Univen: EFF Student Command found wanting

SYM (square)

by Gilberto Matshephole Nchabeleng

The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC)-led Univen SRC is not a radical student movement but a populist movement established on individualism. It is well known that the previous SASCO-led SRC failed to eradicate of even address the destitute conditions which the Univen student population were faced with. The glaring poverty faced by our students compelled them to oust SASCO from the SRC and vote in the EFFSC as an alternative last year. The support for EFFSC reflected the students’ desire to change their circumstances.

But the fundamental question is: has the EFFSC, as a supposedly radical movement, answered the key strategic task faced by working class students ─ the creation of mass student movement based on a clear socialist programme? The answer to this question is a simple and straightforward NO!

The EFFSC failed to answer this key strategic task. Below we elaborate the failures of this ‘squabble movement’ which show that it does not have the students’ interests at heart but only the promotion of individualists.


Food & book allowances

We learnt with great disappointment that we’re now approaching the first quarter of the 2016 academic year but students have not yet received their food and book allowances. The lecturers have long issued the semester mark tests dates and assignment deadlines are already being set. What is it that the SRC is telling our students? Why is the SRC in solace when its constituency is suffering? Does the SRC grasp the great importance of academic duties?

The SRC made it clear that it does not care about its constituency, thus it is telling our female students that they must go to Khoroni road to sell their bodies in order to be able to purchase food and books! The SRC has made it clear that it encourages our male students to engage in robberies in order for them to raise money and be able to purchase these academic necessities. How do these pernicious activities which the SRC is encouraging help students with their academic studies?! The SRC is full of individualism, all the Cabinet members have received their Intel-Cards and they do not care about our students, hence they are relaxed.


Financial & academic exclusions

Last year during the canvassing period our students were told #Sizofunza ngenkani which promised that in the coming 2016 academic year there would be neither academic nor financial exclusion of students from poor working class families. What happened to this promise?! Why is it not catering for students?! We had vast academic exclusions. Sadly, these were mostly first year students entering the institution for the first time who tirelessly queued outside the campus with the sought after acceptance letters but were later told that the system is “quarter-full” which meant that they couldn’t register, and that they should go home.

What is sadder is that EFFSC-led SRC permitted the University’s neo-liberal policy of excluding the needy students to transpire. It is obvious that these academic exclusions emanate from financial exclusions resulting from the insufficient and exhausted National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Let the African child have access to free quality education in the post-Apartheid South Africa with no boundaries.


Failure to allow #OutsourcingMustFall protest

It is more saddening to realize that the “radical” EFFSC failed to be radical and support our parents’ protest that was demanding insourcing. The protest was supposed to take place on Wednesday but did not after the students came out telling the SRC that they will not join the protest as long as the issue of food & book allowances, fake student cards, expensive academic records and free access to clinic 24/7 is not addressed.

What is more amusing is the fact that the SRC wanted to use the #OutsourcingMustFall protest to raise these student issues. It is correct for students to link their issues with workers and wage a united struggle. But from the EEFSC-led SRC this became an excuse for not organising students and waging a struggle. Tragically, under their leadership the unity of workers and students has not been built.

This basically tells us that this “radical movement” does not have the capacity to represent the students or address their issues by taking them directly to management themselves but rather uses the workers’ protest to try fool the students that they are giving leadership!

SYM calls for:

  • Worker and student unity!
  • Joint protest of workers and students taking up the issues of financial exclusions, textbook and food allowance, insourcing and all other issues of concern to students and workers.
  • If the SRC will not lead struggle then students should call a campus-wide assembly and elect an accountable committee to take student issues forward.
  • Workers to form independent committees to organise and lead their struggle against outsourcing, linking up with the #OutsourcingMustFall campaign nationally and the students on campus.
  • Assist in the struggle to build a new mass revolutionary student organisation uniting all students