No meaningful clemency and reconciliation at the University of Cape Town (UCT) without consultation, knowledge-transparency and representation
Some questions for the UCT Executive and its myriad of spokespeople.
So, once again, the UCT Executive wants to grant clemency to repeated, unapologetic lawbreakers, some of whom will negotiate the future of UCT. What are their names? Please list their offenses.
Why take this action? Is it to carrying on further ‘negotiations’ to determine UCT’s future?
First, who is negotiating UCT’s future? What is their mandate? Whom do they represent? Will their ‘electorate’ honour their commitments?
On the UCT side of the table is “management” limply endorsed by senior academics (Senate) and UCT’s governing body (Council). Please provide the names and portfolios of these managers other than yourself. Whom (if anyone) represents the rank-and-file academics, non-academic support staff, alumni, fee-paying parents, donors and the vast “silenced” majority of students (even protesters) who overwhelmingly and desperately want (fruitlessly demanding a referendum to prove this) to get on with research and education? What about representation from the Department of Higher Education?
Who is on the other side of the table? The only one for sure is Masixole Mlandu, a chap who’s broken the law repeatedly, only to be bailed out (opposed by the State) with the approval of the “management”. What are his (and the others’) credentials and mandates?
By the way, what’s happened about renaming Jameson Hall? The UCT Community was promised substantive feedback on this months ago.
What we are told is that there is “sufficient common ground for us to reach agreement on a set of principles”. What is this “common ground” and what are the “principles”?
Despite this pervasive absence of knowledge, without consulting the “silenced majority”, the “management”, “in the spirit of restorative justice (RJ) that takes into account the prevailing context of student protest at UCT” has negated decisions taken by duly constituted Student Disciplinary Tribunals and ”granted clemency” to lawbreakers. Why use the words “spirit of”, when RJ is a concrete approach to justice that focuses on active reconciliation between the victims and the offenders, as well as the active involvement of the affected community. The process of RJ is not just ‘contextual’. It involves offenders taking responsibility for specific actions, showing remorse and apologizing. In short, is any of this stuff going to happen?
Is this RJ being implemented so that negotiations (involving some of those pardoned) can establish an Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC)? Or, is it another sop to buy time for peace during the examination period?
What are the terms of reference (TOR) of the IRTC? Who will sit on it? What if the SRC “candidates” are not successful in their bids for election? What is the role of the ITRC “commissioners”? Who will the members/commissioners represent? Will they undertake to foreswear intimidation and violence as means to ends and condemn and expose those who do not? Who are the “various stakeholders” to be consulted? Does it have a non-negotiable deadline to ‘deliver the no-fee/decolonized goods’? Is the two-week deadline for production of the TOR really ‘real’? If it is not met, what happens? What is meant by “look into” the ‘Shackville protests?
How can the IRTC make “recommendations on institutional culture, transformation, decolonization, discrimination, identity, disability and any other matters” when many of these are at best nebulously defined yet alone understood? Will the proposed “university-wide meetings/seminars” simply be a repetitions of the hijacked assemblage held in Jameson Hall to allow discussion/debate on the removal of Rhodes’ statue?
Who are the experts who will sit on the IRTC who can develop “a coherent policy on funding higher education and advocacy for free decolonised education”. Who will run the “ongoing research program into the economic policy framework for higher education” and who/what will fund the proposed “dedicated unit”? Is it reasonable to expect Council members to actively “engage with government” given their real-world commitments?
I guess Lincoln was right when he said that you can fool all of the people some of the time.
Emeritus Prof. Tim Crowe