South African Students Congress

SASCO NEC Political Input to the PGC

Viva Albertina Sisulu viva
viva Ruth First viva
Viva Lillian Mbuyi viva
Viva Fatima Meer viva
Viva Etsa Fable viva

The PEC of SASCO Gauteng Province
REC members
And all the important branch delegates present here
Our dear comrades from our fraternal structures

Allow me to extend revolutionary greetings to this important Provincial General Council

Comrade Chairperson, Communists usually say that class struggle is the steam engine of history. Indeed developments around us and internationally confirm this assertion. As this session of the PGC takes place, the class struggle is advancing. With every passing day under capitalism, the two opposite classes are fighting each other. This struggle, comrade chairperson, is as Marx and Engels asserted, both covert and overt

The extraction of surplus value from the working class by the capitalist class in the production process is the primary way in which the capitalist class subdues the working class under capitalism.

The working class is every day waging struggles aimed at contesting this robbery from the capitalist class. This varies - from the high worker absenteeism to the more open forms of struggle such as industrial strikes and so forth.

In this struggle, chairperson, there can only be one winner - its either the capitalist class wins and we are forever subjected to living under the capitalist system, with all its evils OR the working class triumphs and gives birth to a socialist society.

Comrade delegates, it was also Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, that alerted us to the fact that capitalism is a crisis ridden system. It creates its own gravedigger - the modern proletariat - and generates the conditions for its own downfall. Thus we can safely say that capitalism will one day be history.

However, the collapse of capitalism will not only come about as a result of its own internal contradictions. A class conscious social agent, in the form of the proletariat, is a necessary ingredient to the collapse of capitalism. Armed with revolutionary theory, struggling side by side with communists organised under a vanguard party, and facing a period of capitalist crisis where the capitalist class is internally fractured it can no longer rule in the old way - the working class can conquer the ruling class and organise itself as the state.

Comrade Chairperson, we meet here today just a few weeks after workers in the country took to the streets in the struggle for better wages and better working conditions.

As we speak here today, workers employed as cleaners are on the streets, demanding a living wage.

Across the globe young people who are at the coal face of marginalisation by despots are rising up challenging autocratic regimes and calling for more equitable distribution of wealth

The young people who took to the streets in Egypt decried the widening income gap between the rich and the poor in their country

They looked back nostalgically to the era when the state owned a greater portion of the economy.

In Yemen as well, the working class revolted against the 40% unemployment, the IMF imposed General Sales Tax and the cut in state subsidies.

The Arab revolts and uprisings are more than just about political rights but some of them have important economic demands.

Comrade delegates, in today's world, imperialism and human rights have become the best of friends. Countries are invaded under the guise of safeguarding human rights and protecting "peaceful" protesters.

Why should a Marxist write or talk about the matter if s/he is yet to study it? Marxists study situations in their entirety. Even when studying any matter requires that the matter in question be broken down into pieces for further scrutiny of its parts, Marxists never lose focus. They dwell on the bigger picture for they are guided by an outlook that insists that sum of the Parts are not equal to the Whole.

That is why when we look at the Arab revolutions in general and Libya in particular we do not set our eyes off its main features. The struggle for political rights by the people should always be supported. As communists, we can no longer dismiss the right to vote and the right to stand for election as simply bourgeois democratic rights. Being born out of the struggle against apartheid, we know only too well the role that the struggle for political rights and democracy played in our struggle. The Gadaffi regime, by and large, denied the people basic political rights.

However, we would be narrating an incomplete story if we were to merely stop here. Without dwelling much on history, here are a few facts about Libya.

When it became clear to the imperialists that Libya was in conflict with itself, imperialists organised as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) devised ways to spill more blood in the streets of Libya. This was done so that they can get access to what they value the most, the natural resources and raw materials in developing countries. What the imperialists value the most is wealth not the right to a decent life of any nation. They had to devise means to get access to Libya's wealth and this came in pretext of defending the civilians from the brutality of Gadaffi's rule. Yet the imperialists were doing what they do the best, telling half-truths in order to tap into and garner support of that body called the UN.

Just a few days ago, in the imperialists' own home ground, crowds of young people venting out frustrations against capitalism which daily bestows upon them medals of hunger, joblessness, marginalisation and racial exclusion stormed the major cities in Britain. These revolts follow the students' revolt last year, which was a consequence of the tripling of higher education fees in Britain and the cutting of the Education Maintenance Grant. The media feeds us images of criminality and lawlessness - depicting those who are resisting their marginalisation by capitalism as directionless acts of criminality. But as one observer notes

"The anarchy of the market is far more devastating than the supposed anarchy on the streets. The bankers and businessmen, who continue to grab bonuses even as wages are hammered, have enriched themselves more effectively than any looter."

We are inspired by the struggle by the Chilean students and workers who have taken to the streets to defend public education and oppose the proliferation of private and profit driven schools and universities. The students in this country are fighting against the inequalities between private and public education and are demanding that government must make scholarships available in order to allow poor students entry into institutions of higher learning.

Comrade Chairperson, Swaziland we have recently learned that the ANC government has chosen to give a loan of R 2.4 billion to the Tinkundla dictatorship in Swaziland. This was done against the demands of the people's organisations inside Swaziland, South African based solidarity organisations, civil society and Alliance partners. The so-called conditions attached by the South African government to the loan will not do much in forcing democratisation in Swaziland. The ANC government has once again ignored people's calls for a democratically elected National Constitutional Forum; the unbanning of political parties; unconditional release of political prisoners; and the immediate removal of all laws that prohibit free political activities and ban the rights to associate, organise and speak freely.

Comrades, International Work is one of the pillars of SASCO. The NEC is aware of the work that this Province has been doing on the international front. We are aware of the Israeli Students' tour and how they have come to our country to polish apartheid Israel's image. We commend the PEC for leading the campaign against Zionism and fully agree that as students born out of the struggle against apartheid we can fully identify with the plight of the Palestinian people.

Apartheid Israel commits injustices against Palestinians by denying them freedom of movement, citizenship rights, land and the right to belong. Under Israeli occupied territories, Palestinians live daily with the fear of being bombed. Generations and generations of Palestinians live and grow up in refugee camps. In a similar way that black South Africans were allocated the most barren and sterile of land - Palestinians occupy land that is not suitable for agricultural purposes. The Jewish settlement expansion policy engulfs more Palestinian land on a daily basis. We want to join the PEC in saying that apartheid agents are indeed not welcome on our campuses.

Comrade delegates, we meet here today when the contradictions between the capitalist class and the working class are sharpening. We have witnessed how the capitalist class and those who command in its name continue to get rich and reward itself and its stooges with big bonuses when workers struggle to meet their basic needs.

Promises about land redistribution are yet to be realised. The monopoly industries in mining and banking still have a stranglehold on our economy. The people are not really governing! The decisions that affect the working class are made elsewhere - in the boardrooms and the lavish corridors of the Union buildings - without input from the working class. Contract work is still the order of the day, thanks to labour brokering, subcontracting and casual work. In summary comrades, the society envisaged in the Freedom Charter is yet to be realised.

At the same time, we are confronted with increased penetration of bourgeois values into our movement. We have those who use family ties to enrich themselves and use political office and their proximity to the movement to get access to state resources and loot. Is it not time to ponder seriously about revolutionary morality and what this means?

Unaccredited Institutions

The campaign against bogus academic institutions is one that is at the heart of this province. In the city centres in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni and Vaal we find these un-credited institutions that milk working class students of their money and crash their hopes of ever accessing higher education. This is why we are saying that free quality public education must be at the centre of our campaigns. The media reports around the TUT Vice Chancellor and the alleged fake qualifications he holds are a cause for concern and should be deliberately in this meetings.

Fee Increments

One is puzzled at how there can be resolutions by the ruling party of this country about free education, education for peoples power, yet year in year out fees continue to increase. Allowing fee increments whilst the ANC government has committed to providing free education for the poor is gross negligence as it means that increased NSFAS allocations are merely spent on financing above inflation increments instead of increasing the number of students who benefit from the scheme.

We must also express disappointment at the fact that the ANC government, instead of fully implementing the NSFAS Review Report, especially the recommendations around free education, has chosen instead of taking the easy way out. This easy way out comes in the form committing to fund final year academically deserving students. We can't help but ask: how did the state come to this conclusion? How will this assist in removing the barriers to entry and success in higher education such as high registration fees and the lack of adequate academic support services? This shows us that only through struggle will we get free education.

SRC Elections

As the season of SRC elections comes closer we remind branches to let their campus work be the recruitment as well as the campaign drive building up to the elections. As we deploy and elect we should be mindful of the fact that SRC elections is not a popularity contest, this is the time to have selfless cadres who have proved beyond reasonable doubt that this warm bodies that we take to lead and represent SASCO are indeed sober.

Privatisation and outsourcing

Privatization and outsourcing of services that are required in our institutions of higher learning perpetuates the capitalistic strength to undermine and oppress the working class and the poor. Delegates as the SASCO argued that the services such as catering, cleaning services, security should be incorporated as core services of institutions of higher learning, as a clean and safe learning environment, adequate and affordable nutrition are part of the necessities required in the learning process.

Comrade delegates, this province faced the biggest problems in terms of registration and access in the beginning of this year. This is not surprising as Gauteng is indeed the economic hub of the country and many young hopefuls yearn to study in this province. The PGC must consider how we can form working relations with COSAS to find ways to stem this problem and advocate for increased access and expansion of higher education institutions in this province.

Women Emancipation

A few days ago was the commemoration of the August 9 Women's 1956 march to Pretoria. We would be doing a great injustice if we do not recognise the fact that Capitalism thrives on women's oppression.

Under neoliberal capitalism - the cost of the reproduction of labour power - is significantly borne by the working class.

Under neoliberal capitalism and the commodification of basic necessities like electricity and water, the women's struggle has been taken so far back.

This is why we are convinced that capitalism will never realise gender equality under capitalism. This, comrades, doesn't mean we must stop struggling for certain reforms, fold our arms, and wait for a socialist society! Socialism gives us a better platform from which to advance the women's struggle - but women's emancipation will be a by-product of socialism.

In the current period we must continue to fight against patriarchy in our institutions of higher learning. We must raise question about why are most of our professors are white males? Why are we some faculties, especially those known to be providing scarce skills, producing male graduates in the main? Why rape and sexual harassment still happens in our campuses. We must find ways of challenging this in our campaigns anchored around the pillar of campus work. This year marks the 20th anniversary of SASCO and we can certainly learn a lot from our campaigns in the early 1990s against the expulsion of pregnant female students from teacher colleges.

Comrades, SASCO is not some pure space free and unaffected by patriarchy. We have an organisation where beneath a paper commitment and lip service to non-sexism, patriarchal attitudes prevail with little contestation. To sound politically correct comrades pledge their commitment to the gender struggle whilst their practice says something else. In some instances women are reduced to post-meeting pleasure. Statements such as "can leadership be catered for" -have become normal. We must speak about these things with honesty in order to confront them head-on.

With these words, the NEC wishes you a successful PGC, robust in debate and discussions