18 May 2015
The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Students' Congress (SASCO) met from the 15th to the 17th of May 2015 to consider a variety of issues facing the organisation in the post-schooling sector and to adopt its Programme of Action for the remainder of the year.
The NEC met just a month after a brutal killing of 147 people, most of them students, in Garissa University College in Kenya. As we were still shocked by this incident, a wave of xenophobic incidences broke out in the country. These shameful and abhorrent incidences took away many lives and displaced a number of people. The organisation condemns this act of barbarism. These are events that continue to shame humanity and expose the fact that we have not progressed in educating our people about the value of human life.
In the weeks leading up to our NEC, Wits University and the University of Cape Town had taken decisions to suspend student leaders in these campuses. These institutions recently faced student protests on NSFAS and symbols of colonialism but interestingly in both institutions the suspensions were not as a result of the protests. We will be fooled if we believe that these suspensions have nothing related with the protests. These incidences continue to prove the anti-student activism nature of our universities. They continue to show that these institutions continue to show a culture of docility. We call for the reversal of these suspensions.
On SRC Election Setbacks
The organisation noted with the necessary alarm the recent losses at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) and the University of Fort Hare (UFH). The organisation views these losses with the seriousness they deserve and we have informed our structures to take note of the reality that the opposition in our institutions is very aggressive and thus needs to be fought with outmost vigilance and dedication.
We believe that these losses are a call for the organisation to introspect and aggressively focus on servicing students. The challenge that was discovered in both lost institutions is that the organisation did not properly monitor the work of its SRC's and as a result students punished SASCO for some of its deployee's opulence, misbehaviour, and carelessness of some of the decisions they took. The challenges of NSFAS compounded these challenges. We resolved to instruct our provinces to properly monitor SRC's and branches in order for them to do the work of the organisation with outmost dedication, diligence and with the necessary sensitivity they deserve.
The NEC observed that the ANC is under attack from all corners of South African society and that more often than not SASCO has had to defend the ANC and its leadership in government. It is our view that this shielding of the ANC has led to many people believing that the organisation is not well-suited to contradict the state in its fight for the introduction of Free Education and against the challenges of NSFAS. The continuing illegitimacy of the South African state compounds this. The organisation is not apologetic for its defence of the ANC on some of the good things that it has done and we will continue doing this as it is in line with our complementary and contradictory approach against the South African state. Whilst we will continue to relate with the ANC, our involvement of it in our programmes will be done with the necessary caution in order to demystify the opportunistically created impression that we cannot think outside of it and government.
The organisation will work to ensure that we reclaim all the institutions that we have lost and defend all those we are currently governing in. We currently control more than 70 percent of universities in the country and we need to expand this and win even those institutions where we have not led in the recent past. It is for this reason that we have adopted a programme of action titled: Operation Restore Absolute Hegemony!
On the Free Education Struggle
The NEC took note of the fact that the Ministry of Higher Education is arrogantly refusing to implement Free Education. We are of the view that the rife and rampant challenges of NSFAS are a clear indication that the institution in its current form has reached its sell-by date. All the reforms that are being introduced will all come down to the fact that we do not have Free Education in the country and the spending on post-school education in the country is abysmal and silly.
Government continues to display arrogance by keeping on postponing the introduction of Free Education in the land. The minister continues to implement his ideology of Free Education Postponism with impunity and utter disregard for students. He is now planning to introduce Free Education in 2019 when his term has expired. This is an insult that students should not take lightly and as such we will fight it with outmost vociferousness. We cannot have Free Education being relegated to permanent oblivion under our watch.
It is for this reason that the organization will be engaged in a national campaign on Free Education which will shut down all TVET Colleges and Universities in different weeks of the second semester. We will take all colleges to strike at the end of July and all universities at the end of August this year. This is not a threat but a commitment and a schedule for this will be released in due course.
On the Review of the Higher Education Act
The NEC welcomes the indication that there will be a review of the Higher Education Act this year. We have however learnt that the intention of this review is only to clarify the powers of the minister in the appointment of independent assessors and administrators. It is sad that this review is not about the clarification of the quagmire of institutional independence, which is insisted upon under the guise of institutional autonomy.
We call upon government to initiate the review with the intention of closing the discussion around institutional autonomy and public accountability. We plead with both the ministry and parliament to be decisive and not be scared of court threats that some reactionary Vice-Chancellors and institutions always pose. We believe that all those who want government to be totally distant from institutions are doing so with the intention of preserving the exclusionary policies and practices in those institutions.
On the Electricity Crisis
The NEC took exception at the current energy crisis in the country and noted the manner in which this crisis is affecting institutions of higher learning, more particularly those that are historically disadvantaged, as they do not have back-up generators. This negatively affects teaching, learning and student life. The organisation will be having protests in all institutions in protests against the policy of load shedding. The policy must be totally discarded and in the meanwhile universities and colleges should be exempted from load shedding.
The organisation fails to understand the government explanation on the pressure on the electricity grid. What is clear is that the highest echelons in Eskom and government knew the fact that we have an energy crisis in our hand. We are against the utilisation of this sad situation of this crisis in order to introduce privatisation of Eskom. This is the old Freidmanian Shock Doctrine where every crisis is viewed as an opportunity for the introduction of laissez faire capitalism. We are against the privatisation of any assert of Eskom as this can be used as an entry to wholesale privatisation of the entity.
We also call for Eskom and government discontinue its public campaign, which tries to link the energy crisis with the non-payments of electricity by certain municipalities, as if after payments all will be well. We are faced with a crisis of poor planning at the entity and we urge government to take responsibility for its inactions.
On the National Congress
The organisation resolved to open a bidding process for the 19th National Congress, which is taking place at the end of the year. This process is done alongside the principle of rotation and it is for this reason that only the North West and the Western Cape have been invited to make bids for the hosting of this important event from the 1st to the 5th of December 2015. The NEC has thus tasked the NWC to evaluate these bids and make a decision on them.
The NWC has also been instructed to release guidelines for the running of BGMs by the end of August so that they do not clash with the examination period. Discussion documents for this congress will also be released by the end of August, in order to allow for their discussion in AGMs, Regional Congresses and Provincial Congresses. This is done with the intention of ensuring that there is enough political preparation for this congress.
Issued by the SASCO NEC
Ntuthuko Makhombothi (President) 071 875 2209
Luzuko Buku(Secretary General) 071 879 3258