Stu­dents’ anger mir­rors dis­con­tent in com­mu­ni­ties

CityPress - - Voices - LUZUKO BUKU voices@city­ Buku is the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the SA Stu­dents’ Congress

UP IN FLAMES Me­dunsa stu­dents have been protest­ing

for more than a week

It goes with­out say­ing that the vi­o­lent protests in many of our cam­puses, with the Tsh­wane Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (TUT) be­ing the lat­est and most ab­hor­rent, are not some­thing we should be happy with.

We should not iso­late th­ese in­ci­dents from the vi­o­lent protests in many of our com­mu­ni­ties.

Itap­pears­many peo­ple be­lieve that rais­ing their griev­ances via the av­enues pro­vided by the law is lim­it­ing. The sad case is that more of­ten than not, prop­er­tygetsvan­dalised, and peo­ple lose their lives or suf­fer life-chang­ing in­juries.

Sim­plis­tic peo­ple – most of them young, re­tired rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies and ac­tive tech­no­cratic bu­reau­crats – fail to ap­proach the dis­cus­sion from this an­gle. As a re­sult, they end up mak­ing con­cep­tu­ally weak and short-sighted analy­ses.

The stu­dents’ frus­tra­tion against the poverty they en­dure in univer­si­ties and col­leges is part of the over­all frus­tra­tion of our peo­ple against the sys­tem of ne­olib­eral cap­i­tal­ism.

I be­lieve this is the con­text in which the mass protests tak­ing place in our in­sti­tu­tions of higher learn­ing should be an­a­lysed. Of course, there are other causes for th­ese and we can­not re­move the ques­tion of crim­i­nal in­tent in some of the protests.

We be­lieve the po­lice should deal with th­ese cases of crim­i­nal be­hav­iour.

Part of the cause of vi­o­lent out­breaks is the lack of lead­er­ship in many univer­si­ties and col­leges.

For in­stance, TUT has a vice-chan­cel­lor with a bloated ego who does not be­lieve she should sit at the same ta­ble with stu­dents or union lead­ers. So this closes down op­por­tu­ni­ties for her to know the chal­lenges the stu­dents face and to de­sign mea­sures to avert them. She also fails to man­age a protest when it has started.

There are many cases like th­ese in our in­sti­tu­tions and when protests hap­pen, we ne­glect to men­tion them. The other par­ties who should be blamed for fu­elling vi­o­lence are the po­lice and the se­cu­rity guards at our in­sti­tu­tions.

Po­lice are quick to shoot at peace­fully protest­ing stu­dents, which leads to anger among them. The idea of quickly quash­ing a peace­ful protest soon leads to a day of stu­dent un­rest.

The po­lice also dam­age the prop­erty of the in­sti­tu­tion by fir­ing rub­ber bul­lets at the cam­pus.

We of­ten have to deal with cases where po­lice have shot a stu­dent through a win­dow of their room. In some cases, th­ese stu­dents were not even part of the protest.

Beyond this, it ap­pears that the pa­tience of South African stu­dents at the ne­olib­eral ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, which was sus­tained­by­faithand­ho­peaftertheap­point­mento­fa­com­mu­nist min­is­ter of higher ed­u­ca­tion, is be­gin­ning to fade.

Stu­dents have been yearn­ing for a fair op­por­tu­nity to re­ceive their ed­u­ca­tion, but it does not ap­pear to be forth­com­ing.

Our depart­ment of higher ed­u­ca­tion seems to be op­er­at­ing within the ne­olib­eral man­i­festo that dis­cour­ages in­creased stu­dent fund­ing.

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