As today marks a full year since the signing of the “Agreement with the SRC Candidates/Shackville TRC and other student formations” (“the agreement”), contemplation of the contours of the agreement, implementation thereof, and the implications for UCT’s future
The impetus to the negotiations that produced the agreement was that most UCT operations in late 2016 had been shutdown by violent protests by a small group of disaffected “students”. Completion of the academic year was in peril, and VC Dr. Max Price elected to “engage” intensively with a number of students, all of whom had been involved, in one way or another, with the protests, and most of whom had been disciplined by the university, and/or had multiple criminal charges pending against them.
The negotiations spanned several weeks, culminating in The Agreement. During this period, the university remained shuttered, a consequence of which was that UCT was the only South Africa university that failed to complete the academic year in time, if at all in several departments.
From the outset, questions about the legitimacy of the negotiations, and the subsequent Agreement, were raised. Reference to “other student formations” was felt to be fundamentally flawed in that the only (student
s to them
Another concern was that the negotiations were held in secre, this veil being lifted only with publication of the signed Agreement.
Price also not only supported,
, (and repeatedly) violent demonstrator who was in police custody pending criminal charges of a serious nature. This individual was a member of the negotiating team, and signatory to The Agreement.
The cornerstone of the agreement is the establishment of an Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC). In order to constitutethis commission, a Steering Committee (
The SC’s mandate is
It is chaired by Sipho Pityana (Chair of the University Council
The SC’s first meeting was held on January 26,
xamination of meeting minutes, and report-backs by
, and some delegates to their constituencies (and inter se) , reveal a disturbing picture. While initially, all agreed that the SC’s brief was critical to the successful implementation of The Agreement, and that consensus building would prevail, later, cracks begin to appear in the façade of unity of purpose and amity of proceedings.
A raft of complaints and recriminations surfaced, with deep divisions, primarily between the student delegates and others, becoming evident. These ranged from the absurd (alleged mispronunciation of delegate names
Student delegates were accused of arriving late for meetings, leaving early, or not pitching up at all, affecting universally recognized quorum standards for voting. Consequentlyhe voting that did occur with regard to the drafting of the terms of reference for the commission ws thought by someto be fundamentally flawed in terms of quorum and voting percentages realized, not to mention the fact the vote took place at a “facilitated workshop”, not a meeting.
The most recent meeting of the Committee was held on Oct 31, ostensibly to elect commissioners. Instead, a discussion on the presence of private security on campus—a question completely outside the remit of the Committee—
And so, on the eve of the end of year examination period, there exists no agreement on who the commissioners to the IRTC will be, campus is yet again roiled by protests, with revolting and despicable acts of vandalism and exhibitionism, and most university functioning
It is clear that, as of now, the IRTC as envisioned by The Agreement will not be constituted any time soon, if at all, and campus has once again plunged into uncontrollable chaos.
The wisdom of a policy of appeasement in dealing with those bent on the destruction of UCT mustbe questioned, and those responsible (Price, Senior Executive, and Council)
In conclusion, the “peace” that was hoped to be achieved through the agreement appears to be in tatters. Whether the 2016