1 September 2013
The South African Students Congress (SASCO) successfully held its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting from 30 August to 1 September 2013 in Johannesburg at Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre, NUMSA Head Office. The NEC meeting received a presentation on the crisis at the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) by the Director General in the Department of Higher Education and Training, Cde Gwebinkundla Qonde. Amongst other issues, the NEC discussed and took resolutions on the following:
The Walter Sisulu University (WSU) situation
The NEC is utterly disgusted at the ongoing terminal crisis at the Walter Sisulu University. Workers in this University have been on strike for the past six weeks and classes have since been suspended. We are very worried that political opportunists are exploiting this situation for narrow and sectarian political interests. We are very disappointed at the inability of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DhET) to resolve this impasse.
It is unacceptable that the DhET does not have a coherent strategy in resolving this crisis. The childish contest of egos between NEHAWU and the WSU administration must come to end now-for the sake of the working class child! The WSU Administrator, Prof. van Staden, must reverse his misguided decision to temporarily close the University. We will lobby the Office of the President of South Africa to help in addressing this crisis. There is a need for a long term strategy to address the structural and systemic challenges at WSU.
Crisis of student debt
We are worried that South African students are living beyond their means and some of them are sinking in debts. A recent youth spending report conducted by the Student Village UNISA shows that student debt has tripled in the past three years and students are increasingly becoming indebted. According to the research report, the number of students with credit cards has increased from 9.5% in 2010 to 43% in 2012. Some of these students owe clothing and electronic retail stores. Universities have become easy spaces for the credit market with most banks and companies running weekly campus advertisements trying to recruit and trap students into debt.
SASCO condemns South Africa’s finance capital for enticing students to use credit so long as they receive R200 a month from their parents and guardians. The major culprits are the Barclay’s ABSA with 40% of student debt followed by Standard Bank with 32% of the total student debt. These banks and other credit providers are deliberately providing unprotected credit to students who default in payments and end up being blacklisted. SASCO calls upon South African students to resist temptation of buying goods and services on credit whilst they know they do not have capacity to repay. We will embarked on a nation-wide campaign against these capitalist vultures (banks) and liberate our students from debt.
Research output in the previously black institutions
The NEC noted that the university sector is faced with challenges emanating from the history of racially segregated higher education system built on racial supremacy. We believe that the inability of previously black universities to increase research output is partly linked to legacy of the apartheid’s racist ideology of separate development. The previously black universities and the two new universities must be given sufficient financial and academic support to become centres for research and innovation. We encourage students, particularly SASCO members, to pursue post-graduate studies, remain in academia and produce new ideas and knowledge.
Resolve the challenges in the FET sector
We are concerned about the persistent challenges in the FET sector. SASCO has led a number of student’s protests in the recent past in some colleges such as the South West Gauteng College and Tshwane North College (Soshanguve Campus). Amongst the major challenges in colleges includes maladministration, corruption, poor academic architecture, lack of proper and adequate academic support, delayed release of students exam results, corruption in NSFAS, victimisation of student leaders etc. We call upon the DhET to stop the rhetoric and deal with the challenges in this sector. Students ought to be involved and consulted on the turnaround strategies of the colleges. DhET must not only rely on reports of assessors sent to investigate colleges. The Department must visit colleges to have a first-hand and thorough information on the state of the FET sector.
On the continued imperialism of the United Snakes of America (USA)
We condemn the war-mongering attitude of the USA towards the government of Syria as led by President Assad. We will fight tooth-for-nail attempts by the USA to re-colonise Syria under the guise of peace and stability in Syria. The USA has continuously arrogated itself as an omnipotent entity and a global peace-maker with veto powers to invade any country anytime it wishes to do so. Our position should not be confused and viewed as an approval to deployment of chemical weapons for a wholesale massacre of civilians. We commend the government of South Africa for refusing to be bullied by the USA. What happened to the Gaddafi regime in Libya must never be allowed to happen elsewhere in the world.
SASCO welcomes Zimbabwean election outcome
South African students as led by SASCO unconditionally welcome and congratulate the democratic election of Cde. Robert Mugabe. We commend the people of Zimbabwe for re-affirming their confidence in the leadership of the revolutionary ZANU-PF and President Mugabe. We totally reject the unnecessary condemnation of the democratic election results by the West with their nostalgia for colonialism. We are disappointed but not surprised that Botswana is the only country in Southern Africa that questioned the democratic outcome of Zimbabweans elections. We will continue to lobby for the total isolation of Botswana from the African Union (AU) as it is an agent of Western imperialism.
SASCO calls for unity in COSATU
We are deeply worried about the ongoing political challenges within COSATU-the working class giant which rose in 1985. SASCO respects internal COSATU’s processes and will not comment on these. However, we cannot keep mum as students when our Federation is faced with terminal political crisis that threatens its very existence. We are members of COSATU in spirit and we care about its future. We, as students, are future members of COSATU and we refuse to inherit a fractured and weak COSATU. We want a COSATU that will continue to advance the plight of the working class and the poor. We will continue to fight for total unity, growth and Left revolutionary politics in our COSATU. SASCO will ensure within its means that none of the current affiliates leave the Federation.
Isolate and defeat backward ghetto nationalism: EFF
SASCO calls upon South African students and society at large to reject a so-called Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The EFF must be dismissed as a ghetto nationalist movement which thrives on mobilising emotions of the poor and throwing cheap insults at the leadership of the movement as led by the capable ANC. The deepening crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality in South Africa provides a fertile ground for backward ghetto nationalist movements such as EFF to fool the economically deprived. Working together with the structures in the movements, SASCO will strengthen its resolve to strengthen the youth movement to isolate, combat and defeat backward ghetto nationalist movements like EFF. EFF does not pose any threat to the hegemony of the ANC in society and as a ruling party. However, we will not be complacent.
SASCO 18th SASCO National Congress
The 18th SASCO National Congress will be held from 1-5 December 2013 at the University of Venda, Limpopo province. The National Congress will be addressed by the national leadership of the ANC, COSATU, SACP, SANCO, YCL SA, ANC YL and COSAS. The national congress will also be addressed by SASCO’s international allies across the world. The Congress will receive political, organisational and financial reports from the 17th SASCO National Executive Committee. All SASCO structures will from now be engaged in internal organisational processes in preparations for the national congress confirmed for the 1-5 December 2013.
For more information contact:
Ngoako Selamolela, SASCO President, 076 333 9127
Themba Masondo, SASCO Secretary General, 079 199 3421