COSATU condemns the racists attacks on protesting students at UFS and other universities
The Congress of South African Trade Unions condemns the racist attacks on black students by some racist hooligans in the University of Free State and other universities. This arrogant act of bigotry and criminality needs to be dealt with swiftly by the law enforcement agencies. We call on workers and members of the communities to rally behind students against these racists and refuse to allow these universities to be turned into the last outposts of apartheid bigotry.
The recent incidents at UFS, UP and TUT ,where the nation saw students physically attacked follows the verbal and racist insults ,we have seen in the media and social media these past few weeks. These are the early signs of the emergence of a neo-Nazi phenomenon, which is emerging in many European countries and is gaining confidence. This must be crushed and defeated in South Africa.
As COSATU we will fight racism regardless of who is doing it and who is a victim, even if it is EFF ,who are known for their reckless ,unrestrained and over the top rhetoric.
There is no corner of this country that should be treated as a white enclave, where the apartheid racial policies and attitudes still thrive. We should not allow language exclusion of the black majority by any institution and there will be no university in this country that serves the minority at the exclusion of the majority.
The slow pace of transformation of higher education, ineffective land reform process and the failure to change the ownership and control patterns of the South African economy are the real reasons, why the white racist minority feels so emboldened. But the use of violence is the last straw and it’s something that does not just need condemnation but that needs to be fought against. An education system that is structured to serve any minority , needs to be dismantled not reformed.
The continued bias in career-pathing in favour of white men and white women ,and the limited career-pathing of ordinary workers in the economy ,are all the things that need to be done away with. COSATU fully supports the issues that are being raised by the students and demand that they be addressed urgently.
We find it hypocritical that someone as opinionated as Professor Jansen, who is forever pontificating endlessly about what needs to be done at a government level to fix things is failing to effect the same changes at the University of Free State.
University Vice Chancellors are all talk and no action and they have been exposed by the student protests. They have barricaded themselves behind police and security walls and are not behaving like people in charge of fountains of knowledge but like paranoid securocrats, running concentration camps. We challenge them to practice what they preach and stop commentating on problems that need their intervention.
We will be writing to ask for meetings with all affected institutions of higher learning . As COSATU ,we will not stand and remain neutral on the students struggles. We call on all our structures all over the country to work with SASCO in institutions of higher learning ,to intensify students struggles. We will not watch idly while our children are attacked by racists and we shall share the trenches of struggle with them.
Statement issued by COSATU, 23 February 2016