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#FeesMustFall

10/10/2016

This opinion piece appeared in the Herald of 10 October 2016.

HOT TOPIC: #FeesMustFall vs #OpenNMMU

THE story reported by The Herald (October 6) on a group of students who wanted the university to open has clearly shed light on the fact that it is only a smaller number of privileged students who don’t feel the brunt of academic and financial exclusion.

This has been echoed by the leaders of #FeesMustFall throughout the country – that those who want academic programmes to continue are a small number, whereas the majority of students feel that they cannot lose the momentum generated so as to ensure that generations who come after them do not have to suffer the same plight.

However, it against this background of a privileged minority that I was not surprised by further reports of a meeting taking place in some leafy suburb by a group of “affected parents” who are willing to raise R200 000 for legal action against the university, instead of donating that money to fund at least two black kids whose parents could not afford to “save for 20 years”, due to the restrictive laws that they (affected parents) supported until 1994.

It is against this background that you will expect people who are beneficiaries of an unjust system that was declared a crime against humanity to call on the university to unleash the security forces against an unarmed and defenceless people who are fighting for a genuine cause that is as a result of such beneficiaries’ non-condemnation and continued support of apartheid throughout the years.

Why are these people demanding increased security when the university is complaining of financial losses due to underfunding by the government? Why do they want to create a military zone at our university like the apartheid state did in schools that our parents attended? Is this not a tacit admission on their part that they never saw anything wrong with military and police presence at Kwazakhele High School during the 1970s? People must wake up and see what privilege is doing to some within the “rainbow nation”.

My worry is not seeing black parents in general, Africans in particular, also organising themselves into a grouping that supports the call of the students. My worry is not seeing black lawyers raising critical questions on the legal challenge by people like Terry Price – who we cannot even locate in the liberation struggle as having defended black detainees.

Where is organised labour with marches and stayaways that will force big capital to raise their voices during this crisis? Where is the religious and civil sector to raise issues of morality over a people who are prepared to fund a court challenge instead of funding those who are poor?

If the students are to lose the momentum that they have generated, they should know that it will take the next generation exactly 40 years for it to regain this kind of unity and common purpose. Students should know that true freedom comes with sacrifice. They should not be deterred by people who want to derail their just cause and should soldier on.

Hasta la victoria siempre! We will overcome!

Lonwabo McFarlane, EFF member and NMMU student, Kwazakhele