Rev­o­lu­tion­ary at fore­front of CPUT re­volt

‘Pro­pa­ganda’ slams ed­u­ca­tion fees

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ASANDA SOKANYILE

THE MAN ac­cused of in­cit­ing the re­cent violence and van­dal­ism at the Cape Penin­sula Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (CPUT) says he is a rev­o­lu­tion­ary, and that all he cares about is be­ing an ad­vo­cate for stu­dents and the poor.

Known by his alias Pro­pa­ganda (his real name is known to Week­end Ar­gus), the 32-year-old, who is a for­mer stu­dent of Wal­ter Sisulu Univer­sity in Mthatha and of CPUT, also said if the CPUT vice chan­cel­lor had heeded his warn­ings, none of the violence would have fol­lowed.

“All of this hap­pened be­cause of him ( Dr Prins Nevhutalu), and him in­ter­dict­ing my­self and my fel­low com­rades. Had I been there, none of the van­dal­ism would have hap­pened be­cause we would have been able to calm the stu­dents who felt cor­nered by the po­lice.”

Ex­ams at CPUT were post­poned this week to Jan­uary fol­low­ing the van­dal­ism of an exam venue at the Bel­lville cam­pus, the lat­est in a string of in­ci­dents.

A to­tal of 43 pro­test­ers were ar­rested in the clashes. They ap­peared in the Bel­lville Mag­is­trate’s Court this week and were re­leased on bail.

As Week­end Ar­gus spoke to Pro­pa­ganda, the in­ter­view was in­ter­rupted by pass­ing stu­dents want­ing to talk to him, point­ing to the es­teem in which he is held on cam­pus.

He is a for­mer me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing stu­dent and elec­toral com­mit­tee mem­ber of the PAC stu­dent body Pan African­ist Stu­dent Move­ment of Aza­nia (Pasma).

“If a strug­gle in­volves all stu­dents and the fight is a gen- uine one, then I will definitely be part of it. Be­ing poor is a great mo­ti­va­tor of many things, in­clud­ing anger, and I refuse to understand why peo­ple must be poor and be ex­cluded in things that would ac­tu­ally as­sist in the uplift­ment of their sit­u­a­tions, in this case ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

He de­scribed ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion fees as a “sys­tem de­signed to ex­clude the poor from up­lift­ing them­selves”.

“It is the duty of any rev­o­lu­tion­ary to rev­o­lu­tion­alise against the un­just sys­tem,” Pro­pa­ganda said.

Born and raised in Mthatha, Pro­pa­ganda said he had worked on con­struc­tion sites and as a taxi driver for sev­eral years to se­cure the funds to reg­is­ter at Wal­ter Sisulu Univer­sity. But be­cause he was a walkin stu­dent and had not ap­plied for any spe­cific course, he found him­self in the me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing fac­ulty “try­ing to claw my way out of poverty, through ed­u­ca­tion”.

Of his pop­u­lar­ity on the CPUT cam­pus, Pro­pa­ganda said it was the re­sult of his be­ing able to “re­late to the pain felt by stu­dents”.

“Stu­dents have faith in me. I don’t lead from heaven; I am with them on the ground. I understand what they are go­ing through and speak the same lan­guage.”

He also de­nied any po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion, say­ing he was only in­ter­ested in and sup­port­ive of the “Aza­nian ide­ol­ogy which hap­pens to have been adopted by Pasma”.

“I can’t join the EFF be­cause then I will be led by co­conuts like Julius Malema who claim to be poor but are not, so they can never truly understand the strug­gle of the poor. And I can’t join the ANC be­cause, well…”

Pro­pa­ganda said his pas­sion lay with law, and that his dream was to be­come an ad­vo­cate so he could fight for the rights of stu­dents.

“It is the duty of any rev­o­lu­tion­ary to lead by ex­am­ple and by en­sur­ing the change that he be­lieves in. I don’t see my­self making any sig­nif­i­cant change in the field of me­chan­i­cal engi­neer­ing, so I feel it would be a just cause that I be an ad­vo­cate for stu­dent rights.

“That is my task that I have tasked my­self with. I know it may not be easy and not be­cause of chal­lenges that may seek to drive me away from my task, but through cer­tain sit­u­a­tions which may arise caused by the task at hand,” he said.

Pro­pa­ganda is not al­lowed to en­ter the CPUT cam­pus thanks to an or­der se­cured against him.

asanda.sokanyil@inl.co.za

PIC­TURES: MICHAEL WALKER

COL­LAT­ERAL DAM­AGE: A stu­dent leaves the CPUT ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing on the Bel­lville cam­pus, which still bears re­minders of van­dal­ism and violence that halted ex­ams at the institution. Many win­dows were smashed by rock-throw­ing stu­dents.

LEADER: Pro­tester ‘Pro­pa­ganda’, who did not want his name pub­lished, says he is not at­tached to any po­lit­i­cal party and is act­ing only in the in­ter­est of needy stu­dents.

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