Free Education: Generation Y has found its legitimate cause!

-Education must be freed from its privileged stance-

Unto each generation of people is given a mandate to fulfill. This is not new it was always this way and this era is no different.

In the last week we have seen flares of student unrest at tertiary institutions, which started at WITS University. In a sense it is not fair to say the last week because that would be discounting the very necessary Rhodes Must Fall campaign led by a student attached to UCT, which mushroomed into a campaign that visited other institutions. So in a sense what we see this week defined in campaign against fee increases is another form of #Rhodes must fall, articulated #Fees must fall.

When one argues that each generation is given the task and handed the mandate to fulfill for its season it is to understand the role of the youth in critical stages of the liberation struggle or emancipation.

This generation has been wrongly defined and castigated as bling-bling  gadget generation y, who makes up a bunch of spoilt brat, rudderless and absorbed with no presence of mind to identify a cause to fight for. Well those who wrote the youth off failed to understand that the youth was already identifying the cause for which it is prepared to lay down their lives no different to what we, as parents in another era were willing to do.

Violence, the destruction of infrastructure and the violation of others rights can never be condoned and must necessarily be rejected as criminal. Yet, peaceful protest and the using of human bodies to block off zones was never not part of legal student protest and picketing.

When the youth at UCT introduces us to the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, they were not oblivious of our collective history neither are they ill-informed of where we come from and what we have attained in the last two decades.

When Maxwele decided to take his disgust of an institution in racist praxis he identified the statue of Rhodes. He thus unequivocally said if we in democracy still have institutions known for its exclusivity that worship race ideology in which white privilege is entrenched and white arrogance on parade, it must be because Rhodes in more than statue presence lords over this institution. Maxwele knew that democracy has no place for these entrenched racist praxis at UCT that has seen less than 50 black academic staff in a compliment of over 1500. It is as one student said and I paraphrase, the historic colonial and apartheid past lives in the walls of this institution and it breathes yesterday which still silently but perpetually protests this is not a place for those of darker melanin.

So the cause of Maxwele and Rhodes Must Fall is to make a Constitution that endorses equality stand, he thus took his frustration to that proud statue of a racist Cecil john Rhodes and began a rolling mass campaign that saw this cemented effigy of Rhodes banished to obscurity and placed in history.

The Fees Must Fall, cause of the students at WITS, which has now gone to UCT, Rhodes, Stellenbosch, CPUT, NMU, and all others, is no different to that of Maxwele.

In fact the students at WITS with their campaign against fee increase of 10/11% for the new academic year, unambiguously says we know that the same constitution that advocates an equality of humanity also imbibes the right to education less as a privilege of those who are by the means.

The students at WITS is cognisant of the reality that 60 years ago the now historic gathering of South Africans in Kliptown articulated in its 8th visionary declaration ‘the doors of learning and culture shall be open’. The students therefore remonstrate that it cannot be that in a democratic state as envisaged by the Freedom Charter, inequality is growing in leaps and bounds, that the doors are being shut because of affordability.

The students at WITS fundamentally challenges the ruling party to give effect to its  52/53 National Conferences held in 2007/ 8 Resolutions  to work for free education for the poor. Yes, they challenge the fact that the ANC has not  according to them given effect to this whilst it advanced other policies. Thus the ANC must be held accountable to implement what it agreed to and cannot in this season be absent to give content to the call of a free education.The reality is the ANC’s resolution has given effect to establishment of a NSFAS, and can claim it is focussing on the poor. Yet in South Africa the middle class constitute a large group that easily can be categorized as poor.

The students at WITS take aim at the university management to challenge how they can approve a fee increase of 10/11% that is almost double the current inflation rate. Their campaign asks how the council of WITS and others could be so absent minded about the reality of a global stagnating economic outlook and a local economy that has shown a persistent truculence to grow beyond 1,5% evidenced in no-job-creation possibilities. This campaign asks why institutions like WITS and UCT, Stellenbosch and Rhodes can be so confident to approve these increases unless they remain institutions that caters for the elite as its true clients.

You hear this in the clearly emotional and teary student at Stellenbosch making the true cause of our youth emphatic when she addresses a white male staffer ‘why if the constitution of South Africa says education is a right, am I being denied to be educated”.   She goes on and said ‘I am free, I am free, but I am not free to study at this institution’. This is essential because she is not oblivious to that attained freedom, neither is it in arrogance but it’s a basic logic that freedom must translate to free education.

This is the proverbial eye of the needle, the students have identified their cause, they have identified their role, they have developed a campaign and this is nothing short of revolutionary. Their cause is not fee reduction, their cause is not fee restructuring their cause is not a percentage increase or not. Their unequivocal cause is and remains FREE EDUCATION. This is the evasive aspect for university management, this is the piece they can’t hear, or perhaps refuse to hear. This is the cry that government is awaking to in unpreparedness to answer this wave of flaring protest.

A critical aspect of any revolution is that the cause is beyond any natural boundaries defined in party ideological stances. groups or likeable It is therefore no surprise that those obsessed to find the orgnisors and leaders of this revolution is left confused as to who is leading this campaign. This is so typical of true revolutions. It reminded me of the mid 80’s in the Cape, when apartheid’ instrument shared their frustration with when they could not tell who were leading because control became impossible to contain for them. All they saw was solidarity.

I see that same solidarity on display, I guess the class of 2015 has technology advantages we did not have, they stand therefore as educated and ones who have taken full cognizance of what generations of youth before them engaged in.

One must not forget that this comes in the same month when the final exams are literally days away. No better time for their cause, yet no bigger time for this sacrifice. No worse time for those who failed to hear the students, no worse time for those who think they can blackmail the students back to the class in the hope of getting the academic year closed and a recess possible that will calm down the intensity over a festive season. Yet the students appear willing to sacrifice.

The campaign is not against NSFAS, which is primarily aimed at the most destitute. One placard carried by a female student proves very informative, ‘too rich for NSFAS support, to poor to pay fees, to black to get a bank loan’.

This is the cause for which the students in 2015 has lifted their hands. This is the cause that we as parents prove strangely insensitive to. Yes, as parents we fought for freedom in its totality, yet our children today fight for the gains we made in that freedom. They our children ask of us did you not fight for free education, where is that free education? Why are you not marching with us, we marched with you when you fought for our freedom, now today you who has to pay these fees want to analyse our cause.

Yet the students will take their cause to the political authorities on all front, this is a revolution, it says education must be un-shackled education must freed from a privilege of the elite, education must become the right the constitution articulates. Education is our key for a future that key cannot be exclusive for a handful as a privilege but must be a right that lives and is entrenched in practical sense.

I support this our students cause, freed education for all, for it stands in that tradition of a freedom my parents firstly fought for and later I also fought for.

Bishop Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

Advertisements

South Africa, today deserves a functional Land Claims Court!

South Africa, today deserves a functional Land Claims Court!

If Colonialism and its twin sister Apartheid was about anything it was always about land, thus the issue of land restitution remains cardinal as the undoing of the evil of this toxic combo. South Africa as a democratic state showed foresight and presence of mind in ensuring we have a legal entity namely the Land Claims Court. The importance of this Court as a critical cog to give effect to the subject of redress for both a colonial and apartheid collective past cannot be overstated

The Land Claims Court was established in 1996. It acts as specialist court, which performs, and independent adjudicatory function. It hears disputes arising from those laws, which underpin South Africa’s land reform initiative. These are the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994, the Land Reform (labour Tenants) act 3 of 1996 and the extension Security of Tenure Act 62 of 1997.

The Land Claims Court enjoys the same status as the High Court of South Africa. Appeals have access to the Supreme Court of Appeal, and in appropriate cases, to the Constitutional Court. Aspects of the courts jurisdiction and proceedings are peculiar to the functions it performs; for example, it may conduct any part of its proceedings on an informal or inquisitional basis and may convene hearings in any part of the country to make it more accessible.

The Land Claims Court has promulgated its own set of rules, which sets out its procedure in detail. The Court is essentially served by 4/5 judges with one based in De Hague. The Land Claims Court celebrates 19 years of its existence in 2015.

I have chosen to cite the mandate of the Land Claims Court as a means of introduction to engage in this season on some challenging questions on its standing as specialist court-status, functionality, public-presence, perhaps deafening silence in taking SA into its confidence, accessibility and perhaps relevance as required.

The Court despite a certain era having done sterling work appears reclusive, insecure, perhaps dysfunctional in leadership and in the quagmire of truculence exemplified in muffled confusion at least as seen from the judiciary setting.

Categorised as a specialist court no different to the Labour Court, which proves effective and is now entrenched in our society, I shall postulate the Land Claims Court is perhaps not allowed to live up to its right of specialty, robed with the necessary respect.

The Land Claims Court deserves the same dignity, honour and space to fulfill the redress of land the critical aspect that defines our chequered history. I have in this season resolved to ask questions to a variety of audiences that is directly linked to this Court.

  • Constitutional Mandate

Firstly, what is the political mandate for the structure of a Land Claims Court?

Secondly, what is the constitutional mandate for its existence? How does our constitution affords space, integrity and context for it’s meaning in relevance as a functional existing court independent yet a part of the particular arm of state in democracy defined as the judiciary?

  • The Judiciary’s Role

What is the judiciary’s overarching visionary footprint and practical current and future plans for the Land Claims Court? What status does the judiciary afford this Court and if so why?

Why is this Court not treated as a due High Court no different to the Labour Court? What support structures, systems and operational mechanisms are afforded through the Judiciary to engender due enablement? How are these plans actualised in relevance of mandate and its concomitant budgetary expressions? Has the judiciary taken this court serious enough or has it acted unwittingly in the undoing of this Court? What has been the role of individuals regardless of rank in the judiciary to either advance or retard the work of the Land Claims Court?

  • The Justice Ministry’s Role

How is the mandate of the Ministry of Justice synchronized to ensure the efficacy of this Court as a functional and active instrument for redress? I am reliably informed that very few judges across the country even know where this court in the CBD of Randburg is situated. If I am correct very few Ministers of Justice in the 19 years of the LCC’s existence ever paid this court a visit to appreciate the work, to apprise themselves with the context of this entity.

I think the current Minister of Justice Masutha is perhaps the first minister in a very long time to have spent time in paying a visit and engaging the LLC staff and its processes. Yes, the court has no escalator and lift but that cannot be a legitimate reason why ministers may not be willing to come as one minister and an era of bygone remonstrated.

  • LCC Current Leadership / Management

 

Another set of questions are leveled at the current leadership of the LCC. It appears that the LCC is on autopilot. Following the death of its first leader Judge President Fikile Bam, almost 4 years ago, the LCC has been led by an acting Judge President as its leader who essentially operates from Cape Town and only visits the office if she has a case to attend to. Typically acting judges to the LCC are recommended by the Judge President of the High Court and in the acting Judge President  recommends to the Minister who oversees the appointment of judges.

It cannot be that this important institution is without a due, conscious and a present leader, particularly in a season when executive order had sought to reopen and widen the land claims period.

Can we today in 2015 categorically state that this court is a functional, effective, present and alive Court that delivers on its mandate as led by sound competent and principled leadership that manages this entity informed by benchmarked management principles and practices? If the answer is not a resounding yes, why is this untenable situation tolerated?

I fear no reprisal to contend that the importance of this Court is perhaps in this season way-laid by a lack of strategic judiciary direction manifesting in ambivalence, hamstrung by fear of other arms of State to ask the judiciary salient questions, for fear of being labeled as interfering. This Court in my assessment is served in unsure leadership and challenged by an absent management team yet has an enormous mandate of redress.

How dare we assume we can attain the undoing of the colonial and apartheid history of land, when the designated entity and court to actualize such is in my assessment in this season in disarray?

Finally, what has been the role of all political parties in ensuring the public is informed and kept abreast of the importance of this Court whilst insisting that the Court is duly decorated and resourced?

I ask these questions in the hope of finding answers from the relevant structures and those who preside over mandate, yet also to keep those accountable to the South African public.

Bishop Clyde N.S. Ramalaine

What is wrong with a crop of recent ANC Veterans ?

An organisation is as strong as its collective institutional capacity. The African National Congress as a 103-year-old entity has been in political power for 21 years and this period has manifested in a multiplicity of challenges as it made the transition from liberation movement to governing party.

A great part of this transition was and is made possible due to people who have served and continue to serve the ANC informed by its values and ethos. It is therefore natural to celebrate the institutional capacity of the ANC by looking at its veterans as indicative of the actual state of the organization.

I have over time observed various reports and accounts as captured in our media on what I now have termed ‘recent glass-tower veterans’ of the ANC.

My thoughts are herewith captured to argue that the ANC is being done a gross disservice by some who makes up a part this important cog of institutional capacity.

It appears the veterans in the ANC can today be categorised along two fundamental and distinct lines. When the ANC talks of its veterans who also are part of the recognised Veteran league it refers to an MKVA presence who are supportive of the current leadership. Yet seldom is mentioned made of what I termed the ‘recent veterans’.

It is here perhaps that the opportunity presents itself for recent individual veterans to seize the empty space and articulate their personal opinions for public consumption. Perhaps at the risk of speaking in ignorance, the Veterans League is not doing enough to bridge the gulf between the groups making up the veterans, resulting in the ANC being denied the true and actual benefit its home-grown veterans as a collective may bring to anchor this century old organization.

It is my irrevocable view that ANC needs all its veterans from different eras no different to any liberation movement that transitioned into a governing party.

However, what the ANC do not need is a new brand of independent veterans who consistently refuse to accord the current democratically elected leadership of the movement the same respect they afford others.

I dare assert the ANC does not need recent veterans who do the work of opposition parties in claims of freedom of speech.

What the ANC do not need is a new crop of veterans who have an almost self- righteous stance in which the prism is to talk down to current leadership from an aloof position with a so called backed South African ‘expanded rights’ handle. (Meaning they are respected by South Africa that’s why they can talk)

What the ANC do not need is a breed of former leaders who had benefitted at all levels and continues to do so and yet seek to pontificate on what is wrong the ANC.

It needs veterans that take full consideration for the trajectory of BEE (its highs, lows and all the mess associated with it), which in my assessment has made an undeniable contribution to corruption.

Perhaps a footnote on corruption is needed at this juncture of my meandering on our recent veterans. It is further my contention that apartheid corruption had its second-birth in the Mandela era; it found identity in the Mbeki era and now lives in the Zuma era. Any attempt to fail to see the trajectory of corruption and to narrowly blame this dispensation for the prevalence of corruption is necessarily sophistic and deceiving to say the least.

Corruption is an enemy we all must deal with at all levels and spheres of our society expressions. We cannot and dare not in convenience make corruption a political football because we can. Veterans do not ask themselves how they attained their wealth devoid of political power proximity.

An analysis of the new breed of veterans reveals an interesting picture. Firstly they are mostly if not all economically empowered so its not personal empowerment that drives their anti-ANC behaviour. They, their immediate families and even extended families are financially sorted because they graciously, serving of boards etc. These veterans have benefitted from the proximity of political power, and are well represented in the economic sectors of our society.

It appears these modern independent veterans have taken on the role of ‘independent’ analysts and opinion makers that freely opine through open letters; even engage in the sharing of ‘private’ organizational information intended for the oganisation’s leaders with the media. Yes, they find it easy to break with the collective leadership ethos of the ANC the same they prognosticated whilst in power.

The ANC’s most recent veterans have become experts on what is wrong with the ANC, perhaps as veterans they should be. The only dichotomy is they never find it in themselves to admit and accept due role in what they consider the ANC has become in this epoch. The clear line of collective responsibility of ANC leaderships from the dawn of democracy till today is not regarded as essential neither considered to be of cognizance for these veterans.

These modern veterans engage the ANC in snapshot analysis of easily compartmentalized periods of Mandela, they all were part of that moment, that government and therefore ensemble the actual true architects of our collective liberation. Mandela extends them a legitimacy that makes them immune to question or reproach.

Some of these veterans identify with Mbeki because they served as cabinet ministers and had critical positions and therefore claim the institutional context of a SA as theirs because they were there and they led and set South Africa on cause for the leveling of the plain fields until BEE exemplifies this skew reality in which they grossly benefitted. Mbeki extends them a claim of intellectual prowess and they naturally feed on that. Some even defend Mbeki when defense is not needed, this defense rather feeds  the demon of factionalism.

The recent veterans reject the Zuma leadership again for a multiplicity levels. For some Zuma democratically defeated Mbeki the one they worship and eternally bow before hence its impossible to ever embrace s democratically elected Zuma as a their leader. For some Zuma has no formal education and for some of our veterans who define leadership through certification of degrees this attests a grave indictment. To use the words of Archbishop Tutu on the election of Zuma, ‘how will I explain who our new president is?”

For the recent veteran sees Zuma, individual as the cause of all ANC mess. Interesting not something they blame on Mandela or Mbeki even Motlanthe (for his short unelected stint). Very interesting!!

It appears the recent veterans of the ANC are preoccupied to prove the leadership of this era as corrupt and destroying the ANC. Let us not forget the ANC these veterans fought and served is the very public claim.

Some veterans have used their academic status, writings even the instructing classes to be scathing on the ANC leadership of this epoch. These gladly receive the accolades as veterans and freedom icons but today are individuals who opine because they in their minds own the ANC.

It is even possible to postulate some veterans in an ideal setting may never have become veterans because with our chequered history some were mere ‘swallows’ and ‘ravens’ who burrowed themselves into the beds of intimate relations with some highly regarded even married ANC and SACP leaders of another era. These are therefore veterans by conjugal rights less than having played any specific role in a particular epoch.

These veterans share a sense of self-righteousness wrapped in claim of speaking up for the existence of the ANC as wrested away from those they regard as illegal guardians of their organisation.

The modern veterans seldom own up to their role in factionalism and the development of what they keep warning on the personality cult.

Perhaps one of the primary reasons why these veterans are so vocal is the fact that they find themselves in retirement at a politically young age. At 60 politicians are young in particular in Africa. Our veterans therefore still have personal and political ambitions some even for high office, yet their ‘trapped state’ of being veterans does not fit this insatiable need to be politically active to the extent of even running for highest office. I think this is perhaps one of the more crucial reasons for the attitudes and behaviours of the recent ANC veterans.

There is a sense of ambiguity about these veterans, they personalize the ANC as an entity that warrants rescuing from a group or band of moribund non- thinkers, self-serving and corruption anchored leadership. This lends to the emergence of a natural ‘messiah complex’ that is self evident in the ANC’s recent veterans. They in individual sentiment have determined themselves the solution for this anarchy in the ANC. The only problem is these veterans were all part of the ANC throughout the transition from liberation movement into governing political party and had their fair share of involvement bad, good and ugly in that history.

The recent veterans share their views and perspectives not devoid of old bitterness; some refuse to get over a Polokwane and are in this season angry. We are told of veterans who cry because they were spied on and lost out on lucrative deals. We hear of veterans who talk as if they were not part of the destruction of the ANCYL when they sought to fight personal battles using the youth.

Let me conclude in reiterating the ANC needs its veterans, it needs veterans who are veterans and act as veterans. It needs the veterans to actualize wisdom that at all times respect the organization it joined as individuals and were privileged to serve in. It needs veterans who recognize the ANC before they recognize themselves where they feel entitled because the ANC owes them something. Veterans, who are disciplined and respect the order of structures, yes veterans who will respect democratically elected leadership. The ANC needs its veterans who detest factionalism and work against the demon of factionalism not those who fuel it and claim innocence. The ANC needs its veterans because it made all these veterans what they today in individualism choose to claim. The ANC is owed an objective loyalty by its veterans.

Until veterans act behave and work for the ANC they will remain what I have in this season termed ‘recent glass tower veterans’. Veterans who will serve in the ANC Veteran’s League and share in collective wisdom from a collective responsibility lessons learnt.

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Independent Observer, Writer and Author