In his keynote address at a mass meeting held today at the Cape Town campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), the president of the African People’s Convention (APC) and Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) chairman, Honorable Themba Godi pledged solidarity with the students and workers of the university, who are currently at loggerheads with the executive management of CPUT over number of issues including disputes regarding the issuing of insourcing contracts and the suspension of four student leaders.
Mr Godi recognised the plight of the workers and students and cited, as the basis for his presence on the campus today, the fundamental role of elected individuals which is to attend to the people’s concerns and solve their problems.
In the speech, delivered this afternoon to a crowd of students and workers gathered at the piazza, Mr Godi admitted to have previously had an incorrect perception of the situation at CPUT based on incorrect media reports, and urged the national broadcaster, the SABC, to deliver factual reports based on fair and unbiased research.
He expressed alarm at the increasing militarization of CPUT campuses, which he said was based on an apartheid mentality and should be a shame to the university management, the department of education and the government. He said that these were intimidation tactics meant to deter the students and workers from rightfully calling for their concerns to be addressed.
The students have been calling for free education and the allocation of appropriate insourcing contracts to the ancillary staff at the university. Disagreements with the executive management pertaining to the implementation of these calls have led to a wave of violent protests at CPUT’s two main campuses. The protests resulted in the suspension of four student leaders who were involved in negotiations with the university’s executive committee.
Honorable Themba Godi expressed support for the demand for free education, which he said is a long over due promise made to the people of South Africa in 1994. He bemoaned the prevalence of socio-economic power relations established during the era of apartheid, citing them as some of the reasons why no real change has taken place since the advent of freedom in the country.
He said that NSFAS is not the solution to the ongoing crises at the university, offering qualitative decolonised free education as a better option. He described decolonised education as, ‘an education which does not produce “non-whites” or house negros’.
He called for solidarity between black students and works, mentioning that the struggles for insourcing and free education can not be separated.
Mr Godi also spoke about corruption in the government, saying that the so called communist leadership of the department of education did not have the concerns of students at heart. He blamed them for the presence of private security on campus, saying that it were the same ministers in government elected to serve the people who own these private security companies.
Before he left he resolved to engage with the chancellor and other relevant stake holders concerning the issues discussed at the meeting. He also promised to intervene in the case of the suspended student leaders, and asked the students to remain strong in their pursuit for free education.