24 December 2011
The year 2011 marked the 20th Anniversary of the biggest and most influential student political organisation in South Africa - the South African Students Congress (SASCO). For the past 20 years, SASCO has led courageous and heroic struggles with and in defence of our people. Had it not been for SASCO many students would not have accessed higher education and further training. We will never forsake our struggle to transform higher education and further training; and society in general.
The triple crises of unemployment, poverty and inequality have deepened in 2011. Our government declared 2011 as a Year for Job Creation but, in reality, 2011 has turned out to be a year for job losses. In 2011, there were more job losses than job creation. We believe that the neo-liberal development trajectory is largely responsible for the regressive socio-economic situation in our country. We hope that in 2012, our government will abandon its neo-liberal development path and adopt an egalitarian development path as the one and only sustainable way to address unemployment, poverty and inequality.
South Africa remains a country where poverty and opulence exists side-by-side. The poor continue to bear the scars of financial exclusions in institutions of higher learning, unemployment, poverty. Our country remains a global leader in social inequality with its current gini coefficient standing at 0.72. This shows that South Africa is gradually drifting towards perfect inequality. In 2012, government must commit itself to a meaningful programme for wealth redistribution and social justice. Nationalisation of the mines and other commanding heights of the economy MUST form an integral component of this programme.
The fact that we won most SRC elections in most institutions of higher learning and further training in 2011 demonstrates the growing political relevance and strength of SASCO in this sector. The most important task for all our capable and competent SRC deployees is to deliver on all promises made to students. We note with serious concern the tendency by the ANC YL and YCL to contest SASCO during SRC elections. SASCO will not be undermined or replaced by any organisation in our primary terrain of struggle. In 2012, we will be more resolute on our incontestable conviction that higher education and further training remains our primary terrain of political struggle.
In 2011, we witnessed an extra-ordinary renewed energy on the part of managements of most institutions of higher learning to intimidate and victimise student leaders, particularly SASCO cadres Victimisation and intimidation of student activists is one of the gnawing political challenges of our time. Whereas this is not a new phenomenon, the naked despotism displayed by managements of our institutions to silence dissent through abuse of institutional power remains a great concern. In 2012, we will continue to ferociously challenge the criminalisation of mass protests and dissent on our campuses.
In 2011, we witnessed the conversion of final year NSFAS packages into bursaries and the provision of free education to NSFAS funded students in the FET colleges. This is supposed to be the first salvo in the so-called progressive realisation of free education yet we do not know what and when is a next phase. Other countries in the Global South have introduced free education or other radical versions of higher education subsidies; among these countries are Botswana, Sri Lanka, Cuba etc. As SASCO we have declared 2012 as a year for heightened mass mobilisation in demand for free higher education for ALL.
Politically, 2012 will be an eventful year. The year 2012 marks the 100th Anniversary of our African National Congress (ANC). We congratulate the ANC for this great achievement and hope that it remains a powerful political force it is for the many years to come. On 8 January 2012, SASCO will be joining the ANC in Mangaung to celebrate the 100 years of relentless and selfless struggle for national liberation and socio-economic emancipation. We will also form part of other planned ANC 100th Anniversary celebratory events.
The SACP, COSATU and ANC will also convene their national congresses in 2012. We will attend all Congresses of our allies to enrich discussions and advance our policy perspectives. We wish our allies all the best with their policy and elective congresses in 2012 and hope that they come out with resolutions that would help us advance the National Democratic Revolution. Consistent with our long held tradition, SASCO will NOT make any pronouncements on leadership preference towards elective Congresses of the any of our allies. However, we will continue to persuade them on policy perspectives. SASCO members and leaders will express their leadership and other preferences in their own capacities as members of these organisations. SASCO will not allow to be drawn into factional battles of our allies on leadership preferences.
We take this opportunity to extend our best wishes to all matriculants who are awaiting their matric results. In the beginning of 2012, SASCO will launch its Right to Learn Campaign in all our branches. We urge all prospective students not to hesitate to visit or contact our branch offices for assistance with academic related queries. No student must be excluded because they do not have money to buy education. As SASCO we will ensure that student services and academic support are improved in all institutions of higher learning and further training. In 2012, we will continue to fight against the commoditisation of education.
We wish all our esteemed members, students and everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. We, the working class, will use the festive season to garner strength as we prepare for the battle field in 2012. We must be prepared to continue fighting for free education for all, decent work, basic services, against corruption, modern slavery (labour brokers) etc. Let's celebrate responsibly and cognisant of the challenges and tasks as we prepare for the New Year. Let's not drink and drive - Arrive Alive!
Ngoako Selamolela, SASCO President: 071 875 2224 email@example.com
Themba Masondo, SASCO Secretary General, 079 199 3421 firstname.lastname@example.org