Ahead of the national student assembly of the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC), the Daily Vox spoke to Philani Nduli, a KwaZulu Natal based nominee to the presidency. He first rose to prominence as the spokesperson for the #FreeBonginkosiKhanyile Committee, a collection of EFFSC students that campaigned to free the jailed Bonginkosi Khanyile. He was also suspended from the Durban University of Technology for on-campus activism. He shared his journey of presidential contestation with the Daily Vox.
Please tell us about your nomination as a contestant for presidential position?
I have been nominated by the KwaZulu-Natal branch to contest for the EFFSC presidency. This is an honour to me and since I’ve been nominated, it means that I’ve been tasked with a responsibility that I’m willing to take. Back in 2017, Bonginkosi Khanyile was the nominee and we did what we could to campaign. Currently I’m busy with campaigning myself, and I’m happy with the support I’ve received so far from the coastal provinces. Although there are challenges, it is noteworthy that there’s always challenges here and there.
Do you think you have all the support you need?
I have all the support I need although there are those who won’t support me because of differences. Even in 2017, there are branches who didn’t support Bonginkosi Khanyile; and it’s always like that. However, the numbers from the conference will be the determinant of how things pan out, but I’m hopeful that with their support, I’ll make it.
What does being nominated as a contestant mean for you?
Being nominated as a contestant for the presidential position for me is a responsibility more than anything. As cadres in the movement we take provisions as a responsibility more than a privilege; an honourable responsibility that we need to treat as such and grab it with both hands. I believe that I can do a great job in the position, and I’d say I’m the best person for the position currently.
Do you think some people might have expected Bonginkosi to be nominated again?
Although some people might have expected Bonginkosi to be nominated for contestation, which is okay for them to have such expectations, I would have been okay with it because he is a leader of the current generation. He’s like a Tsietsi Mashinini of our time and Onkgopotse Tiro. The system has dealt with him too much and he has been able to lead the narrative of the current generation. So, I don’t think people would be unfair on me for expecting such. But then again, Bonginkosi and I come from the same school of thought and are brothers. We are no longer just comrades, so whether it’s me or him leading, it doesn’t matter as long as we push the same ideas that we represent as a generation.
What do you think is the current state of the EFFsc; and should you win the contestation, what do you think you’d do differently?
The EFFSC as an organisation has grown quantitatively, we have won a number of campuses across the country, not only in universities but in training and vocational education training colleges as well. However, what is short in the organisation is quality growth. One needs to transform quantity into quality because we have a lot of numbers in terms of people who are voting for us, but what’s lacking is quality leadership in our institutions and that’s why we’re unable to sustain power in terms of the campused that we win.
We win them and then the opposition takes power back in the next elections. So, my task would be ensuring that I consolidate qualitative movement that would be informed by a very robust and innovative leadership with creative ideas on how to transform the institutions of higher learning.
But, most of the things that I will focus on when I’m president is the campaign for free education because it has not been implemented fully. There’s just adjustments on NSFAS loans turned into bursaries, which is not what we were fighting for as the Fees Must Fall movement. We were fighting for a completely free education.
Secondly, release of all the arrested Fees Must Fall activists. The likes of Khanya Cekeshe and Bonginkosi Khanyile, who is currently under house arrest.
What is your take on the capacity of women leadership within the organisation?
I believe EFFSC is an organisation that embraces women leadership, however, I do think it’s not enough, we can do more. One of the campaigns when I’m the president is political education so that we can capacitate our members, even women, so that they have confidence to contest. In most cases, women are not in leadership because they don’t avail themselves due to lack of confidence, which I think is a patriarchal issue.
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