06, September, 2013

Economic Freedom Fighters condemns the closure of the Walter Sisulu University (WSU). It has been weeks with no academic work happening at the University and both the National Minister of Higher Education Dr Blade Nzimande and the university administration have not resolved the matter. The university administration and Dr Nzimande have not shown leadership or compassion for the students and university community as they have allowed the whole situation to reach such deep levels of crisis.

EFF supports the demand for a living wage made by university staff and faculty. Salary disparities between the general staff, faculty and senior management in universities is both unsustainable and unjustifiable. Whilst government pays vice chancellors and other senior management salaries that run into millions of Rand, the general staff particularly cleaning staff, those who work in administration and teaching staff – people who actually keep the university alive – do not get a living wage in general.

We call upon Dr Blade Nzimande to stop spending time in factional squabbles and useless sloganeering in the ZANC alliance circles and immediately focus on his job, and end the crisis at WSU; A crisis that is due to the fact that this university has been under administration for far too long, demonstrating the failure of government itself.

Dr. Nzimande and the ZANC government should have to learn from this experience that his move to want to erode institutional autonomy of the higher education institutions is a misguided urge to bring his factional Stalinist purging tendencies into public institutions where robust and critical voices are silenced as and when he sees fit.

It does not take quantum physics to discover what needs to be done to bring the university to normality; and for a self-proclaimed communist minister, a living wage for staff must not be negotiable, particularly for the support staff. Wage disparities must also be amicably resolved by admitting that the government had long wanted to close down this university thus is set it up for failure.

It also does not take much sociological reading to discover that the situation in WSU has been allowed to deteriorate to these levels because it is a predominantly black university. No former white institution that still stands today would have been collapsed if its white professors were to demand a living wages. The education of the black child thus remains disregarded by the ZANC government.

South Africa is already known to be undergoing an almost permanent state of crisis in education. EFF is cognisant of the fact that government insists on pursuing the neoliberal model of higher education funding thereby creating tensions between management and faculty. This is the reality of the general working situation in many institutions in the country. EFF calls upon government to immediately pay the striking workers and faculty at WSU a living wage as demanded, and to re-open the university so that learning can continue without any more time being wasted. Education is not a privilege; it is a right. And a struggle for free education is a central, non-negotiable pillar of the African Revolution.

Issues by the Economic Freedom Fighters

Mbuyiseni Ndlozi (National Spokesperson)
Cell: +27 73 133 3012
Email: [email protected]