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The South African Students Congress (SASCO) held a successful National Executive Committee meeting on 10-12 August 2012 at Booysens Hotel in Johannesburg.
The NEC paid tribute to women for their important role in the struggle for national liberation and socio-economic emancipation in South Africa. We remain inspired by the heroic and historic march led by women on 9 August 1956 to challenge the unjust apartheid pass laws. Their political commitment and heroism inspires us to continue with the struggle to transform education and society in general.
The NEC took stock and deliberated on the challenges in the higher education sector and society in general.
Dissolution of university councils
We note the persistent dissolutions of the Councils of the previously disadvantaged Universities by government. SASCO believes that there need to be an earmarked funding for the previously disadvantaged institutions whilst we address the historical and systemic challenges.
The department of higher education and training must play a more pro-active role in these institutions so as to avoid them being put under administration. We will also do our part in this regard. We will continue to call for the dissolution of councils in universities which refuse to transform.
Financial instability and maladministration should not be the only reasons for the dissolution of university Councils. Transformation-resistant institutions like the Universities of Free State, Stellenbosch and Pretoria must be placed under administration because they are not committed to the transformation agenda.
SASCO National Free Education march
The NEC noted with disappointment that little has been done in realising the ANC Polokwane resolution on the progressive realisation of free education in South Africa.
Consistent with our declaration of 2012 as a year for heightened mass action, SASCO will be embarking on a massive national free education march sometime towards the end of this year. The march will be directed to the Department of Higher Education and Training, 123 Francis Baart Street, in Pretoria.
This march is aimed at communicating our discontent with the slow pace at which government is implementing free education and issues related to student services.
Our structures will mobilise society at large to join the all-important SASCO National Free Education march. All our members and supporters across the Republic of South Africa will converge in Pretoria to march to the Department of Higher Education and Training.
Racialised graduate unemployment
We are particularly worried about the racialised and gendered nature of graduate unemployment in South Africa. Whereas we acknowledge that the unemployment situation in South Africa is both structural and chronic, we are concerned that the South African white graduate does not experience difficulty in finding employment as compared to black South African graduates.
Research has shown that 55% of black graduates do not find employment a year after graduation as compared to 12% of their white counterparts (see here). It is quite evident that the social capital and privilege enjoyed by white people in South Africa continues to benefit them dearly.
Statistics shows that we have about 600 000 unemployed graduates and about 300 000 vacancies in the economy which cannot be filled by the unemployed graduates. This unfortunate reality speaks to the continued exclusion of the black majority from the economy.
As an organisation we will continue to fight against racism and advocate for employment equity in the workplaces, particularly in the private sector.
Most of our universities and colleges will be going for SRC elections in the next two months. SASCO is organisationally and politically prepared for these elections and we are confident that we will maintain our hard-won hegemony over student governance across the country.
As it stands currently, SASCO is in charge of most SRC's in our universities and colleges. We will work extraordinarily hard to ensure that we win campuses where we lost last year.
The NEC once more expressed its disappointment that our allies in the PYA-ANC YL and YCL-have in the past contested us in SRC elections. We will be holding bilaterals with the national leadership of the ANC YL and YCL to address this challenge.
We note that our previous bilaterals with the ANC YL and YCL on this issue have not assisted us because even when we agree that SASCO should contest alone they act against our bilateral agreements. We reaffirm that higher education and further training in the movement remain SASCO's primary and only political terrain.
Tendering of the NSFAS
We learnt with shock that the NSFAS Board has advertised a tender for ‘a provision of a back up device, management software and technical support services' and for the ‘appointment of a panel of recruitment agencies or labour brokers for a period of two years'.
NSFAS is a product of student's struggles and we feel betrayed that this scheme is now used to undermine our call for the in-sourcing of government services and banning of modern slavery (labour brokers).
We find it provocative that the NSFAS Board has taken such an unprecedented decision to outsource some of its activities. SASCO strongly believes that the NSFAS must build and consolidate its internal capacity to provide all its services. As an organisation we call for the reversal of the tender process.
We will engage the Department of Higher Education and the NSFAS Board with the hope of convincing them to halt the tender process.
The Limpopo books saga
SASCO is disappointed at the inability of government to deliver the books and learning materials for some grades in the Limpopo province and other areas in the country. This forms part of the broader terminal crisis in the South African dual basic education system.
This crisis is compounded by the rampant maladministration and incompetence in the public service. SASCO believes that all those responsible for the non-delivery of books in Limpopo and other provinces should be held accountable and serious action should be taken against anyone found guilty.
As SASCO we call for the President to promptly deal with the reports on who is responsible and redeploys incompetent elements in the political leadership of the Department of Basic Education.
We also call for the immediate establishment of a state owned publishing company. We will also continue to engage with our reliable allies-the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) and South African Democratic Teachers Unions (SADTU)-in addressing the deep-seated systematic challenges in basic education.
Friends of the Youth League
The NEC reaffirmed that the so-called Friends of the Youth League is indeed a petty crowd seeking cheap attention. We reaffirm that SASCO, YCL and COSAS are the real friends of the ANC Youth League.
We call upon all our members and structures not to participate in any activity organised by a grouping that goes around calling itself Friends of the Youth League. Our members should not be fooled by those who want to make conflicted reference to the principle of freedom of association as a basis to want to participate in the activities of the Friends of the Youth League.
We cannot allow our members to tell us of their freedom of association because tomorrow they will use the same reason to participate in the activities of IFP, DA or COPE.
Statement issued by Ngoako Selamolela, SASCO President, and Themba Masondo, SASCO Secretary General, August 14 2012