Issue 1, Vol 7: 9 April 2015
In this issue:
Editorial: Nonceba Mhlauli
Our public discourse has always had some tints of the racial dynamics within South Africa society, we have however in the recent past seen absolute outright racial intolerance and discrimination.
In February this year, we saw reports of Curro Foundation School in Roodeplaat where predominantly white parents did not want to have their children in the same class with blacks and the school gave into the pressure through racially diving the learners into different classrooms.
Who could forget the racist attacks last year where a domestic worker who was on her way to work was beaten up in Cape Town because she was mistaken for a prostitute by a white male?
These incidents are only but two examples of how 20 years later, South Africa is still very far from being a non-racial society and that racism is actually flourishing in South Africa today.
The public dialogue on the RhodesMustFall campaign revealed that our institutions of higher learning are far from immune to this problem and actually harbour deep seated racists views held by some.
According to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) about 45% of the equality complaints received between April 2013 and 2014 were related to the use of the K*** word in Institutions of Higher Learning.
Although our campuses are largely multi-racial, they still remain unintegrated. More often than note, one is most likely to find Africans keeping to themselves, whites keeping to themselves, coloured, Indians etc. Societies and Sporting codes still remain highly racialized with no attempts of racial integration. Students who study at historically white institutions will tell you that there are different events for different races.
The racial make-up of social spaces in our institutions are not divorced from the class orientation dominant within such spaces. The few black students who are found in predominantly white spaces are those who are from an upper middle class and affluent background while the poor black students remain socially excluded.
Although our institutions of higher learning do by and large not have racial segregationist policies, many of these institutions also do not have policies aimed at racial integration apart from the obscure housing policies of many institutions which result in racial attacks as seen in the reported incidences at the University of the Free State a few years back.
No institution of higher learning of would agree that they are in fact a racist institution. In fact, any debate on race is often shot down by Vice Chancellors by giving you a flimsy history lecture of how they fought for a non-racial South Africa during Apartheid. These Vice Chancellors, often portray themselves as progressive academics who have committed their lives to transformation but fail to put their money where their mouth is.
Our institutions of higher learning must distinctively understand that there is a major difference between multi-racialism and non-racialism and that multi-racialism does not necessarily lead to non-racialism which is what we should strive for.
SASCO has for some time called for Transformation quotas for previously white institutions of higher learning where they would be put under administration by failing to transform. This call was faced with gross rejected from these institutions in the name of institutional autonomy and all other nice concepts used to stifle transformation.
What remains clear that those at the helm of our institutions are not committed to transformation. The systematic exclusion of blacks by means of financial and academic exclusions in these institutions prove how institutionalised racism is in our higher education sector.
Rhodes University recently came under the spotlight through the University of Cape Town initiated #RhodesMustFall campaign. The #RhodesSoWhite campaign was launched by students at RU to initiate a debate of racism at Rhodes. This has raised tempers amongst black and white students. What has also became abundantly clear, as is the case with many public debates on race in South Africa, is that there remains a high level of racism denialism while black students still remain second class citizens on their campuses.
Black male students at Rhodes University are constantly harassed by the Campus Protection Unit to produce their student cards because they look like criminals. This is the kind of racial profiling which relegates black students to second class citizens on their own campuses. Students at such campuses are taught to fear the black man who does not fit the racial stereotypical prescription of how an educated black student ought to look.
The Race Caste System teaches us that Racism is a social system that has two main effects: first, to constrain people's lives by sorting them into positions in a hierarchy of power, prestige, status, wealth, opportunity, and life chances; and second, to maintain, extend, and reproduce this hierarchy by using political, economic, patriarchal, and cultural power (Alexander, 2010).
This correlates with writing of Simmone De Beauvior where she stated "the interests of the oppressors lie in changing the consciousness of the oppressed, not the situation which oppresses them; for the more the oppressed can be led to adapt to that situation, the more easily they can be dominated." (1963:4)
This therefore means that it is not in the interest of our racial oppressors to liberate the mind of the previously oppressed. Instead, attempts are made to convince the previously oppressed that their experiences of racism is imagined and a result of false consciousness. This thesis should be rejected with the highest utmost contempt from all race groups. The racists' encounters of black students on campus remain their lived experiences within a racialized society which leads to the perpetuation of their exclusion, institutionally and otherwise.
In a Business Day article on (1 April 2015), Professor Steven Friedman said "To fight racism, we must admit it exists." In order for us to achieve this, institutions such as RU, UCT, Stellenbosch, UP, UFS etc. need to stop treating racism as a figment of the black student's imagination and concede that we are faced with a crisis of racism on campuses. At a risk of sounding alarmist and extremist, the continual denial of the existence of institutionalised racism on our campuses will result in an all-out race war.
Nonceba Mhlauli is a member of the National Executive Committee of SASCO and the NEC Communications Cordinator
This first edition of Moithuti for 2015 looks at the question of transformation in the midst of the various public discourses on the matter in the recent weeks as well as the role of the organisation in such discourses. This edition asks whether SASCO is as active as it ought to be in championing the transformation agenda, why and how the removal of colonial symbolism is intrinsic to our transformation agenda and the role of the NDR in transformation. Importantly, it also questions the internal challenges the organisation is faced with and how such can only be brought about through organisational renewal and ideological clarification as a Marxist-Leninist Student Formation.
The topic for our next edition is "An assessment of the International Balance of Forces – The state of the African Continent". Please forward contribution to email@example.com. Articles must be a minimum of 1200 words, Arial font, and 12 point font size in Microsoft Word format accompanied by a portrait size photo of author with the name and institution & branch of the author listed. Contributions to be submitted by Monday 20 April 2015.
A task of our National Democratic Revolution
Khulezweni Sbu Shwala
The South African Students Congress struggle to transform higher education in particular and society in general has brought ideological perspectives to a contest followed by the organizations' commitment to the struggle to remove all apartheid-colonialism remnants in higher education particularly and in society generally. This commitment has brought the debate to the public and an array of ideological perspectives has reflected different public positions. The #RhodesMustFall Campaign that began openly like never before in history has brought the public into awe.
In the process of the ongoing ideological contests, we have noted conserved, anti-majoritarian and neo-liberal perspectives defending on the main the statue of John Cecil Rhodes from the removal in UCT and the subsequent renaming of Rhodes University; using a common claim that 'Rhodes played a significant role in the development of our society', which we may further conclude "and under-development too". The claim is not accidental. These ideological perspectives wish to continue to monumentalize apartheid-colonialism features in the key sites of struggle - the economy and the South African democratic society as a whole.
We have noted a reactionary call, by Potchefstroom students, University of North West, to remove Sol Plaatjie (the first ANC Secretary-General). This does not come as a genuine call, but as a counter call to the South African societal agenda to decisively deal with reactionary remnants of the past apartheid-colonialism history and features in our current epoch. This paper is to discuss why the need to intensify this struggle within the context of our unfolding NDR, and surrender not (in Che's words) in trembling with indignation at every injustice. It is therefore necessary to deal with the first strategic question.
Why the removals?
The post-1994 democratic breakthrough, the subsequent adoption of the supreme constitution, and the democratic scenario offered/ offers South Africa for the first time in centuries an opportunity to build itself as a country based on the principles of equality, non-sexism, non-racialism and human dignity. This is a platform to correct or to deal with the injustices of the past South Africa of colonialism, apartheid, ethnic chauvinism and all kinds of oppressive, discriminatory, backward features of the past. In this process many remnants of the colonized and segregated South Africa are being removed and changed (dependent on material conditions) as part of the country's commitment to remove names associated with what is called 'injustices of the past'.
Provinces, cities, towns, roads, streets, townships, schools and universities amongst others have, though not idyllically, been changing in the post-1994 scenario to reflect names associated with the democratic and freedom struggle in South Africa. The removals are not removals of convenience, or for what narrowly suits us today.
As a Marxist-Leninist student political force our Strategic Perspectives on Transformation asserts that we "correctly locate our vision of a transformed tertiary education system within the overall vision of the NDR, and that vision rests on the following five principles; equality, democracy, non-racism, non-sexism and redress"1. Thus it is in the bedrock of these principles that our current commitment arises, it is not an accidental struggle.
In this process we are not going to be apologetic in removing and contesting remnants that are against our cardinal principle (which are in no conflict with that of the country) which mirror apartheid-colonial features in our society. It is not our mistake that Rhodes represents and epitomizes colonialism and imperialism in Southern Africa; he must be removed like all his counter parts of the apartheid-colonialism legacy in South Africa
Understanding our paramount immediate task as to transform the state and related institutions (e.g. higher education) in the post-1994 scenario; higher learning institutions are a concerted expression of political power and relatively the balance of forces. Our commitment therefore lies in a task to obliterate the obscene remnants of apartheid reflecting and on the main characterizing our national scenario, that with colonial features in the base (economy) and superstructure (state and related institutions).
But in an ongoing process of transformation, and on our road to free, quality and compulsory education we will not leave Rhodes and others standing, they are better removed and DE-monumentalized. If this is in the interest of the National Democratic Revolution is better to further expound it.
Removals: A task of NDR
A task of our current commitment lies in the bedrock of our unfolding National Democratic Revolution. It is a task of NATION BUILDING, of 'consolidating a single, collective South Africanness, building unity in plurality'. The SACP continues to say "this aspect of nation building is not merely symbolic; it is a necessary task in the struggle to mobilize our forces for the ongoing NDR" and that "nation building must also critically address the material infrastructure that can help build a sense of unity, and whose current highly divisive patterns still undermine it" (SAPC, SARS 2013)2.
Thus for the task of the NDR of Nation Building it is an incontrovertible necessity to remove remnants that reflect and represent our apartheid-colonial past for the building of a socially, economically and politically inclusive non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.
If we are truly to transform South Africa, we must be committed to the removal of the dark past that shaped our development and under-development. The removals must not be narrowly seen as advents to remove history; we are more than happy if apartheid-colonial history and past is kept in books and museums and not in our democratic public spheres. The vibrancy to deal with apartheid and colonial history erected in our society is not only a task of the South African Students Congress, but a key task of all forces of our national democratic revolution.
We still need to see more intensified efforts, in communities, in the workplaces by the working class, of struggles to remove names named after Shepstone, DF Malan, Verwoerd, Hertzog and many others representing the historical squalor of the majority South Africans. The working class as a key motive force of our NDR has nothing to lose in this task, except the chains of memories of historical injustices and servitude embedded in all due-to-be-removed apartheid-colonial remnants.
If we are committed to a non-racial society, monuments of racialism must be de-monumentalized. Also if we are committed to nation building towards a truly democratic South Africa, figures and figurines who contributed their lives towards the building of democracy must be recognized more than those representing the past. It is a task of all revolutionary forces to mark decisive historical moments, with the intention of identifying the social and political developments arising from decisive moments. Therefore our task of removing the apartheid-colonialism miscellanies is not accidental, it is part and parcel of our vision and struggle in the transformation of higher education particularly and society generally.
In the transformation of higher education in particular and society in general lies a dialectical connection between the former and the latter as expounded in our Strategic Perspectives on Transformation that; "institutions of higher learning are microcosms of society"1 and that they are express reflections of the trends and balances of economic and political effects in society. This correctly captures our relationship with the National Democratic Revolution.
In the process of transforming the higher education sector we must always do so comprehending that this transformation is not independent from the broader struggles of the South African majority, i.e. the working class and the poor; struggles to advance the NDR and the creation of a society based on social needs before private profits. If we are to engage higher education transformation neglecting the visible history of prolonged oppression based on class, gender and race, it would be engaging on a fatal exercise.
The fall of the Lenin monument in Kiev, Ukraine in 08 December 2013 marked symbolic moments for our class enemies and historical forces against socialism. Though this was and is no guarantee that a socialist world will not re-emerge in future. Therefore the removal of Rhodes and the others should not blind us to assume that key features of apartheid-colonialism have been wholly dealt with. The process of an intensified transformation should be consistent and be continued. The dependent growth path shaped by apartheid-colonialism should also face contestation in pursuit to build South African national self-determination to determine a growth path that will place social needs before private profits for Free Education in Our Lifetime.
Khulezweni Sbu Shwala is SASCO KZN Provincial Political Commissar and YCLSA Riot Makomanisi District Spokesperson (Uthungulu/KZN)
It has been over two decades into democracy and the end of the apartheid era in 1994 when the country held its first ever democratic elections. The past era characterised by numerous discriminatory laws and practices based on race whose effect continues to burden our society today creating the ever standing need for debates like this.
Among other sectors in the South African society, sport and recreation was not excluded from the scourge of legalised, Institutionalised and non-institutionalised racial practices. The vast majority of Blacks (i.e. African, Indian and Coloured people) did not have equal access to competitive or recreational sports opportunities at school or community levels hence the inadequate sport and recreational facilities. There was little or no investment into sports infrastructure, equipment, attire, development, talent identification and/or activities for previously disadvantaged population groups.
At the same time, and as a result of campaigns led by many progressive sports activists inspired by the wider struggles against the regime, apartheid South Africa was subject to international sporting sanctions which isolated the country and its White athletic establishment from international competition. Irrespective of these racial practices various sports organisations tirelessly fought for establishing a sports system free of discrimination and that would provide equal participation opportunities for all South Africans. In order for this to be achieved it became important for the struggles that athletes were pursuing within the athletic realm to be linked with those of the rest of society.
This was done through the dedicated leadership and work of organisations such as the South African Council on Sport (SACOS), the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC), National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the National Sports Council (NSC). This meant that the development of sports in general and sports administration in particular was a parallel one and one characterised by contradiction; a reflection of the South African society. On the one end there existed a sporting community whose environment was engineered to bolster the capabilities and competitiveness of talent, nurture and develop talent all of which takes place with no inhibitions of resources. The resources referred to here are not merely financial resources; these include the totality of support systems including coaching to create well rounded athletes.
In 1993, the NSC convened a “Vision for Sport” national sports conference. The NSC had been established to unify sports structures; develop a national sports policy and facilitate equitable development of sport in a democratic South Africa. The sports development pyramid or continuum of foundation, participation, performance and excellence phases was mooted at this conference. This approach as well as the outcomes of the conference was included in the democratic government's first discussion paper on sport entitled “Getting the Nation to Play”. In this era the progressive forces were charged with the duty to craft a policy framework that was to facilitate inclusion and fight against oppression. The advent of democracy in 1994 ushered in significant changes to policies and legislation that impacted on all sectors of society and that addressed all aspects of political, socio-economic and human rights of people.
All the changes were driven by the democratic government's goal of transforming South Africa into a free, just and equitable society that meets the needs of its people by creating a better life for all. The new democratic government of South Africa, under the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) as the ruling party, consolidated the efforts of the SACOS, SANROC and the NSC by building a democratic sports system that addressed the imbalances of the past. The process of consolidating and unifying the institutional make up of administrative structures South Africa was underway.
Given government's understanding of the important socio-economic and developmental role of sport, this sector was identified as needing to be transformed to, amongst others, increase and ensure equitable access to all sporting opportunities; develop and build the sports economy; increase the social development impact of sport; harness and further develop the competitive abilities of South African sports persons to participate in international sports competitions and for the sector to reflect the demographics of the country.
In 1996 under the leadership of, Mr S.V. Tshwete a White Paper on sport and recreation was realised as the first official policy on sport and recreation since the establishment of this Ministry on 1 July 1994. Under the leadership of Mr B.M.N. Balfour Five years after the first White Paper on sport and recreation was released, it was revised and updated to take into account new Developments in the sport and recreation sector.
Later a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) was to investigate factors that negatively impact on South Africa's performance in high performance sport at an international level. This initiative was partly motivated by the perception that South Africa had performed poorly at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Although the MTT was tasked with focusing on high performance or elite sport; its report and recommendations addressed improving the overall sports system in South Africa.
The Cabinet approval of the MTT findings towards the end of 2003 paved the way for the rationalisation of South African sport with a reduction of seven umbrella bodies to only two, namely a fully-fledged Department of Sport and Recreation to deal with mass participation and a non-governmental sports organisation to assume the coordinating responsibility for high performance sport. The former entities at a macro-level comprised the following:
Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA)
In 2004, the South African Sports Commission Act was repealed and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) was established.
In establishing a unified sport system by the establishment of the department of sport and recreation and the SASCOC, A sector in sport had also undergone a process of having one umbrella body, this sector in its nature had and still have majority of young people that participate in sport in institutions of higher learning.
The establishment of the South African Student Sports Union (SASSU) introduced an exciting new era in student sport at tertiary education institutions. The significance was that it unified two historical separate groupings within our society, i.e. students from historical Black and historical White institutions. It did so in a way that sought to harness the experience and expertise of both groupings in order to establish a new tradition, one that reflected the aspirations of all student sports persons guided by the historical mission of tertiary education institutions, being centres for the acquisition of life skills and the imparting of knowledge and research. SASSU was founded within this sector to promote sporting values and encourage sporting practice in harmony with, and complementary to, the academic character of tertiary education institutions.
It was then later that SASSU and the SASCOC reached consensus on the way forward for university sport in South Africa. SASCOC agreed that, due to the unique nature of student sport universally, that university sport should continue to exist independently in its current format and that the name of SASSU is changed to University Sport South Africa (USSA).
It was agreed that USSA will proceed as the official national co-ordinating umbrella sports structure for the regulation and organisation of all university sports activities in South Africa, while SASCOC will take responsibility for the preparation and delivery of teams to all high performance multi-coded international events, i.e. FISU World Student Games better known as the “Universiades”, Federation of African University Sport (FASU) and Confederation of University and Collages Sport Association (CUCSA) Games.
USSA in association with National Federations will however still remain responsible for the preparation and delivery of teams that will participate in individual FISU World University Championship events. The selection of national university sports teams shall be in accordance with FISU Regulations as well as the USSA and SASCOC selection policies.
Embracing FISU's motto of 'Excellence in Mind and Body', the Summer Universiade incorporates educational and cultural aspects into 12 days of sports competitions, allowing university student-athletes from all over the world to celebrate with the host city in a true spirit of friendship and sportsmanship. This is the only summer multi-sport event in the world that connects students at both academic and athletic levels, and it is broadcasted by more than 100 TV channels worldwide.
As things stand one can correctly argue that It has been over 20 years of tireless policy formulation and paperwork but the question stands: are we also going to wait for another 20 years to realise the objectives and targets we set out for ourselves in the loads of paperwork in the field of play? This is the most important question in our continuing effort to transform South African sports, South African university sports and South Africa itself. This paper seeks to lay a basis for an all-encompassing discussion on the challenges of transformation of sports in higher education in relation to sport in particular.
On the other hand transformation of sport in universities should not be isolated from the broader transformation agenda of higher education. Differentiated funding of the higher education sector is a major factor and stumbling block on transformation. By this I simply mean that you are a student before you become a university athlete therefore access with a full cost of study is central to participation and transformation. Can we conclude and say our universities are totally transformed as envisaged in the freedom charter? No. Even though much as work is being done but a conclusion cannot be made that the work done thus far changes the position if the previously disadvantaged student in any fundamental way. Particularly that the funding system of our universities is still based on the same formula by which the current were created. This reality is replicated in the area of sports. To make this point we rely on the recent report of the NSFAS review which reflects the disparities of funding between white and black institutions.
The NSFAS Review Report was commissioned in 2012 and its purpose was to assess the strengths and shortcomings of the current scheme and to advise the Minister on the short-, medium- and long-term needs for student financial aid to promote the twin goals of equity of access and providing free undergraduate education to students from working class and poor communities who cannot afford further or higher education.
Although the report focused on problematic funding of Universities by the institution, it further focused on other funding systems outside NASFAS. As the formula focuses on Funding of research, Post graduate studies and other areas. Unfortunately if such funding systems are not inclusive of the real definition of full cost of study we will continue to have underfunded Football black dominated and resourced rugby white dominated due to the fact that majority of the sporting codes that black people had no access to are expansive to continue participating in.
It is my view that the recommendations of the NSFAS report paved a way forward clearly on what needs to be done and the has been no significant change in as far as what that report recommended of which we cannot conclude that the progressive recommendation in that report have been effected.
Currently in the university sport system an elite high-performance platform has been introduces by the name of Varsity Sport under the University Sport Company. Participating codes are athletics from, hockey, cricket, football, beach volleyball, 7s rugby and netball.
It's my considered view that this league future derails sport transformation in our universities while widening pockets of capital. It is a similar system to the Varsity Rugby league that has categorised Universities with two different platforms that clearly state that Varsity Cup is for developed and previously advantaged universities and Varsity Shield is for the historically disadvantaged universities. It is the most arrogant platform that says we must remain separated and isolated.
I say this due to the fact that for instance the Varsity Cup participants are: University of Pretoria, University of Free State, University of Cape Town, North West University, Stellenbosch University, University of Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela metropolitan University, and Central University of Technology. On the other hand Varsity Shield participants are: Wits, University of Kwazulu Natal, University of Western Cape, University of Fort Hare, Tswane University of Technology. Can we then conclude that this is inclusive participation let alone the thorny subject of transformation?
In conclusion, the 20 years of paperwork has unfortunately come and gone, all progressive forces of our movement must not be apologetic on implementing radical transformation. Our universities must be transformed holistically without fear or favour.
1996 White Paper on Sport and recreation
Andile Majeke is a former Provincial Treasurer of SASCO in the Eastern Cape, President of USSA, Executive Committee member of CUCSA and currently Legal and Constitution committee member of FASU and Student Committee member of FISU.
"It is absolutely essential that the oppressed participate in the revolutionary process with an increasingly critical awareness of their role as subjects of the transformation" - Paulo Freire
Since its formation in 1991 at Rhodes University, the South African Student Congress agreed on a number of issues the new merged student formation must tackle and as part of its core mandate, was the issue of transformation of all sectors particularly the higher education sector.
The 15th SASCO National Congress held in Walter Sisulu University in 2008 took some (but not limited to) the following radical resolutions:
Fast Forward to 2015:
Seven years later, the above resolutions have not been achieved and we are instead witnessing a wave of anti-imperialists/apartheid artefacts in most of our institutions of higher learning that have failed or are not taking the issue of transformation serious.
We have recently seen resolutions of the organisation being hijacked and in some instanced used propaganda material to wage disunity within SASCO by reactionary forced as seen in the SRC election campaign trail of VUT.
The call for the brutal taking down of all colonial statues and renaming all the universities and buildings that have names of colonial savages has been run by individuals and hijacked by liberals who by their nature are very opportunistic. Where is the organisation? Has the revolution passed us? Are we true to the transformation agenda as resolved in 2008 and all other congresses? These are the questions all members of SASCO inclusive of leadership should be asking us.
SASCO cannot afford the following:
We are now playing second fiddle to liberals and clowns who have hijacked these campaigns and made them look like their occurrences had been spontaneous and UN organised and that SASCO has literally failed students. This must be dismissed with impunity. All these occurrences are a result of the sharpening of contradictions in the sector which has been pursued by none other than SASCO.
One of the biggest challenges facing the organisation in this current conjuncture is the relevance and appeal of the organisation to the larger student body on our respective campuses. Various organisational gatherings and platforms have dealt with questions of organisational renewal and re-energizing. Organisational Documents such as the well "Amandlaness" deals at length with this question. The question which emerges is whether our messages in their current form are reaching the larger student body, if so, how are they received and if not, why not?
Being a Marxist-Leninist student organisation it is imperative that the propaganda apparel in the organisation does not sleep but continuously shapes the public opinion on any matter that affects students on campus. The big question is, has our structures been able to make use or formulate propaganda machinery that will be effective and will clarify all who might have been starting to doubt the capacity and the ability of the organisation.
More often than not, students are not being taken aboard on many matters that have to do with strikes for an example, they are only given scant information when a strike is already in motion and this primarily alienates students from the activities of the organisation. When students are interviewed whether they understand what is happening especially with the contentious issue currently, that of bringing down all colonialists symbols down most of them are confused they don't know whether to join or not.
Very few which are mostly the already converted know why this is necessary but can't promulgate those views to reach thousands and thousands of students.
SASCO cannot afford to outsource the struggle for the transformation of higher education. The call for the removal of statues is the first and next shall be a coordinated campaign of the renaming of some institutions which either have names of colonialists or former Bantustan despots. SASCO must hold a series of public lectures to sway the minds of students and the public alike in relation to why is this necessary. Furthermore our SASCO led SRCs must also call students body meetings to demystify any conclusion that the call for the removal of statues is an end to itself but must inculcate through the mind-set of students that transformation is none negotiable and an apex priority and be succinctly clear what is SASCO transformation agenda.
This is the first of a three part series on SASCOs Agenda for Transformation of Higher Education by Pinda Mofokeng.
Pinda Mofokeng is the Provincial Secretary of SASCO in KwaZulu-Natal.
How is it that a state so rich in mineral resources still classified as a Third World country? By what means is a state whose mineral reserves continue to be some of the world's most valuable, with an estimated worth of R20.3-trillion, have social, political, cultural, and economic divisions that mirror those of least developed countries? Exactly how is a republic that has the world's largest reserves of platinum group metals and manganese, and is also among the among the largest reserves of gold, diamonds, chromite ore and vanadium, have challenges of access and success in institutions of formal learning and training for the majority population?
The answer lies, progressive revolutionaries will argue, in the fundamental contradiction that exists in the South African society. These are described in the thesis of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) as racial oppression, class super-exploitation, and patriarchal relations of power.
While there is universal consensus amongst progressive forces on the need to transform South Africa into one which belongs to all who live in it, despite race, class, gender or creed, the route or methods of achieving such transformation fundamentally differ. The joint COSATU/SACP political project, building socialism now (1999), argue that in attaining major structural change in South Africa, there are two strategic possibilities.
On the one hand you have what one would call capitalist class strategic perspective on transformation which seeks "to bring about some limited, formal deracialisation (to destabilise or even win over key parts of the liberation movement), and to carry through the neoliberal structural transformations of the economy to make it more "competitive" within the context of imperialist globalisation" (COSATU/SACP, 1999). On the other hand, you have the national democratic perspective of the popular progressive liberation forces in our country, frequently referred to as the National Democratic Revolution, which seeks to resolve the three interrelated and interconnected fundamental contradictions of racial oppression, class supper exploitation, and patriarchal relations of power.
In this light, this article will attempt to discuss the relationship between the struggle to fundamentally and radically transform the higher education and training sector, and the NDR. It will do so by firstly looking at the historical need for the struggle to transform the higher education and training sector. It will further illuminate on what is meant by the concept of a National Democratic Revolution in relation to overcoming the challenges in the higher education and training sector. Lastly, it will argue that the NDR is the only reliable and effective strategic possibility in realising true and fundamental transformation in the higher education and training sector in particular, and in society in general.
Historical relevance of the need to transform education in South Africa:
The apartheid regime adopted and implemented oppressive economic and social policies which sort to marginalize the majority of the country's population and deepen the strata of the vicious circle of poverty and other similar implications. In other words, or rather in public policy terms, the Republic was defined by social exclusion policies of the majority, and social inclusion policies for the white minority population of the country. Education played a crucial role in ensuring that the ideals of the racist state filter through the divided South African society at the time, and reproduce themselves in a post-apartheid democratic dispensation.
The African majority where denied their birth right to formal learning and culture through the many policies that existed in the era. For example, for a black African to enrol in institutions of higher learning and training which were reserved for the white minority, such the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University, they would have to write a letter of motivation to the Minister of Education.
While there were institutions of higher learning for the black population, these were confronted with challenges of limited resources and facilities. More than anything, these institutions were built to reinforce the tribal structure of living imposed by the illegitimate apartheid regime.
The material effects of apartheid rule resulted in millions of South Africans participated in the construction and adoption of the Freedom Charter, a document that expressed the demands of the people in the country. Its opening demand was that the "People shall Govern" (C.O.P: 1955), which meant an entitlement of the people in taking part in the administration of the country, and the removal of bodies of minority rule replaced by democratic organs of self-governance. Included in these demands was that "the doors of learning and culture shall be open" (C.O.P: 1955). The student movement further contextualized this demand within the creation of a national democratic society, when it became among the progressive forces in the country to adopt the NDR as a direct route and program to achieve the ideals mentioned in the peoples Freedom Charter. However the question remains, as to what we mean when we speak of a national democratic revolution, more especially in relation to the struggle to transform higher education and training in South Africa.
Overcoming challenges in the higher education and training sector - The meaning of the NDR:
In order to do justice to this task, or at least attempt to do so, this paper will unpack the "N", the "D", and the "R" in the NDR linked to the challenges that exist in the higher education and training terrain.
The N in the NDR
The national characteristic of the NDR has three main tasks. Firstly it is "the struggle to overcome the legacy of racial/ national oppression of the black majority in general, and the African people in particular" (COSATU/SACP, 1999). In other words, this task refers to the struggle to create a just society based on the principle of non-racialism. This legacy of national/ racial oppression is expressively prevalent in our institutions of higher learning and training, more especially those that were previously preserved for the white minority populace in the colonial and apartheid era, such as the University of Pretoria, University of Cape Town, and the University of Free State.
The second task denotes the overall objective of achieving real nation building in South Africa. This task is ordinarily confused with the abstract and symbolic forms of patriotism that don't deal with the actual material conditions for the existence of racial divisions in our society and the education and training terrain. Rather it entails "overcoming the huge inequalities in infrastructural development between urban and rural areas, between formerly white and formerly black urban areas. It means forging a unifying national education system, equally available to all" (COSATU/SACP, 1999). The inequalities that exist between the so-called "ivory tower" institutions and the institutions of higher learning and training which were previously meant for the black population present themselves in many aspects such as, infrastructural development, fiscal sustainability and capital investments from alumni and other revenues, administration, quality of teaching staff, knowledge and research production.
The third element of the N in the NDR relates to the struggle to accomplish actual national sovereignty in the country. This means a South Africa whose education system is able to address the challenges facing the country. It denotes an education and training system capable of producing a force of progressive academics free from regressive ideas and philosophies of global imperialism. It signifies academic content which is in contrast to the capitalist neo-liberal programme whose main aim is to reduce our national as a peripheral, dependent and third world economy.
The D in the NDR
The struggle against apartheid and colonial rule was significantly intensified with the historic 1994 victory that saw the first democratic elections in the country, based on the principle of ‘one man, one vote'. While the majority population of the country could now enjoy a basic right of self-determination (the right to choose their own government), this did not necessarily mean that all spheres of society were democratized. The majority population in the country are not involved in the decision making process in institutions of higher learning and training. On the contrary, it is the lily-white male dominated senates that are responsible for driving transformation.
The point stated above narrates the second aspect of the D in the NDR, which is the democratisation of gender relations. It is true that in South Africa, African women suffered what is universally (well at least among progressive forces) understood as triple oppression of race, class and gender. This is still true in the new democratic South Africa. Consider for example the lack of African female professors in the country. Of the 2174 professors on the university employment data in 2014, only 28 are African female professors. (Check, 2014) The University of Cape Town (UCT) does not have a single black female professor in its employment data.
The R in the NDR
It is clear, given the depth of these interrelated and interconnect struggles that the only plausible and logical solution is a fundamental reorganisation of the society in general, and the higher education and training sector in particular. "A profound process of change in which power relations are radically transformed" (COSATU/SACP, 1999). Put differently, the process of change ought not to be reformist, symbolic, or incorporative of some sections of the oppressed groups. Institutions of higher learning and training, including those which were previously preserved for the white community, should have student and staff profiles that increasingly reflect the population demographics of the country. The academic content taught in lectures should not only be Afrocentric, but class orientated as well. The main focus of research must be to address the challenges in the country, the region, the continent, and the global South as a whole. Our campuses must be reconstructed to never glorify the injustices of the past, but rather embrace a society with the features of democracy, equality, freedom and self-determination, and socialisation of key sectors of the economy.
It is evident that the NDR remains a relevant and unswerving programme for fundamental change in the higher education and training sector. The capitalist strategic possibility preferred by our class enemies and the neo-liberal camp will but place a carpet over the dirt. The progress student movement must continue to adopt this programme in its attempt to radically transform the higher education and training terrain.
Check, A. (2014, August 18). Retrieved from Africa Check : http://africacheck.org/reports/how-many-professors-are-there-in-sa/
Luntu Sokutu is a member of the National Executive Committee of SASCO and the Organisational Development Coordinator of the NEC.
One Joseph Goebbles, who was a right hand man of Adolph Hitler, argued that if lies keep on being repeated, people are most likely to believe it. This was said many years ago, and even today, this still appears to be the case. Critics of SASCO are well aware of this, in fact they don't hesitate to say anything and everything about the organization.
The leadership of SASCO at all levels has been a target of all sorts of attacks. Of course, it is expected that being at the helm of an organization such as SASCO you will face criticism, and at times unfounded claims.
At the heart of this attack, is a genuine concern that SASCO is not acting as it should be when championing the interest of students. SASCOs reaction to the ongoing crisis of NFSAS at various institutions and its call for free education is used as reference of its weakness.
Some of our critics argued that the aforesaid challenges are exclusively caused by the subjective weakness of the leadership. Those who are for this notion are quick to point out names of individuals as a primary cause of the challenges the organization is facing. This notion manifests itself in different forms and slogans. It is here you will hear things such as the "Chairperson is weak, or the President is not key." Coupled with this, is the malicious comparison of the former leadership, and the incumbent. Comparing leadership is not inherently wrong, however it is the motive that could be wrong as is the case in most instances.
This article intend to address the above fallacy, and it's ideological basis. It will further highlight the fundamental cause of the ideological paralysis within the organization, and the perceive weakness of the leadership of SASCO at various levels.
Indeed, if lies are spread on daily basis, and there is no effort to neither counter nor correct it, then such lies will be seen by those who are not privy to the details of the situation as the honest truth.
The use of propaganda as a form of persuasion in politics is not a new phenomenon. It was a common practice during the cold war.
The advantage of propaganda is that you defeat your opponent without spare of blood. In the course of spreading propaganda you say all sort of things. The aim is one, tarnish the image of your opponent, and enhance yours. This seems to be exactly what arm chair critics of SASCO are aiming to achieve.
In the recent past, we have seen renewed efforts to discredit SASCO as an organization, and its leadership. The names of individuals are isolated from the collective. This is deliberately done in order to present the weakness of individual as that of the organization. This is how private conversation of our critics go - " SASCO is weak under the leadership of Z, or the election of Y was the death of SASCO, look what is happening in NFSAS, and the other will reply, the secretary has no content" . This is said as if content can bring free education.
Of course, there are challenges that the organization needs to address as urgently as possible. This includes strengthening the capacity of branches to enable them to tackle students' grievances. However, to suggest that the failure of the organization to responds to the needs of students promptly is due to subjective weakness of leadership is malicious, and shows lack of maturity.
The major challenge that SASCO is facing is a general lack of political consciousness amongst its most prominent members, and the ideological paralysis, which have characterized the organization for some time now.
The basis of this ideological paralysis lies on SASCO's continued disregards for Marxist-Leninist solutions that are found after using Marxist-Leninist as tools of analysis. It is sad, that even after we have adopted a resolution that we are Marxist -Leninists student movement, our posture can be hardly distinguished from other myopic student formations.
Most members of SASCO don't understand the basic theory of Marxist, yet we expect them to lead the organization in a most efficient way!
The leadership of SASCO is not from heaven, those who lead are elected amongst the members, so even if you change leadership every week it won't solve the root cause of the problem. The fundamental cause of the problem is lack of political clarity, and ideological grasp by members of the organization.
SASCO in all levels of its structures it should prioritize political education. Such will go a long way in fixing the so many wrongs that seems to be the defining feature of our organization. The challenges SASCO face are beyond the weaknesses of individuals and ore ideological in nature.
Percy Mthombeni is Branch Secretary of SASCO at UNISA, and LLB student.