UCT lecture disrupted by Rhodes Must Fall

The University of Cape Town. File picture: Jason Boud

The University of Cape Town. File picture: Jason Boud

Published Oct 1, 2015


Cape Town - The student-led Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) movement on Wednesday interrupted the annual Nelson Mandela Foundation lecture at the University of Cape Town (UCT), calling the audience and panelists hypocritical.

“If they are concerned about inequality, they should be celebrating our protesting. Instead, they ignore our presence,” said RMF member and UCT Masters student Brian Kamanzi.

The annual lecture, which this year featured world-renowned economist Professor Thomas Piketty, was themed “Income, Wealth, and Persistent Inequality”. Alongside Piketty - who was patched in via livestream - was UCT’s Associate Professor Debbie Collier, the University of the Western Cape’s Professor Olajide Oloyede, and Stellenbosch University’s Kholekile Malindi.

Facilitating the discussion was Trevor Manuel, former finance minister and current Rothschild advisor and deputy chairman.

Kamanzi said Manuel chose to ignore the RMF members at the beginning of the lecture when they stood quietly in front of the audience assembled in UCT’s Jameson Hall.

“He had the opportunity to engage with us but chose not to,” said Kamanzi.

Later on, during Collier’s presentation on inequality, RMF members marched into the hall and onto the stage, singing liberation struggle songs.

When Manuel requested that the RMF members refrain from protesting, the students disregarded him.

Asked about this - and an earlier, similar incident with UCT’s Barney Pityana, important figure of the Black Consciousness Movement, where they demanded he leave the stage at a UCT discussion - Kamanzi said the movement did not see it as disrespecting struggle stalwarts.

Instead, they as protesting students should be celebrated, he insisted.

Kamanzi added that UCT, the audience, and the panelists were hypocrites, as workers - who were most affected by issues of inequality - were made to stand outside and not participate in the discussion.


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