Wits EFF victory for hungry students

The Student Affairs (DSA) office at Wits University has responded to the pleas from the Wits EFF to feed hungry students on campus. On April 17, members of the student organisation stormed the main dining hall on campus to take surplus food for hungry students after, they claimed, students had contacted them for assistance. In response the office of Dr Pamela Dube, the Dean of Students, has responded with positive solutions.

Wits EFF chairperson, Vuyani Pambo told Wits Vuvuzela that his organisation is quite happy with the solutions being implemented: “That is the victory that the action got.”

During the dining hall incident, members of Wits EFF chanted that “Students cannot achieve academic excellence on an empty stomach”.

According to the DSA, some of the solutions include:
• The provision of an online form which a needy student has to complete before receiving assistance; So far, 17 students have benefitted from this resolution.
• A needy student is allocated 10 meals from the dining hall then provided with a meal pack from the Wits Food Bank run by the Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach (WCCO), depending on the individual needs of the student. The Food Bank packs contain Stop Hunger Now meal packs.

The DSA says it is also in discussions with the SRC (Student Representatives Council) and Bhakti Yoga society about getting hot meals twice a week from the Hare Krishna Movement, who will soon set up a kitchen at Constitution Hill to feed the hungry local residents. The Wits Food Bank is also planning to work with the national Food Sovereignty Campaign to possibly establish food gardens on campus.

Pambo called on fellow students and staff to donate non-perishable food to help those in need.

Wits EFF student leaders ‘detained’ after Pretoria protest

Two Wits Economic Freedom Front (EFF) leaders were detained by police after occupying offices at the Department of Higher Education in Pretoria on Thursday.

LOCKED UP: Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo talks freedom and education following his detainment yesterday. Photo: Tendai Dube

LOCKED UP: Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo talks freedom and education following his detainment at the Department of Higher Education yesterday. Photo: Tendai Dube.

Vuyani Pambo and Mbe Mbhele were detained at a police station in Pretoria. “They took us to the station … after a while they realised they can not hold us,” said Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo who described the detainment as a “game of intimidation.”

On Thursday morning 17 EFF members travelled by train from Johannesburg to the Higher Education Department in Pretoria to address student concerns over the lack of funding by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Almost 3 000 Wits students who had been promised funding by the scheme have been left unable to register for studies this year.

Pambo said that before the Pretoria protest, they engaged with the university to understand the issue with NSFAS but after careful investigation realised that “this is bigger than what we thought – we were barking at the wrong tree, the university is not accountable for a national crisis.”

Shortly after their arrival at the Pretoria offices the protesters sought a meeting with senior officials at the department, but were asked to move off the premises by a South African Police Service (SAPS) special crowd control unit, who later escorted the two student leaders to the station. While they were detained, no official arrests were made.

“They tried to pacify us,” said Pambo who described the police officer’s attitudes as “fathers offering advice to their children.”

Director for security services at the department Richard Zungu denies that the students were detained, saying “the students were not detained and no meeting took place, even though they wanted a meeting.”

“The department says it is unable to secure funds because it doesn’t have funding from the government,” said Wits EFF member Sive Mqikela who was present at the protest.

EFF’s member of parliament Andile Mngixtama, who was meeting with EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo, told Wits Vuvuzela: “They are criminalizing the poor, criminalizing blackness … Here students are saying they want education which is a fundamental right and what comes is the intimidation of the state.”

Mngixtama believes the solution to South Africa’s education crisis is to remove the bursary system and implement a free education for poor students.

Both Pambo and Mbhele have since been released without charges laid against them.

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Wits EFF’s proposal to name-change buildings, receives backlash

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GIVE US A CHANCE: Among other things, Wits EFF proposed to change the names of residences and some buildings in the name of transformation. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

By Lutho Mtongana and Nqobile Dludla

A proposal to change the names of campus buildings by political new kids in the block, Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was welcomed with backlashes at the SRC General Elections Great Debate today.

Wits EFF chairperson, Vuyani Pambo, said they  aim to change the names of buildings on campus to honour those of “Africa’s heroes” including the Great Hall which served as the venue for the debate.

“I think it’s important that we locate ourselves so that we know where we are sitting, we are in Africa by the way but the buildings around us do not signify that … You would think in a university where [Robert] Sobukwe lectured, that hall will bear that powerful man’s name on it,” said Pambo.

Wits EFF candidate, Cathrine Seabe, said the party is “planning to help the VC with his 2020 vision of making wits university a more cosmopolitan university”. She said the Wits EFF would also work to racially integrate the campus.

“We are going to do this through university residences, that’s where it starts, we still don’t have enough students in university residences, we still don’t have enough racial groups,” said Seabe.

One of the PYA candidates rebutted the EFF’s name changing plan for some Wits buildings, saying “next thing you know they [Wits EFF] will change [the name] Mens Res to Julius Malema”.

Also disagreeing with Wits EFF’s vision, Project W said that the university has bigger problems than changing names of buildings on campus, arguing that there lot of students who are being academically excluded. They made the accusation that the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA)-led SRC “waits for students to fail first before helping them fight academic exclusion.”

Project W’s statement drew the ire of the PYA whose supporters threw their hands in the air in disagreement, chanting “Hhayi hhayi, unamanga!” [No, no, you are lying!].

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela after the debate, Seabe said she felt that their proposals as the EFF was dismissed. She said they were not given an opportunity to engage with the students and elaborate on their points.

“We didn’t necessarily get the engagement that we wanted, not only from the other parties as well but from the audience [too] … We are coming around as the new kids in the block asking them to give us a chance,” Seabe said.

The debate held at the Great Hall was to introduce students to the 2014/2015 SRC candidates.

Tomorrow, a round of circuses at residences and other campus buildings will begin where candidates will debate each other and take questions from students on their grievances and issues.

EFF launches its intellectual coup d’ etat

CALM BEFORE THE LAUNCH: Advocate Dali Mpofu and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema sitting on the Great Hall stage of Wits University during the launch of the EFF book "The Coming Revolution" on Thursday, July 25, 2014. Photo: Luke Matthews

CALM BEFORE THE LAUNCH: Advocate Dali Mpofu (left) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema (right) sitting on the Great Hall stage of Wits University during the launch of the EFF book The Coming Revolution on Thursday. Photo: Luke Matthews

A revolutionary missile was launched yesterday when the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) gathered in the Wits Great Hall to celebrate Commissar Floyd Shivambu’s book The Coming Revolution on Thursday night.

EFF leader Julius Malema delivered the keynote address on behalf of the absent author Shivambu who was still in Cape Town. “We wrote a book because we do not want our story to be told by some white person”, said Malema.

Economic Revolutions

Malema said that the book addresses economic freedom looking particularly at nationalization, noting that he has been previously misinterpreted on the issue.

“I’m agitated by the fact that people love writing books about nationalization. You go and you fetch a book by Van Vicker who will speak on behalf of Malema’’, he said.

The ruling party African National Congress (ANC) was not left out of Malema’s address who accused the ruling party of “selling-out” to economic investors and not putting the concerns of people at the forefront.

“The economy looks the way it looked in the colonial times”, said Malema who explained that the EFF’s economic outlook outlined in the book advocates working class concerns.

Intellectual Riot 

The party’s Gauteng provincial chair, Dali Mpofu said that the book consisted of three parts, “manifesto, election and an interview with the commander and chief”, referring to an eleven-page interview conducted by Shivambu and Janet Smith with the party leader. Malema jokingly referred to the interview as “the longest interview of my life”.

Mpofu who contributed to writing the foreword of the book said, “very little [few] political parties have achieved what this little baby has achieved in twelve months”.

Wits EFF student leader Vuyani Pambo noted the intellectual capacity of the organisation saying, “In case you had any doubts – intellectual production is part of this revolutionary duty”.

The book launch was part of the EFF’s first year anniversary of their political existence which will officially take place this weekend.

 

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EFF occupies VC’s office

 

EFF members plan to occupy the VC's office until they are recognised as an official student society at Wits. Photo: Tracey Ruff

OFFICE INVASION: Wits Economic Freedom Fighters members plan to occupy the VC’s office until they are recognised as an official student society at Wits. Photo: Tracey Ruff

The Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have been occupying Vice Chancellor Adam Habib’s office in protest since lunchtime Wednesday.

The Wits EFF are protesting their exclusion as an official club and society after their application for 2014 was rejected, allegedly because it was submitted late. A special application to be recognised as a club and society was rejected last month by the dean of students, Dr Pamela Dube.

At 4.30 pm this afternoon, Wits Vuvuzela saw six students in their red EFF t-shirts and berets  seated in the entrance to Habib’s office. The vice chancellor was not in the office as he is out of town.

“The VC is the office bearer, we are here to occupy the office, the space… the university cannot go on as usual as if nothing has happened,” said Wits EFF chair Vuyani Pambo.

The EFF protestors intend to eat, sleep and study in the office until they are recognised as an official society at Wits.

“We will be an official structure at Wits … We already exist in the hearts and minds of students, we just want to make things easier organisationally,” Pambo said.

The protestors have already spoken to Prof Tawana Kupe, the deputy vice chancellor of finance, who Pambo claimed “basically conceded that an unjust process has taken place … The correct procedure was not followed.”

Wits EFF’s application to be a club and society was rejected by the Student Representative Council, which is led by the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), because it was submitted late. Wits EFF claim the application was rejected for political reasons.

“I suppose they are scared, the PYA run SRC that is,” said Pambo.  “The corrupt SRC will not stop us.”

“It comes down to Wits’ political intolerance. This time last year, Pasma (Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania) were also denied recognition … We will not let that happen to the EFF,” said Monwabisi Dlangana, a member of Wits EFF.

As of Wednesday afternoon, only a handful of Wits EFF members had occupied the office. Pambo said they did not plan on filling the vice-chancellor’s office completely but would still escalate the protest.

“The numbers are there, but we don’t want to fill this place … This protest can escalate in other creative ways,” Pambo said.

PYA-EFF spat leaves disabled students out in the cold

PYA members burning project W T-shirts. Picture provided.

PYA members burning Project W t-shirts. Picture provided.

DISABLED Wits students lost their place at O-week due to an ugly spat between the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Members of the Wits Disability Unit—an office dedicated to helping disabled students—lost their spot in the O-week clubs and societies tent on Wednesday when their table was allegedly taken over by Wits EFF.The Wits Disability Unit was left off to the side with their materials pinned haphazardly to a table manned by three of their members, two of whom were in wheelchairs.
“Now we have to put our posters here,” said a unit member pointing to posters glued to a table.

[pullquote align=”right”]”They will never register us, they are ANC. They lie and say that we didn’t submit at all”[/pullquote]

The unit had a spot in the tent but, unlike many other clubs and societies, their table was without amenities like a bulletin board.
Wits EFF Chair, Vuyani Pambo said SRC clubs and societies portfolio holder Sarah Mokwebo asked Campus Control to evict Wits EFF from the tent. Mokwebo told them the Wits EFF table belonged to the Wits Disability Unit. She attempted to lead the Disability Unit back to the table occupied by Wits EFF but the red-beret clad students refused to move. “We won’t concede the space. We have our freedom of expression,” Pambo said.
Pambo accused Mokwebo of using the disabled students for “cheap politics”.
“She’s trying to play cheap politics by using disabled people. She was riding them on their wheel chairs,” Pambo said.
Both Mokwebo and SRC secretary Michlene Mongae declined to comment to Wits Vuvuzela on the spat with Wits EFF. Wits EFF are not a recognised club and society at Wits.Pambo said this was due to a rivalry with the PYA—which includes the ANC Youth League—that dominates the SRC. “They say we are not a club,” said Pambo.

“They will never register us, they are ANC. They lie and say that we didn’t submit at all.”

Wits EFF was not the only one of the PYA’s political rivals to be made unwelcome in the clubs and societies tent. On Tuesday, Projected W was forcibly ejected from the tent by PYA members led by Mokwebo. Like Wits EFF, Project W is not a recognised club and society at Wits.In cellphone pictures sent to Wits Vuvuzela by Project W, PYA members can be seen setting Project W t-shirts alight and stamping them underfoot.

Project W SRC member Jamie Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that his organisation was “banned” last year because of its constitution. Mokwebo rejected the claim that Project W had been banned. “It never existed,” she said.
Sithembiso Mphunyane, the secretary of the Wits SA Students Congress, said Project W and Wits EFF should not complain because “the law took its course”.
“[EFF] are an excited newborn…however they failed [to] meet the requirements by virtue of them not applying on time. Therefore [they] are not eligible to do anything on campus, they are not in any position to talk to students,” Mphunyane said.
Mphunyane called Project W “excited clowns that are just excited and mushroomed out the conditions of excitement”.
Mphunyane said they removed Project W from the tent at the request of the PYA members of the SRC.
However, he denied the PYA had used “physical” means to remove Project W.

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EFF triggers PYA exodus

SOME SRC members, who are also ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members, have dropped their black, green and gold T-shirts in favour of the red berets of Julius Malema’s new party.

SRC vice president internal, Tokelo Nhlapo, joined the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Tuesday after what he says was “a long time of introspection” and consultations with people he looks up to and admires.

“Joining the EFF is like jumping from a hot pot into a frying pan, but the EFF questions how the hell are white people living comfortably in this country while their people are suffering.”

In an article published in Wits Vuvuzela on July 19, Nhlapo said there was no difference between the ANCYL and the EFF, but accused the EFF executive of being “dodgy characters”.

“Julius was expelled from the ANCYL. Floyd [Shivambu] was expelled from the ANCYL,” he said at the time

NOT EFF’ing AROUND: Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo campaigning at Barnato Hall. He tells potential members “we should not fear to exist from white people”.  Photo: Thuletho Zwane

NOT EFF’ing AROUND: Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo campaigning at Barnato Hall. He tells potential members “we should not fear to exist from white people”. Photo: Thuletho Zwane

Nhlapo said he decided to join the EFF because the ANC betrayed the Freedom Charter and legitimised the poverty of black people while protecting white wealth.

Nhlapo’s sudden jump from the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), which includes the Wits ANCYL, to an opposition party comes at a time when the EFF is starting a branch on campus.

Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo, said he had been elected to help launch the EFF branch on campus. “We are launching this month but the date hasn’t been set yet.”

PYA and South African Students Congress (Sasco) member Mbe Mbhele has also jumped ship and was seen campaigning for the EFF at Barnato residence on Tuesday night. “I am a member of Sasco but I campaign for the revolution,” Mbhele said.

Wits ANCYL secretary Yamkela Fanini said “such individuals [PYA members who are also EFF members] are termed as agents. But bazoba strong wethu those people [the EFF].”

Pambo said EFF had aligned itself with the Workers’ Solidarity Committee (WSC) and claimed most of workers had joined the EFF. “By Thursday we will have 200 members.”

Pambo said Wits EFF was in sensitive deliberations with members of the PYA, Young Communist League and Sasco but could not give their names because these individuals “hold positions in the SRC” and other ANC-aligned movements.

 

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