South African Students Congress

SASCO statement on SONA

14 February 2015

Anarchy, theatrics and the missed moment

The South African Students' Congress (SASCO) is concerned about the attempts by the Economic Freedom Fighters to degenerate an organ of people's power, Parliament, using violent political discourse, anarchy and unruliness. We believe that what we witnessed during the State of the Nation Address is a clear indication of the desire by some to turn our democratic country into chaos and ruin.

For a while the EFF has been making known its intentions to disrupt and deny South Africans the right to listen to their democratically elected government report on the important question of the state of our nation. Unsurprisingly, the media has thrown its weight behind these efforts, reinforcing them and propagating the false notion that this is part of democratic and constitutional discourse.

SASCO regrets the incidents of the 12th February 2015, where our country was turned into a theatre of drama and an embarrassment. It is concerning that Julius Malema and his lot, have used democratic platforms, which were fought for with bloodshed and great sacrifice, to pursue a narrow interest of popularity and "relevance to the media."

The EFF had no intention of merely posing a question to the President; they had made it clear that they in fact never wanted to hear the State of the Nation. All they wanted was to embarrass the President and the ANC, but what they in fact achieved was to embarrass the whole nation in front of the world. They had planned, orchestrated and even rehearsed the anarchy displayed yesterday.

We call on all South Africans to rise to the defense of our country's democratic institutions. Our Parliament should be a Peoples' Parliament, which will serve the interest of our country. We believe that it is only the people of this country that can put an end to this dangerous path of degeneration and violence. If not curbed, this violent discourse will spread throughout our nation. We defeated as a nation the violence and intimidation in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). We for sure can defeat and isolate these elements.

EFF's politics of violence, and bully tactics to those opposed to their views was not just evident in Parliament, but was exposed by their unleashing of terror and violence to their own Member of Parliament, Andile Mngxitama. This we have always known to be the politics of dictatorship and bullying by their degenerate leader Julius Malema and his pet, Floyd Shivambu.

SASCO was not surprised by the political theatrics of the Democratic Alliance, when they walked out of Parliament. Such is the nature of bourgeois political discourse. It is clear that the DA could not accept to allow the media headlines to be dominated by the EFF alone. They also wanted a share of the sound bites and to collectively share the Oscar with the EFF degenerates. We believe the EFF, DA and the liberal media deserve each other, and their romance was never more evident during the events of last evening.

The DA does not care about the state of our nation, all they desire is to defeat the movement of the people, in order to protect white privilege by maintaining the economic status core and reversing advances made by the National Democratic Revolution. We also noted the evident competition between the DA's Mmusi Maimane and the Chief Whip; with DA lily white MPs only following the instruction of the later, ignoring the former. This development was quite telling of the power dynamics within the DA.

SASCO was disappointed with the tactical blunder by our government to switch off the signal during the SONA, making it difficult for journalist to perform their work. We want to advise our government not to act in a way that will undermine our democracy, as a response to the clear intimidation it receives daily from the opposition, led by EFF (strangely) working hand in glove with the media, led by Ferial Hafejee and Abrahamjee (the gang leaders). This will only aid our detractors and undermine our own democratic institutions.

Our movement and government should rather focus on building their own public relations machinery, mass engagement of our people on the ground and popular struggles together with the people. We shouldn't, out of our frustration with the media's clear agenda against the NDR, respond recklessly and dangerously, lest we degenerate our nation by omission or commission.

On the State of our Nation;

SASCO believes that the President missed a serious moment to take South African's into his confidence on the challenges he flagged during the January 8 statement of the ANC around rising cost of higher education. SASCO expected the President to make bold pronouncement about the actions government will take to ensure that we reverse the use of tuition fees to exclude a number of working class and poor students. We expected the President to pronounce on an ANC and government decision to regulate fees in South African public universities.

We expected the President to tell the nation how his government will increase funding for higher education as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to reverse the decline over the past decade. We expected the President to make bold pronouncement on how government plans to progressively introduce Free Education by amongst others; Pronouncing that government will increase the NSFAS budget radically, pronouncing governments plans to create a funding scheme for the "missing middle" category of student (mainly children of public servants), amongst others.

These have been some of the key decision the ANC has already taken, awaiting the implementation of government. What the President did yesterday was to repeat the same paragraphs of his prevous SONA's on higher education and training. This we found to be very disappointing, especially after bold articulations of both the January 8 statement and the ANC NEC Lekgotla. This surely was a missed opportunity for the President.

SASCO however welcomes the pronouncements made on the response to the energy crisis in our country. We support the intention to have short, medium and long-term approaches to this crisis. It is clear that Eskom cannot at this stage sufficiently service the national demand for energy. We welcome in the interim, the procurement of energy from private producers and form neighboring countries. However we wish to warn that this must remain strictly an interim measure. We also call for discipline during the procurement processes in such a way that we avoid escalation of costs and fixing of prices, which has become a permanent feature in South African procurement practices.

The importance of diversifying our energy sources is important in the medium to long term, so that we do not find ourselves in a similar crisis going forward. We believe that that the plans outlines on shale gas energy, nuclear and conversion from diesel to gas should be expedited and not remain aspirations. We also urge our government to ensure that such an energy mix, must take into account environmental factors.

SASCO is encouraged by the fifty/fifty land ownership policy framework that will be piloted in fifty farms. This intervention will ensure that workers own the land that they work and will be a step in the right direction to realize the Freedom Charter. This intervention, if implemented correctly, will fast track land redistribution and reform. We call upon farmers in South Africa to cooperate with the state and hand over land to their employees. For too long workers have been tilling the land and only receiving poverty wages. 60 years of the Freedom Charter should mark a paradigm shift, we regard this policy as a positive move towards radical socio-economic transformation.

We support the decision to ban foreign ownership of land. We hoped that the President was going to also announce the ANC NEC Lekgotla decision to regulate land ownership in the country, in favour of distribution amongst the people as a whole. Our people need land.

We note the watered down approach to dealing with labour brokers, through the Employment Services Act. The movement should introspect and expose gatekeepers within itself. We are concerned that some amongst ourselves who own these labour brokering firms that exploit our vulnerable job seekers. The movement must put the interest of the people first before those of Capital gatekeepers.

We were hoping that clear pronouncements on the programs to change the ownership patterns of our economy were going to be announced. This would have been an important response to the year of the Freedom Charter. We believe this also was a missed opportunity.

Issued by the NEC of SASCO
Ntuthuko Makhombothi (President) 0718752209

Luzuko Buku ( Secretary General) 0718793258