Do your work well and diligently as stipulated in the Terms of Reference as indicated by the South African Education minister, Naledi Pandor.
This is the advice that should be strongly communicated to the commission of enquiry at the North West university, Mafikeng campus.
This comes after student protests at the campus that resulting in students burning down the university’s property and saw more than fourty of students being arrested at the time of writing.
Early this year, the university also experienced the same students protests. This, according to media reports, was due to students’ fees increase disputes and the university’s management.
North West university’s Mafikeng campus has imparted and provided the skills and knowledge I have despite the same protests having taken place in the early 2006 when I was first shot by a rubber bullet when I was still a student.
Since the merger of the two universities in 2005 – Potchefstroom University (previously white-dominated) and Bophuthatswana university (previously black-dominated) by the then Minister of Education Kader Asmal – there has always been incidents of student protests.
Not only did the student protests take place, but several academics as a result have left the university. This, according to some academics, was a result of Mafikeng campus management’s lack of consultation with all academics and other staff.
The academics’ frustrations with the management’s lack of consultation especially on new policies which formulated without their consultation and were obliged to apply, although not justified nor recognized in any of the South African law – led to their illegal/ unprotected strike at the campus last year.
Potchefstroom campus is being accused – by many Mafikeng campus academics and staff of imposing policies that they, the academics and staff, let alone the staff association at the campus – were not consulted on.
This then led to the conclusion or believe by these concerned persons that the campus Rector, Dan Kgwadi, is being somewhat used by the entire university’s management council, especially Potchefstroom, which is said to be white-dominated.
This therefore means that they – the staff association at Mafikeng campus, predominately white – are not being taken into consideration when strategic university and management decisions and policies are made.
Kgwadi is also said to be very aloof and inconsiderate of his employees, academics and other staff members represented by the university’s Staff Association.
The student protests at the university must be entirely blamed on the politically-aligned (to the African National Congress, especially SASCO) student organizations.
These, politically-aligned student organizations, are at times – especially during fees negotiation process – inconsiderate of the students’ interests they claim to be representing at such meetings/negotiations.
This is because most of the time they are irrational and always want to be heard and not hear what the university management.
At times, the very same politically-aligned students’ organizations push the agenda that puts it in the advantageous position which they will only benefit from and not the majority of students they claim to represent.
It however can be argued that the politically-aligned students organizations have many times if not, a few times fought battles that students too have benefited from. But again, especially during these protests, it is the very students – who are claimed to be represented by these organizations – whose academic time is wasted by strikes/protests (unnecessary at times) that could have been avoided (by the politically-aligned organizations) from the start if such organizations had negotiated (in good and not bad faith) strategically and fairly so from the start.
These are the incidents I, Akanyang Merementsi – as was the student at the concerned campus, Mafikeng campus – have observed from January 2005 until late November 2008.
An enquiry such as this one – established by the education minister – will hopefully identify a lot of mismanagement at both campuses, Mafikeng and Potchefstroom, but must not be exclusive to Mankwe campus as it is also one of the university campuses.
In the end, one would pray and hope, the commission should try by all means to eliminate some of the issues that have held the university back from transformation especially at Potchefstroom campus as is still – after “democracy and transformation” – a white dominated and has to some extreme extent, centralized the university’s (including Mafikeng and Mankwe campuses’) management policies decision-making.
The recent racist Facebook group created by some “white” students – supposedly at Potchefstroom campus – is just a few of the challenges that the commission will have to draw some recommendations for and how the entire university at large should move forward after such racist and somewhat narrow views of the students – blacks – are still being viewed as inferior to them (white students).
Although there may be no record of racist incidents, according to my knowledge, 3 study years spent at Mafikeng campus and at the time of writing – racism, sexism, inequality – however need to be addressed firmly and condemned before surfacing as if left alone – like Free State university did – might be hard and late to address and contain them.
After all – who knows – maybe the politically-aligned student organizations are right to suggest that Mafikeng campus rector Dan Kgwadi must resign!
However, the suggestion by these politically-aligned student organizations that the latter must resign because he voted for or against a certain member of the African National Congress late last year – at its 52nd National Conference at Polokwane, December 2007 – is very unconstitutional and very low of them.
This is because the last time I checked the South African constitution, every one had a right to vote. Unless they, the ANC, changed the constitution to their advantage to prevent people from voting for whatever personality they see fit as it seems to be the tendency, if not tradition, for the ruling party to change certain legislation
Good luck to the Commission of Enquiry!