It does not take a rocket scientist to notice and feel the blowing gale winds of change in the higher education sector, and also in the political landscape of the country as a whole. The nature of student activism has taken a fundamental reorientation. The 2015 student protests represented a revolutionary confrontation to the status-quo across all campuses in the country, where the capitalist project manifests itself even post the breakthrough of our democratic dispensation. As per the tools of analysis of Marxist-Leninism to us the paramount contradiction is a class contradiction that is precipitated by the savagery exploitation of the working class by the capitalist class. The gender contradiction is a secondary contradiction that boldly pierces beyond the traditional class-line. The Student Congress of Xola ka Nene and Claude Qavane has an obligation as the only organisation in the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) that pinpoints its terrain at university campuses in South Africa, to ferociously grapple with these contradictions which are found in the sector and overturn centuries of colonial exploitation through advocating not just for meagre reform, but a complete revolution of the system so that it reflects the dreams and aspirations of all young South Africans and be a tool used to obliterate oppression.
Historically, the South African Student Congress has always been an ideological driver and a think tank within the MDM structures alongside its ideological Siamese-twin the Young Communist League (YCL). This intellectual hegemony has ceased to exist, the nature and character of the student movement in South Africa even though electorally is dominated by SASCO through continually wining the majority of the SRC elections we contest, over the years the Student Congress has tended to outsource its fundamental ideological functions to elements that exist outside of its scope on the implementation of Free Education, although SASCO was the first student organisation in the country to declare on Free Education through its 5 March 2010 memorandum which was delivered by then SASCO President Mbulelo Mandlana and received on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education in parliament by Comrade Marius Fransman. SASCO subsequently converged in CPUT Cape Town Campus, in East London, in Mafikeng, in Nelspruit and Durban and protested for it, in later years it has failed to produce a document that can be used as a referencing point by the government. The ruling party the African National Congress (ANC) which happens to be our strategic allies in the Mass Democratic movement, historically resolved on free education at its 52nd National Congress in Polokwane. A resolution which was welcomed by the Student Congress after decades of commercialization and corporatisation of higher education in South Africa which year in year out lead to mass exclusions of academically capable student who lacked the financial muscle to enter university or to stay in this exploitative system, as years passed on the resolution amounted to nothing but false hope and these mass exclusions remained as part of the nature and character of universities as the ruling party failed drastically to exercise its legislative and executive authority, that lack of political will resulted in no radical shift in the state of higher education in the country.
As a vanguard of students that is bias towards the working class we have an obligation of jealously directing debate in a manner that will resonate with the rank and file of our constituency, opposed to outsourcing our key fundamental functions we should use our position as members of the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) to influence the policy of the African National Congress reviewing our long-held principle of contradiction and complimenting this glorious liberation movement. In the 2009 SASCO National Congress, it was resolved that the Student Congress would be a radical Marxist-Leninist organisation and to recourse Marxist-Leninism as a lens to view social realities and social contradictions in a capitalistic dominated world. In practicality this translates in building a movement that subsides the capitalist superstructure that prepares students for the exploitative conveyor-belts of labour through an antagonistic curriculum. At the Nelson Mandela University, the vanguard of students has astoundingly been quiet about the increase in Academic Point Scores (APS), this move by the university was testament that universities are production centres for capitalists who constitute the much debated White Monopoly Capital. Who merely have a paralysis of improving the labour power of every worker to diligently exploit them through the surplus value as expressed by Engels:
“Whence comes this surplus-value? It cannot come either from the buyer buying the commodities under their value, or from the seller selling them above their value. For in both cases the gains and the losses of each individual cancel each other, as each individual is in turn buyer and seller. Nor can it come from cheating, for though cheating can enrich one person at the expense of another, it cannot increase the total sum possessed by both, and therefore cannot augment the sum of the values in circulation. (…) This problem must be solved, and it must be solved in a purely economic way, excluding all cheating and the intervention of any force — the problem being: how is it possible constantly to sell dearer than one has bought, even on the hypothesis that equal values are always exchanged for equal values?”
Free Education must be implemented absolutely not just in drips and draps, things have barely changed on the ground since the pronouncement on Free Education by the office of President Jacob Zuma on the eve of the 54th National Conference of the ruling party. Widening the scope of NSFAS is not Free Education, its another way to indebt young South Africans to capitalist forces who see the demand of education by the youth as another way to maximise profit at this post-apartheid capitalistic neoliberal South Africa. We should reject everything that is not in line with our Marxist-Leninist ideological orientation and uphold the principle of access and success, as education is the only tool that can be used to fight the system that has shackled and put our people in bondage for centuries. The SASCO of Babalwa Ntabeni is the only student organisation in the country that can radically shift these power dynamics and the site of our struggle is at all higher education institutions across the country. We should remain being fearless and continue leading the student population into the right direction, and make sure Free Education is implemented successfully by the government.
By Asemahle Gwala