28/02/2016. Gauteng ANC and alliance partners, AfriForum, AfriForum Youth and Solidarity address the media about the ongoing tensions at the University of Pretoria. Picture: Masi Losi
28/02/2016. Gauteng ANC and alliance partners, AfriForum, AfriForum Youth and Solidarity address the media about the ongoing tensions at the University of Pretoria. Picture: Masi Losi

ANC, AfriForum join hands against varsity violence

By African News Agency Time of article published Feb 29, 2016

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Cape Town - In an unusual show of unity, the ANC and its alliance partners joined hands with AfriForum and Solidarity to denounce violence and disruption of classes recently witnessed at the University of Pretoria (UP).

ANC Gauteng secretary Hope Papo told reporters in Pretoria that provincial representatives of institutions, including the SA Communist Party, Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), SA National Civic Association (Sanco), ANC Youth League, and the SA Students’ Congress (Sasco) held consultations and secured agreements with AfriForum, AfriForum Youth, and trade union Solidarity on the campus violence.

“The parties noted that these backward and regrettable practices have also led to conduct that threatened life and property. It was engineered by opportunists with no track record of providing credible leadership and workable solutions where these are required,” said Papo.

“The parties agreed that without decisive and strategic leadership on the university campus, the situation has the potential to polarise the university along racial lines and create a deep-seated grievance that may continue to pose a real danger to the future stability and unity of the university.”

Numerous UP students were arrested and charged with violence after racially-charged brawls erupted at the university’s Hatfield and Groenkloof campuses this month. The violence followed students’ protests against the institution’s proposed language policy amendment.

Academic activities at the two campuses were suspended following violent clashes between AfriForum Youth and EFF Student Command (EFFSC).

The proposals were that English be used as a primary language of instruction in all lectures, and that Afrikaans and Sepedi be used for additional support to students in tutorials and practicals.

However, some student organisations, such as the Pan Africanist Students’ Movement of Azania (PASMA), EFFSC, and Sasco indicated that they were not happy with the proposed amendments and wanted English to be used as the only medium of instruction in the institution’s academic activities.

On Sunday, Papo said violence and destruction of university property would not be tolerated.

“Those people who do those things must be held accountable from now on. We can’t allow people to destroy our country under our watch, including our universities. Transformation must be at the centre of discussions at universities and there is no rector at any university saying they are not prepared to create an environment for dialogue at universities,” said Papo.

“We all have been to university. You can’t say because you don’t have a textbook you torch the administration building. I was in the student movement myself in the 1980s. We never destroyed any administration building (even) in the midst of apartheid. How do you burn a bus which transports the majority of black students?”

Papo said calls for Afrikaans “to fall” were misplaced. “What we will not accept is an unconstitutional decision by any university to abolish any language without any engagement. Universities must contribute to the development of indigenous languages by translating them into languagesof commerce and politics. You don’t start by advantaging one language at the expense of another.

“It’s not our policy to call for the falling of one language to advantage another,” said Papo.

“We are not going to die for English. It is one of the recognised languages in South Africa but we will not call for a war because of English. We think English and Afrikaans are African languages… there should be work done to develop all other languages in South Africa.”

AfriForum’s chief executive Kallie Kriel said the parties fully supported the envisaged resumption of classes at UP on Monday.

“Quality education is the only ladder out of poverty and unemployment. Many studies have clearly shown that there is a direct link between your level of education and your chances in life. Education determines your security of employment, level of income and your ability to provide for yourself and your loved ones,” said Kriel.

“We cannot sit idle on the side and see our university sliding into chaos, anarchy replacing an academic environment and the safety of our students and staff compromised.

“Our students, our country and our university deserve better. We are demonstrating our support to the university, the SA Police Service and academic staff and students of the university.”

The embattled university is set to resume classes on Monday with heightened security measures in place.

ANCYL deputy chairman in Gauteng Vuyo Mhaga said discussions on transformation should be debated within conducive environments.

“We must put issues on the table and engage on the fundamentals of transformation in South Africa.

“We must do that in a conducive environment when everyone is there, not where people speak of a war as if they have ever went to war.

“The majority of us have not been to war and those who have been there, I don’t think they want to go back there.

“Let’s be responsible about what we are doing. It is quite serious and there are a lot of fanatics.”

SACP Gauteng provincial secretary Jacob Mamabolo said the parties would be at UP this week “to defend the right to learn, the right to work and an undisturbed, free and democratic life”.


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