I am not going to argue the case for the Economic Freedom Fighters Students Command (EFFSC) WRITES SIYA NYULU. I have already done that through the contribution I gave to the document being compiled by the Central Students Command Team (CSCT) which will be presented by the EFFSC CSCT delegates at the National People’s Assembly in December at Nasrec.
In the hopes of saving the EFFSC from disbandment I have further spoken to a few delegates from the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng, lobbying them to defend the EFFSC when it is being discussed. I’m writing this just to touch on a few things that were mentioned by the Commander in Chief Julius Malema at last week’s press conference about the EFFSC. Some things that were said about the EFFSC in that press conference are not true.
Many who were watching that press conference heard for the first time that the disbandment of the EFFSC will be a discussion point at the NPA, but to us fighters in the CSCT, BCTs, and ground forces it’s nothing new. The CIC mentioned at the 3rd NSA that the recommendation of launching of a students’ command was an ill-advised political mistake. Also sentiments like the EFFSC is “useless” is not new to us. We’ve been called useless by PCT members, RCT members, parliamentarians and even members of the CCT. Really it being said in a press conference is just further opening the wound. We’ve been insulted to our faces before by people who come to our campus rallies which are packed with people mobilised by ground forces.
It is not true that the students command can’t do anything on its own and that we can’t win SRC elections without Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. There are branches like UniZulu, CPUT and UCT EFFSC who have won SRC elections without the assistance of anyone from the CCT. Equally, Ndlozi’s presence does not mean EFFSC will win. Ndlozi has been at an elections rally at NMU in 2017 and still the campus is run by SASCO; in 2017 the spokesperson was at WSU Queenstown and still that campus is ruled by PASMA; Ndlozi was at Wits in 2017 and they lost that year to PYA. Yes, the spokesperson’s presence assists in some ways but in most cases it does not determine whether you will win or lose. SRC elections are won in January and February and it is won by working the ground and interacting with your voters.
I don’t see anything wrong with seeking the help of our mother body because at some campuses like UFS, UNIVEN, UKZN, NWU etc SASCO losing elections frustrates the ANC. It must be remembered that certain SRC’s have significant power in their institutions -they are the deciding voice on who gets the tender, while some are rudderless with no power and influence, example Rhodes University SRC. You will find that EFFSC is not contesting SASCO but actually contesting Ace Magashule who will pour thousands of money to make sure SASCO does not lose that campus.
The “animals” the CIC was referring to are members who are constantly using their social media platforms to undermine and ridicule the leadership of both the EFF and EFFSC, who would rather write on Facebook or Twitter than use organisational platforms to raise their frustrations. They are a group of misogynist men who make the space rather toxic. Their social media ramblings are self-contradictory and will lead to nothing but self-destruction and if the EFFSC doesn’t cleanse itself of these bullies then the masculine culture of the EFFSC will not go anywhere.
The student command has been showing signs of problems even before NSA and that’s what I think lead to the talk of disbandment. Ours is to show leadership that this thing can be fixed, not go online to make a noise and give leadership ammunition to continue with the disbandment. However, it must be noted that the EFFSC inherited its masculine culture from the EFF which is something that cannot go unnoticed. I therefore agree with the CIC when he says “we are not expelling enough”. The organisation needs to rid itself of individuals who are misogynist, who feel entitled to positions, who are imposing their friends and girlfriends to leadership positions and who are using public platforms to bring the organisation’s name into disrepute. Indeed too many people are using the EFF/SC for their self-enrichment.
I just want to warn vice-chancellors, racist members of senate, as well as other student organisations that they must not get too excited. Disbandment is not set in stone. The EFFSC has a large electorate that depends on it to help them in January when they can’t register; to help them get accommodation because they haven’t been accorded space in university residence; to provide them with food through the #MealADay campaign; and to some in Cape Town the EFFSC has been the only organisation to help them get driving licences. They need the EFFSC because there is no other radical, militant student organisation that will save students from systematic exclusion and institutional racism. TVET colleges students are getting shot, arrested, suspended without anyone from the opposition giving a damn.
I think the CIC is starting conversations which are long overdue by raising the issue of disbandment. EFFSC needs to self-introspect and show how they’ve contributed to the growth of the EFF. If anything the focus right now should be on launching branches, and thinking about starting branches in private colleges. EFFSC also needs to prioritise political education programs because many do not know what the EFF/SC stands for.
The student’s wing should defend itself with confidence because there are people who are lying to the extent of saying EFFSC no longer pursues the struggle of students. The biggest mistake the EFFSC will make in this “disbandment” discussion will be not owning up to its victories and progressions and going into this debate with a defensive mode.
Siya Nyulu is a student activist and student leader at Rhodes University currently doing her honors in Multimedia Studies. She’s also the EFFSC national gender officer.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policies of The Daily Vox.