responsibility to review SASCO policies, assess and evaluate the work of the 20th National Congress NEC. The NGC was attended by 1000 delegates representing branches of SASCO across all institutions of higher learning.
The NGC received the NECs extensive Political Report, Organisational and Financial Update. The reports were considered and debated together with the discussion documents in commissions and plenary. Delegates discussed at length the challenges facing our glorious movement and students in general, sending a clear message that without a strong and united SASCO, the future of the sector and students is bleak.
Consistent with SASCO’s tradition of self-reflection and self-correction, the NGC was characterised by frank, robust and fearless debates among delegates. At the centre of such debates were mutual respect and the willingness to influence and be influenced without intimidation. The NGC re-affirmed that SASCO gatherings must at all material times be characterised by high level of intellectual debates.
Council welcomed the forthright manner in which the reports outlined the challenges and weaknesses that plague our movement currently and the bold action required to confront and overcome them. The NGC noted and accepted the court ruling on the matter between SASCO and Lwando Majiza and Lwando Magqishi.
Accordingly, Council adopted the Political, Organisational and Financial reports. All matters of detail raised by delegates in various commissions and plenary were referred to the NEC for follow-up. Amongst other things the NGC discussed and resolved on the following:
On Organisation development and Renewal
Much time was spent developing a common theoretical basis and identifying the course of action that must be undertaken to take forward the resolution of the NEC to Renew, Modernize and Reposition SASCO. In essence, the programme entails preservation of the movements character, culture and values in a changing context and new conditions of struggle.
The NGC appreciated the NECs work in developing the discussion documents on Organisational Renewal, Discipline and preserving the Organisational Culture as an important step towards a renewed SASCO. Going forward, the council resolved that the NEC needs a concrete plan to strengthen internal democracy and improve on our systems in order to avoid court battles.
Delegates overwhelmingly agreed that the NGC must go down in history as the gathering that marked a decisive turning point in tackling, arresting and reversing the negative tendencies that have eroded and threaten to erode the political integrity and moral standing of SASCO among students.
The NGC has to be remembered as the gathering that went beyond condemning misbehaviour such as ill-discipline and factionalism. From now onwards, decisive action has to be taken by the leadership and membership to renew our movement and fight tenaciously against any tendencies that seek to erode the founding principles and core values of SASCO.
The NGC noted with great concern the administrative weaknesses and failures of the national disciplinary committee to enforce discipline amongst the NEC members. Further noted that full-time officials of SASCO must at all material times dedicate their energy and time towards the work of the organization, permanent absenteeism on the work of the organization has severely harmed and weakened SASCO’s fighting capacity. Also noting parallel, incoherent and divisive statements released by some officials. NGC was extremely enraged by the behaviour of SASCO SG and DSG who attended plenary and then decided to stay outside the plenary venue whilst the NGC was in progress.
After a long and exhaustive discussion, the NGC resolved unanimously, with no objections to remove the Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General and the Deputy President. Further tasked the NEC to convene and fill vacancies and thereafter submit its recommendations to the NGC, the NEC sat and resolved by the absolute majority that Luyanda Tenge becomes Deputy President, Moipone Mhlongo becomes Secretary-General and Simphiwe Joja becomes Deputy Secretary General. The NEC then submitted its recommendations to the NGC, subsequently the NGC overwhelming and unanimously accepted and affirmed the NEC recommendation with no objections.
NGC believe that unity remains the bedrock upon which the vision and objectives of SASCO were laid on. In this regard, Council further called for exemplary conduct, steadfast leadership and decisive action on the part of the NEC in rooting out factionalism and divisive tendencies within the ranks of SASCO.
Accordingly, we emerge from this NGC with a renewed determination, resolve and tenacity to cultivate and restore the core values and founding principles of SASCO – unity, selfless and steadfast commitment to serve students, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work, internal debates, constructive criticism and self-criticism and mutual respect.
The General Council concurs with the NEC that for renewal to succeed, it requires a leadership that is resilient, courageous, principled and decisive; committed cadre-ship and politically conscious membership; urgent steps will need to be taken by the movement as whole to organise all students (Clubs and Societies) towards the renewal programme of SASCO in order to reclaim lost ground and hegemony.
The NGC reaffirmed the centrality of the branch and the importance of grassroots activism in ensuring that renewal succeeds. Branches constitute the foundation and basic unit of the organization and they have to be much stronger and more rooted in and connected to students if our movement is to survive as the progressive force for change and trusted servant of the students. The NGC, therefore, resolved that political education becomes a constitutional requirement for all branches. The NGC also resolved on improving campaign strategy of SASCO, branches of SASCO must be directed to do programmes every week. The recruitment drive must be accompanied by a massive political education campaign in every branch to ensure that all the new members understand the basic history, core values and principles of SASCO.
The NGC holds a firm view that political education is the cornerstone of the renewal programme. Council appreciated the steps taken by the NEC to institutionalise the political school at a national level. The NEC should ensure that further work is undertaken to roll out a political education programme across the country at provincial, regional, branch level and monitor strict adherence. The NEC was directed to release a clear and coherent political education syllabus.
On Media and Communications
The NGC noted that the organization’s communication is ineffective and poorly coordinated. The NGC reaffirmed the power of social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter. The NGC further noted that the New media and digitisation provides opportunities for enhancing SASCO communication.
Therefore the NGC resolved that SASCO needs to make creative use of a range of mechanisms to communicate with the widest spectrum of students. SASCO Cadres should utilise the existing space provided by alternative and community media in the battle of ideas. The NGC directed the NEC to adopt effective communication strategies and interventions should also be introduced at all structures of the organisation.
On Gender-Based Violence and Campus safety
The NGC noted with grave concern the inhuman and barbaric acts of violence and discrimination against women and the LGBTQI communities in both our campuses and communities. The recent killing, rape and assault of students on campuses is clear indication of a backwardness society, where women are viewed as secondary beings.
The NGC reaffirms the principle of SASCO of non-sexism and it’s commitment towards building a non-sexist society as one of the strategic programmes. NGC hold the firm view that the struggle for the total liberation of women is a collective responsibility of the entire movement to realize the goal of a society wherein issues of gender, class and race are no more the define features of the society as enshrined in the NDR.
The NGC resolved that the NEC must roll out a programme of action that seeks to root out discrimination and violence against women and LGBTQI in our campuses. The NGC also resolved on running student-centered awareness campaign against the scourge. As part of the Political education programme, gender struggle should be at the core in order to empower women and our members in general.
On Higher Education
The NGC noted that Education is by, its nature a tool towards the liberation of a person and the society in general. Education has a liberation effect and it inspires the spirit hope in communities that through it there will be development and civilisation. The NGC further noted and welcomed progress on implementation of fee-free education as pronounced in December last year. The NGC holds a firm view that the current education system is enclaved in the jaws of the capitalist system thus producing job seekers instead of job producers.
The TVET sector
The NGC reaffirmed SASCO’s position on making TVET colleges institutions of choice albeit the current challenges we faced with. TVET colleges are a bedrock and at the centre of skills development for the economy. The NGC amongst other things resolved to:
- That Government must Improve the quality of all courses in the TVET and quality of teaching;
- Improve governance and management in colleges;
- Discover and strengthen the links between FET Colleges and the SETAs for improved placement for learners in workplaces;
- Improve infrastructure (accommodation and lecture venues);
- Curriculum review;
- The government must review the role state-owned enterprises in skills development and training, and building partnerships between the state, parastatals and the private sector in the quest to improve skills.
The NGC still hold a view that institutional autonomy remains an enemy of our revolution. Access to quality education still borders on racial lines, where money talks.
The NGC resolved to call for:
- The standardization of APS points in order to ensure equal access in higher institutions.
- The scrapping of application fees on CAO Curriculum
The NGC noted that the curriculum is embedded and determine by the markets as opposed to the needs of the society. The current curriculum produces unemployable and is not in line with government targets. Therefore NGC resolved that SASCO NEC must meet with progressive trade unions in both the public and private sector to draft a clear a perspective on curriculum development. The NGC also resolved to call for the accelerated introduction of entrepreneurial programmes in all institutions of higher learning.
The NGC noted with grave concern the appalling conditions in our residences particularly in the TVET sector and historical disadvantage institutions. Believing that conducive student accommodation and safe environment propels students towards success. Accordingly, the NGC reaffirmed SASCO’s commitment towards the establishment of student villages.
Inline with parliament resolution on Land expropriation without compensation, SASCO will run a campaign on “My Land My Accommodation”, this campaign will be directed to Ministry of Human Settlements, Public Works and Municipalities calling for land to be made available for the building of student villages.
The NGC noted with concern the price fixing across all institutions. Food prices are skyrocketed without condemnation. Acts of Corruption by TVET directors and university managers who run our institutions as their stokvel and dictate on which service provider to be appointed has compromised the lives of students on campuses on different accounts. The NGC resolved that SASCO must work closely with trade unions and run a campaign on clean governance in both TVETs and Universities.
The NGC holds a firm view that this institution has failed the poor and working-class students. Delays on issuing of allowances (transport, meals, and book allowances) have negatively affected students. The Council resolved that this institution lacks leadership, supervision and lack the political will to improve its services, the council also noted the attempt to collapse the institution in order to hand it over to the big corrupt banks.
The NGC thus resolved to call for the dissolution of the NSFAS board to ensure effectiveness and good governance of the institution. Also, the NGC calls on DHET to ensure that NSFAS line is toll-free.
Right To Work Program and Employ a graduate program.
The NGC reaffirmed its right to learn campaign programme as a strategic programme to ensure students coming from poor and working-class backgrounds get access to education. Accordingly, the NGC noted that SASCO has not concerned itself about the output of its campaign.
The NGC also noted the recent unemployment stats, wherein 7% of the 32% of unemployment rate accounts for graduates. This percentage is going up instead of dropping down. Therefore the NGC resolved to lead a campaign on Right To Work Campaign and employ graduate campaign. Also, lead a campaign on scrapping of work experience requirement on entry post.
International Solidarity Work
NGC resolved that the NEC must use the advantage of the BRICS summit held in South Africa to meet and share experiences with other student leaders from BRICS countries.
NGC directed the NEC to revive all relations that SASCO enjoyed with student leaders in the continent. SWAYOCO, ZINASU and SASU. The NGC noted South African students are unequivocal in their unanimous support for the Palestinian struggle against Israeli Apartheid and are champions of the BDS boycott of Israel on our campuses. The NGC further noted that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people has only but increased. Most recently, on the 14th of May 2018, for example, Israel killed more than 60 people on a single day. Several of those that were killed were students and children.
Therefore the NGC resolved as follows:
To reiterate our position that any member or deployees who accepts a propaganda trip to Israel or gift of any sort from the Israeli lobby and its organisations should consider their membership terminated with immediate effect.
That all SRCs at institutions of higher learning that are led or have SASCO representation should, following the national and international trend, adopt a resolution in support of the BDS academic boycott of Israel until it abides by international law.
That SASCO at all institutions of higher learning should campaign and advocate for their institution, as an institution, to adopt, respect and support the academic boycott of Israel as has occurred most recently at the Tshwane University of Technology.
To call on the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to immediately implement the governing party’s resolution for the “unconditional” downgrade of the SA Embassy in Israel to a liaison office until Israel respects international law.
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