Wednesday, 04 February 2009

Politically-aligned Student organizations cause student protests!

Not many people will agree with this notion – politically-aligned student organization cause student protests in universities and colleges in the country – and certainly do not expect anyone to.

This notion, I have observed sadly, took place at my former university between 2006 and 2008 whereby I ended up being shot by a rubber bullet in one of these protests.

In my previous post in my blog Akanyang Africa, I mentioned that:

“The student protets [sic] at the university must be entirely blamed on the politically-aligned (to the African National Congress, especially SASCO) stident [sic] 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 [sic] had to say”.

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.”

As mentioned in the post “These are the incidents I, Akanyang Merementsi… have observed from January 2005 until late November 2008” and may not apply to any similar incidents at any university in the country.

Furthermore, these politically-alligned student organizations were reported to have said that the campus Rector Dan Kgwadi 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. . .” which I found unconstitutional and very low of them.”

Recently at the time of writing, there has been student protests at Durban University of Technology’s Westville campus in which “two student leaders were arrested … [for] allegedly inciting public violence,” Mail & Guardian reported today.

Though “students' grievances centred on a shortage of residences and unroadworthy transport” may be genuine – that does not give the right to incite public violence on the university’s property as has been reported today.

This trend of inciting violence and making threats has surfaced in many of the protests that happened at NWU, Mafikeng Campus’s too, where members of the leading student organization were arrested.

One can, but only hope that the inciting of violence would stop in order to have smooth and effect negotiations between the student organizations and university management and avoid delays which could affect many students classes and other activities, e.g. official opening of the university.

The university yesterday issued a press statement/brief in which it “condemns the acts of violence and intimidation that have characterised this strike action and endeavours to work with the unions and the SRC to find solutions to the current challenges so that DUT can return to normality”.

According to the statement/brief, “Five members of SI are in hospital with serious injuries and seven have sustained cuts and bruises. There are also members of non striking staff and students who sustained injuries due to the violence or intimidation”.

Again as mentioned before in my post, these seriously unnecessary injuries can ONLY be “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”.

It is not clear at this stage whether both organizations – student organizations and university management – “had negotiated (in good and not bad faith) strategically and fairly so from the start” or not.

But what is clear, however, and MUST be a lesson to all university and college management and student organizations across the country – or in any other country as a matter of fact – is that: all matter must be negotiated fairly and good faith.

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