The Deputy President Cde Tsakani Shiviti.
The Secretary General Cde Tembani Makata.
National Executive Committee Members present here.
Progressive Youth Alliance Leaders present here.
The: ANC. COSATU. SACP
The Convocation of SASCO present with us today.
Most importantly SASCO members, the soul-owners of this giant student organization.
Comrades and friends, I wish to extend warm revolutionary greetings from the 19th National Executive Committee of SASCO on this important day of the 26th Anniversary of SASCO.
We gather here today to celebrate the life of the revolutionary giant the South African Student Congress.
26 years ago about 600 delegates from all corners of South Africa gathered at Rhodes University Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape from the 1-6 of September to deliberate and come up with clear perspectives to shape higher-education sector in a new South Africa.
SASCO was then launched on the 6th of September after lengthy discussions between the South African National Students Congress (SANSCO) a predominantly black students organization and the National Union of South Africa (NUSAS) a white students organization with a view to forming a single non-racial and non-sexist student.
The launch of SASCO occurred amidst negotiations between National Party and the liberation movement about the future of South Africa where all people lived together in harmony and worked together for a prosperous South Africa regardless of their racial backgrounds. The launch then served as a torch bearer and clear vision to what was being crafted.
SASCO carries a history of being the radical and militant student movement without losing revolutionary morality and discipline. SASCO played a pivotal role in the defeat of the apartheid colonial order.
We remember when the ANC and other political parties were banned by the Apartheid government, it was the student movement that led boycotts, and many comrades who joined the uMkhonto WeSizwe were recruited from institutions of higher learning and high schools.
Ever since its formation, SASCO has always understood that the student related struggles are not immune from those confronting our society. Hence the Constitution of SASCO says, and I quote;
“committing ourselves to a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society free of exploitation and national oppression in which harmony amongst people will prevail, find it necessary to articulate the aspirations of the oppressed”
The word exploitation and oppression in this quote suggest SASCO’s understanding that South Africa is a class divided society and that colonisation did not happen organically but as a result of imperialist advancement.
One of SASCO principles says, and I quote “working class leadership”.This is a realization of the working class as the main motive force in the advancement of our revolution and that only the working class can liberate itself from the bondage of capitalist order.
Thus we have a bigger responsibility to validate the wisdom of the previous generations and strengthen the STUDENT-WORKER ALLIANCE.
As outshined in the SPOT document, SASCO still believes the National Democratic Revolution as the minimum program to address the interrelated challenges of gender, class, and race and pave the way for a socialist South Africa where access to basic needs is free regardless of gender, class and along racial lines.
SASCO has contributed immensely to the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution and has played a critical role in policy making of the ANC.
SASCO has been regarded as the reservoir of intellectuals for the broader mass democratic movement, because of its ability to produce cadres that are ideological sound and entrenched in revolutionary discipline.
As Marx argues, and I quote “everything that exists, exists out of necessity but equally everything that exists is bound to perish or transformed into something else”. Conditions necessitated for SASCO to be launched glued with the working-class theory because institutions of higher learning are a class contested terrain.
In the South African context, institutions of higher learning were an ivory tower accessible only to whites and the privileged.
SASCO was born out of the frustrations of the poor and the working class and over the past 26 years, we had run campaigns that seek to redress the injustices of the past both in our institutions and communities.
Comrades, as we celebrate 26years of our existence we must strengthen our campaigns against gender-based violence. In the past few months, we have seen the rise in the killing, assault, abduction of women especially young girls, this scourge is embedded in patriarchy as a form capitalist notion that seeks to maintain the current status core.
The recent stats reveal that the economy is still in the hands of the few whites and males in particular. Majority of black women are pushed to the peripheral lines of economic activities and reduced to domestic work as compared to their white counter part.
The door-to-door programs are not only for SRC elections comrades, we must inject energy in this campaign because many female students do not attend lectures because of the stigma of not having sanitary towels, some of them decide to have sugar-daddies “the so called blessers today” because of their socioeconomic status.
Since our birth, SASCO has played as a shield and spear of students and always advocated for their interests uncompromising, a responsibility we must continue to shoulder.
Over the past years we have scored a number of victories amongst others are;
On the call for Free Quality Education:
- Access has improved, today we are seating at around million of students in the institutions of higher learning and training with blacks around 70%
- The poor and the working class students are assisted with meals, book allowances, transport and accommodation through bursary schemes and loans, which allows students to shop in the retail market, like shop rite and Pick and Pay.
- We fought against fee increases as a result as from 2018 students whose family income is 150 000 will receive full complement bursaries, the beginning of free quality education.
- We have seen strides to address the curriculum content, black people are entering into academic spaces and some of the modules particularly in the TVET sector had been phased out, our representation in CHE.
- We have seen the merger of a number of institutions from technikons and universities.
- Demerger of MEDUNSA from the University of Limpopo and the creation of the new Sefako Makgatho Health Science University.
- Improved and increased student accommodation, with clear norms and standards.
- The building of Two new Universities in NC and MP, and 12 new TVET colleges campuses.
- Improved lecture venues and halls, with equip and necessary technologies.
On Campaigns and Community work
- We have participated in campaigns against the HIV and AIDS pandemic, as a result majority of young people are aware of the scourge and its dangers.
- The government has created institutions to curb the pandemic – DP office lead the AIDS campaign, and DHET has its own HEAIDS programs dealing with gender based violence and awareness program across our institutions.
- We, today, have flavoured condoms in our institutions, as part of our struggle, Cdes of DUT, your struggle was not in vain.
- We ran a successful RTCL campaign in high schools and communities, to promote access to colleges and universities
- Participated in all trade union and progressive forces programs that have seen workers receive minimum wage.
On policy and Campus work
- SASCO has participated fervently in some crafting of university policies ranging from academic boards, housing, Senate’s, faculties, institutional forums, and councils.
- We have had a successful RTLC campaign to assist our fellow brothers to access institutions of higher learning and training.
- We continue to work with government and parliament to input on youth and student policies, we clearly expressed our views on fess commission, ministerial committee on new student model, Amendments of various HE and training Acts
- Day to day servicing of students in branches continues, supported by Regions, provinces and national office
On Ideological and international work
The two conferences have seen disruptions and as result could not be able to deal with the core business of crafting policies that will guide the functioning of the organization and its ideological outlook. The NGC has since addressed this challenge, these are amongst other things we have been able to do;
- Running of political classes and induction before Congresses from branch to National.
- Launch of the new website to allow comrades to share their views, we encourage even Convocation to partake and contribute.
- The launch of the website has assisted also in boosting our communication.
- We have worked with trade unions and BDSA in the campaign against apartheid Israel
- We since initiated the rejuvenation of SASU which has seen President of SASCO as Chair, DP as Treasurer, and Joy Phiri as an executive member.
These are amongst the achievement we got as the student movement, this achievement came as a result of selflessness, sacrifice, and dedication from our members.
We wish to encourage you comrades to work hard to keep the gigantic student organization of Sphiwe Zuma, Claude Qavane, Wanga Sigila, Xola Nene, Bathandwa Ndondo, Kgomotso Mogeore and Babalwa Ntabeni Alive and strong for another donkey years. You must never lose the sharp teeth.
The struggle continues, You must never lose the sharp teeth…
We re-commit to strengthen our fighting capacity for quality of student services, for the expansion of the higher education system, for the improvement and better services in the TVET sector.The struggle against financial and academic exclusions, skyrocketing fees, racism and sexism in institutions of higher learning remain the key focus of our program.
We celebrate this milestone in a year where Oliver Tambo would have turned 100 years, Tambo remains an inspiration to many South Africans for his commendable contribution towards the liberation of South Africans against the oppressive colonial rule.
Cde O R Tambo in closing Morogoro Conference in 1969 had this to say
“Be vigilant, comrades. The enemy is vigilant. Beware of the wedge-driver, the man who creeps from ear to ear, carrying a bag full of wedges, driving them in between you and the next man, between one group and another. A man who goes around creating splits and divisions. Beware of the wedge driver comrades. Watch his poisonous tongue.”
In honour of O R Tambo, we commit to strengthen unity within the organization, let us all channel our energy towards building and maintaining the unity of this glorious.
We draw closer to the National Congress, we must apply these wise words, safeguard the interest of the student movement at all material times and close our ranks.
We salute the generations before us that have contributed towards the building of this gigantic student organization without expected remuneration, their contribution will never go unnoticed.
We celebrate this Anniversary whilst we are also busy with SRC elections for the year 2017. We wish to congratulate all branches that have gone to elections already, we have received reports of about 5 institutions and we have won with absolute majority 4 of 5 institutions. You have given all our fallen heroes an assurance that their movement is still on track and alive.
Students have chosen us over all students formations because they have confidence in our capacity to best represent their interests. We must never take this responsibility for granted, all deployees of SASCO should be characterized by their appetite to serve students without a motive of material gain or benefit.
You must always put the interest of SASCO and students in general first at all material times.Reality imposes on us the obligation to wage the most protracted of all the struggles of the peoples for us to achieve our liberation.
SASCO should continue to be consistent defenders of students and fight for absolute transformation of higher education sector to be accessible to the poor masses of our people.
The Struggle Continues!
Victory is certain…