Be con­sis­tent, Habib urges lead­ers

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By SUE MACLEN­NAN

Mass ac­tion and mo­bil­i­sa­tion is es­sen­tial for so­cial jus­tice was the mes­sage of aca­demic, ac­tivist and po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Adam Habib at Kingswood Col­lege’s Neil Aggett Memo­rial Lec­ture on 27 Septem­ber.

The school hosts the lec­ture an­nu­ally in hon­our of for­mer pupil who died as an ac­tivist in the anti-apartheid strug­gle.

Habib used his ex­pe­ri­ence of the Fees Must Fall strug­gle to il­lus­trate the power of so­cial ac­tivism.

“In 10 days the stu­dents achieved what vice chan­cel­lors had been try­ing to do for the past 10 years,” he said, de­scrib­ing the pres­sure on ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions as their man­date grew, while state sub­si­dies re­mained static.

How­ever, Habib em­pha­sised that in any strug­gle, the means is as im­por­tant as the ends.

“So­cial ac­tion can­not be un­qual­i­fied,” Habib said. “If you are vi­o­lent, you un­der­mine the rights of the in­sti­tu­tional com­mu­nity.”

Habib con­demned the de­struc­tion of R800 mil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture at South African uni­ver­si­ties dur­ing the Fees Must Fall cam­paign.

“The ac­tion you take must be com­pat­i­ble with the out­come,” he said.

Habib cut no ice about the du­plic­ity of some of the stu­dent ac­tivists who, he said, said one thing pub­licly and an­other pri­vately.

“There were stu­dent lead­ers who pub­licly con­demned the se­cu­rity mea­sures put in place dur­ing the protests – yet in pri­vate ex­pressed grat­i­tude that their safety was as­sured,” he said.

“There were stu­dent lead­ers who pub­licly called for the boy­cotting of ex­ams, yet pri­vately asked to write theirs,” he re­vealed.

“A leader must be con­sis­tent in their pub­lic and pri­vate en­gage­ments,” Habib said. “Ac­tivists must prac­tice a pol­i­tics dif­fer­ent to that prac­ticed in the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sys­tem.”

Deputy Head Boy Eti­enne Marais and Danielle Gries­sel, who is chair­per­son of the In­ter­act Com­mit­tees of Gra­ham­stown, were the joint re­cip­i­ents of this year’s Neil Aggett Memo­rial award

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.