South African Students Congress

Progressive Youth Alliance Press Statement

Hoisting the historic victory, calling for calm - Aluta Continua!

28 October 2015

The South African Students' Congress (SASCO), the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist welcome the historic victory of students on Friday, 23 October 2015. The moratorium on the increase on university fees for 2016 is an important qualitative advance towards Free Education and the total transformation of Higher Education.

We recall that we are members of the community before we are students. This means that our struggle for free access to education is a struggle for a better South Africa as a whole. Without an educated youth and without skills, we cannot hope to achieve sustainable, equitable, economic development and higher standards of living.

As the current generation, we are determined to build on the struggles and successes of generations before us. We have always held that the struggle for Free Education is historical and international in character. Because of this, we have and continue to receive messages of solidarity from our friends across the world.

THE MEANING OF THE 23 OCTOBER VICTORY

Building on the successes of the Right to Learn Campaign, the #FeesMustFall protest has scored the following major victories in principle and in real terms:

  1. For 2016, the increase of fees has fallen. The Government heeded the demands of students and placed a national moratorium on fees.

  2. For the 2015 second semester exams, dates for examinations will be adjusted to consider the time lost. We are however fighting with pockets of some VCs not agreeing with the change of the time table.

  3. The government has reaffirmed the Freedom Charter and its own policies on Free Education. Free Education will be realised in our lifetime. The process outlined by Government does not question the correct policy or principle of Free Education rather; it sets out a process on how to achieve it, sustainably. The Task Team has until November 2015 to report to the President and stakeholders.

  4. The agenda for Higher Education has been reset and Higher Education Reconstruction is underway in South Africa. All major issues such as curriculum change, outsourcing, infrastructure, institutional culture (racism, etc), governance, funding, and related principles such as autonomy etc, are firmly on the agenda and will be resolved. Students across institutions and nationally will be part of this reconstruction of Higher Education.

These are major and unprecedented victories and concessions by Government since 1994, at least at a system level. Students must not listen to those who say they have achieved nothing on Friday, 23 October 2015.

ALUTA CONTINUA!

We remain committed to unite all students in South Africa. A progressive sentiment and agenda is what informs the thinking and actions of all stakeholders in Higher Education at this hour.

We remain committed to our policies, programs and campaigns. Among others:

HISTORICALLY BLACK INSTITUTIONS

The isolation of historically black institutions is over. The unity of students across geography, race and class has won the day. The Government can no longer ignore the principle of equality between and within universities. Black institutions are affirmed and will be transformed.

THE PRIVATE SECTOR

We are calling on Business Unity South Africa, Business Leadership South Africa, the Black Business Council, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Chamber of Mines and Chamber of Commerce and Industry and all other private organised business interests to rethink and reposition themselves for a South Africa of Free Education in our lifetime. The business community has no choice but to partner the state in ensuring sustainable solutions on economic development and social policy.

SUSPENSION OF THE SHUT DOWN AND THE RETURN TO CLASS

We call on our students to return to class for examination purposes. The struggle for access to education is now returning to class, the library and examination halls. We call on all academics and institutions to assist our students to have the space and time to succeed. We protest in order to be educated, not to undermine our own education.

There is no contradiction between fighting and learning. The protest is NOT ended, it is merely suspended and shall resume after examinations. We are not opposed to studying; we are opposed to the unfair, harsh and unequal conditions under which we study. To that end, we say aluta continua!

REJECTION OF THE REGIME CHANGE AGENDA

There are attempts by some rogue and reactionary political elements to hijack the legitimate and just cause of students for their narrow political and sectoral interests. The end-game of these elements is regime change. Their agenda is political and has nothing to do with the progressive and proper student protest. We will not allow any force to divide students, weaken the campaign and abuse our platforms for narrow political ends.

In line with the Constitutive Act of the African Union, we do not support unconstitutional change of governments. Those who wish to challenge the legitimacy of the government of the day, have all the rights and space to do so openly, democratically, freely, fairly and constitutionally through the ballot. Consistent with this principle, we also do not support regime change in student governance.

We will not be party to regime change agendas that may have serious implications for the stability of our country or jeopardise both the protest and our collective future.

We call on all students to be vigilant always. We call on all students and fellow student organisations to close ranks and remain focused on the original idea: students first!

THE NEXT STEPS

We lead more than 80% campuses across the country. Our branches are on the ground working to restore the academic programme. We have already begun to mobilise students back to class and the library and; majority of students agree to return to class.

We are engaging various stakeholders, partners and allies to restore the academic programme, of which at this hour, it is the right thing to do.

At this hour, we will not retreat nor surrender but we will safeguard the academic interests of students. The struggle continues and we can learn and fight at the same time.

We thank all South Africans for supporting us. And we now call upon everybody to support us as we achieve our individual and collective dreams in class.

We have made our mark. Nobody can ignore or undermine us. The progressive agenda in higher education is firmly back on the agenda and we shall overcome!

The future of South Africa is safe in our hands! Going to class and protesting is one unified action and struggle!

Issued by the Progressive Youth Alliance

Ntuthuko Makhombothi - SASCO President - 0718752209
Mlondolozi Mkhize - ANC YL National Spokesperson - 0730114676
Isaac Luthuli - YCLSA Deputy National National Secretary - 074 815 9131