Wits Vuvuzela journalist, Sibongile Machika, looks back at the suspension, and then court challenge of the EFF7 and suggests seven lessons to take away from the saga.
1. “Habib must fall”
The Wits EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) has called for the fall of Professor Adam Habib on a number of occassions demonstrating a growing dissatisfaction with the vice chancellor and principal of the university.
The suspension of the seven students, most of whom were EFF aligned, was completely within Wits rules and procedures. Yet the court found that this decision violated the students’ right to education. How can a university, a place that is meant to shape the minds of our future leaders have laws that contradict our treasured constitution? What does this say about our universities and the people that govern them? Surely it is reasonable that such leaders must “fall”.
2. Choose your friends carefully
Had this been any other group of students involved in a fight or disruption, they would probably have turned on each other at the first sign of suspension. The relationship between the Wits EFF members is strengthened by their commitment to a shared political ideology. Under the leadership of Vuyani Pambo they fought together for a common cause through thick and thin.
3. Stick to your guns
Throughout the threats, the fights and even suspensions, the Wits EFF members stood firm in the beliefs. They continuously defended the stance that Wits management shifts some of their responsibilities and decision-making to the SRC (Student Representative Council).
4. Timing is everything
Although the suspended students are back at university, they still have to face the consequences of their actions. Facing a disciplinary hearing so close to the exams is never a good idea, the outcome could have huge implications on their future at Wits.
5. Struggle songs are still sung
We’ve all learnt at least one struggle song from the Wits EFF members.
Some of the suspended students lived at Wits University residences as they hail from outside the Gauteng province. When the students were suspended, they were kicked out of res but there was little consideration for where they would stay and what they would eat. Granted, they are all adults who must think about the implications of the actions but education is a holistic experience.
The living circumstances of students must always be considered in both teaching and disciplining students.
7. Youth drives change
Wits EFF students and the rest of the students driving the transformation across South Africa have inspired the nation in the same way that the class of ’76 did. No matter what happens now, there is no going back.