The price of being the boss
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.
COURAGE UNDER FIRE University of Cape Town vice-chancellor Max Price