The price of be­ing the boss

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call­ing for Price to be ar­rested for un­due use of force against protest­ing stu­dents.

Western Cape po­lice spokesper­son An­dre Traut con­firmed that charges of in­tim­i­da­tion, as­sault and ma­li­cious dam­age to prop­erty had been laid, but would not con­firm if charges had been laid against Price, or what would con­sti­tute enough ev­i­dence for an ar­rest.

De­spite the call from the #RhodesMust­Fall pro­test­ers for Price to re­sign from his po­si­tion, he be­lieves that he has the con­fi­dence of the coun­cil and se­nate.

“I have pro­moted an ad­mis­sions qual­ity that has ad­mit­ted more black stu­dents to the univer­sity than it ever had be­fore. I have driven a fi­nan­cial aid pol­icy, which is the only one in the coun­try that guar­an­tees that all stu­dents who are ad­mit­ted on aca­demic grounds, we will find the fi­nan­cial aid for them. No stu­dent is turned away,” he says, call­ing his achieve­ment a “pretty good” track record.

On whether or not a white male should be the vice-chan­cel­lor of a South African in­sti­tu­tion given the cur­rent cli­mate, Price said that trans­for­ma­tion was not the work of black peo­ple alone.

“It is cer­tainly the job of white peo­ple as well, and I have al­ways been com­mit­ted to a non­ra­cial and demo­cratic South Africa – since my youth.”

Price be­lieves there are more dif­fer­ences than sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the cur­rent wave of stu­dent ac­tivism and that of the 1976 move­ment, which he was part of as a Wits stu­dent. He says the coun­try is in a dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ment un­der demo­cratic rule. The elec­toral sys­tem also works along­side the free­dom of speech and an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­ciary.

“There is a so­cial compact now, which says we give up the right to use force to change the govern­ment, be­cause if you don’t, then you have lost the rule of law and you don’t have a mech­a­nism,” he says.

“I would be very dis­tressed if peo­ple draw that anal­ogy and say that le­git­imises this kind of protest. Univer­si­ties in par­tic­u­lar are here to solve prob­lems through de­bate and through think­ing and through ideas.”

When asked what has char­ac­terised and con­tin­ued to fuel protest ac­tion across the coun­try, Price says a num­ber of agen­das have fallen un­der one um­brella.

“In many cam­puses, the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) is a sig­nif­i­cant agenda. They ob­vi­ously want to build up sup­port for the lo­cal au­thor­ity elec­tions,” he says.

As a re­sult, the EFF can use its cam­paign to show that the ANC is not se­ri­ous about its prom­ise of free education, and that the EFF will se­cure that for the peo­ple.

Price also cites the push for in­sourc­ing and the lan­guage pol­icy de­bate at some in­sti­tu­tions, as well as an ide­o­log­i­cal strain, which sug­gests that the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion did not achieve what it set out to achieve, and that the set­tle­ment in 1994 was a sell­out. Ac­cord­ing to that thought, real change has not oc­curred with­out a vi­o­lent rev­o­lu­tion.

He says some stu­dents who come from town­ships have seen the ser­vice-de­liv­ery protests, they have seen the cor­rup­tion, the lack of na­tional lead­er­ship, the lack of real change in their lives, and this makes it easy for them to say “we need to dis­rupt the sys­tem”.

“It is al­most dis­rup­tion for the sake of dis­rup­tion,” says Price.

PHOTO: LEÁNNE STANDER

COURAGE UN­DER FIRE Univer­sity of Cape Town vice-chan­cel­lor Max Price

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