The civil war is ‘inevitable’
It was the fight between black students and black police members that led black parents and former student leaders in the 1980s to come on board to help find a “lasting solution” to what seemed to be a civil war. Consequently, and very cunningly too, this tension came to be characterised as so-called black-on-black violence – a proclamation that, in the very least, demonised black people in the interest of protecting white elite staff and students.
Since that day, black parents – led by Professor Pitika Ntuli, Advocate Dali Mpofu and Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana – started to get publicly and openly involved.
It must be said that many parents have been helping students in many ways in the struggle for free education in South Africa during the #FeesMustFall student protests. The principal aim of the parents was to find a solution to what seemed to be a cauldron of brewing angst and indignation among South Africans – a civil war waiting to happen.
In many ways, the violent confrontation between black students and black police at the University of the Witwatersrand last year is a precursor and metaphor for the inevitable and forthcoming wave of violence and contempt by generations of oppressed and silenced South Africans.
The contemporary student protests, juxtaposed with their interconnection with struggles of black people in apartheid, are plausible indications of the full-blown civil war that this country will have to face in the near future.
Furthermore, this future civil war will be led by the poorest of the poor who are at the periphery of our society and who have been waiting there for the promise of total freedom in our lifetime as pronounced by those who ascended to political power in 1994.
Late last year, retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke joined what was an already existing support of black parents for the call of free education. At that moment of his participation in facilitating a way forward, parental involvement grew exponentially in the struggle of students and workers; not limited to this, he approached other equally eminent South Africans to help him to convene the National Education Crisis Forum.
The eminent co-conveners of the forum are Mpumlwana, Ntuli, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Jabu Mabuza, Sello Hatang, Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, Jay Naidoo, Mary Metcalfe and Santie Botha. Naturally, student activists at the onset questioned the open involvement of these eminent South Africans after almost two years of struggle without help.
It was during these warnings of beware of “izicima mlilo” (firefighters) of the “dangerous black middle class” and their pacifying and derailing tactics under the banner of “finding lasting solutions”, only to push towards the very status quo that we seek to fundamental change.
The Western Cape #FeesMustFall leadership requested a meeting with Moseneke and it was during that meeting that the fears of those who had scepticism about the forum were laid to rest by the charming passion of the former deputy chief justice.
Part of the agreement was that the coconveners would help to mediate and solve all #FeesMustFall-related challenges that students and workers were facing at university level due to protests about challenges students and workers face at universities.
These challenges included the #FreeEducation question, the #EndOutSourcing question, the financial and academic exclusions of students, and other legal issues that related to #FeesMustFall protests, both internal and external.
To get to the point, one of the reasons that led to the forum being disrupted was that the conveners opted to include the delegations of political partyassociated students as opposed to the #FeesMustFall leaders. In previous meetings with the forum, the delegates were invited on the basis that they were delegated by #FeesMustFall from their campuses. It is a well-known reality that #FeesMustFall activists are, by and large, members of political parties. However, they were never invited to the forum activities as members of their political parties. The reason for that is that students who are affiliated with political parties find it hard to work together and, therefore, it was only in #FeesMustFall that black students from different political parties were able (not without challenges) to work together.
The conveners made the mistake of inviting political parties, as well as AfriForum.
From the #FeesMustFall position, it seems that the forum is in itself a platform for consolidation of civil society so that it can rally behind the banner of #FeesMustFall in an aid to collectively fight for free education as a South African society.
The question remains: Does the forum have the required capacity and pedigree needed to lobby government to give time frames? Maxwele is a student activist based at University
of Cape Town and community organiser