The EFFSC’s Inam Kula and Mbali Zondo On Being Women In Politics

The newly unveiled Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) will soon be taking up their positions. FATIMA MOOSA and SHAAZIA EBRAHIM spoke to incoming treasurer-general, Inam Kula and deputy secretary-general, Mbali Zondi, about their plans for the upcoming term. 

Inam Kula, treasurer-general for the EFFSC, an architecture student at the University of Cape Town 

How RMF and FMF influenced Kula’s journey in student politics 

Kula says when she first started studying at UCT, she was very focused on her studies, and not on student politics. However, studying at the time of the Rhodes Must and Fees Must Fall movements conscientised” her.

“Obviously being in a space like UCT where students are marginalised I did feel the oppression,” said Kula adding that she didn’t have the words to describe how she was feeling as a black student at UCT. 

During the Fees Must Fall protests she started participating in student politics and later joined the Wits EFF leadership while completing her honours at the University of Witwatersrand. “That’s when I will say I formally joined the leadership,” said Kula. She says she has also contributed to the party outside of leadership structures. 

Kula said: “That’s how I got elected to the national structures because I guess people recognised the work that I had been doing for the organisation.” Kula said she is honoured to have been chosen for the leadership position and “understands the great responsibility that comes with this role. I’ll start taking it in once I’ve done the work.” 

Plans for their upcoming term 

Kula says she can’t wait to get started with her position as she has many goals she wants to achieve. Chief amongst those is that fact Kula says students “have not achieved our generational mission which is free, decolonised education.” 

Kula said: “My role as the treasurer-general would be able to fundraise and not just act as a financial administrator of organizational sponsorship.”  

In her role as the treasurer-general, Kula hopes fundraise enough money so that the EFFSC can be relatively autonomous from the EFF. 

The biggest challenges for students 

Kula says there are many problems facing students with the biggest issues being that of financial exclusion and “systematic exclusion of not being able to run programmes that benefit poor and marginalised students.” She says another issue at UCT is that of institutional racism which is faces students at previously white institutions. 

On being a woman in politics 

On being a woman in politics Kula says the question of being a woman in politics is a difficult one, and the difficulties women face in society are not exclusive to politics, and are similar even in her career field of architecture.

“it’s going to take a very intentional effort from us to sit down and say what we as women, collectively, want the space to look like.” 

She wants there to be an intentional and inclusive conversation from women and black women especially, about what the political space and society at large should look like.

Mbali Zondo (26), deputy secretary general of the EFFSC, Honours in Bcom Management at the University of KwaZulu Natal

Joining the EFFSC during Fees Must Fall 

For Zondo, getting involved in student politics was a natural progression. She joined the EFFSC during her first year at varsity. “I joined the EFFSC when it was not fashionable to wear that red t-shirt,” Zondo said in an interview with The Daily Vox. “But for us the idea was beyond, so we chose not to have friends and not be popular and not to go out and stay home and grow this movement,” she said.

Zondo also joined the EFFSC during the Fees Must Fall movement and felt that the student party echoed her own ideas about free education. Free education is a cardinal pillar in the EFF and the EFFSC. The EFFSC vanguard that she joined are young, vibrant and committed to take the struggle forward through productive engagement. 

Fees Must Fall is not over

There are a number of concerns facing students. One of them is accommodation. “That is why as the EFFSC we say, ‘Accommodation is land’ because without the land being brought back to the rightful owners for fair redistribution, then we are going to face issues like student residences,” Zondo said. Many university residences are expensive, others are unsafe. 

Another challenge is the issue of tuition fees. Zondo says the students will sing the song of free education until it is realised. “Fees limit, suppress and cut off black people from the system. We afford education based on our ability to pass, not based on monetary institutions,” Zondo said. If fees do not fall, Zondo says there are plans to take the fight back to the streets. “We just need new tactics and strategies and a way to unify students,” she said. 

Other issues Zondo highlighted include registration fees, providing students with disabilities with aid, subsidising public transport for students, and cancelling student debt.

Zondo also says universities need to change the curriculum to complement the fourth industrial revolution.  

The EFFSC’s upcoming programmes

In the next few weeks the EFFSC will be calling for justice for Mlungisi Madonsela, the student who was shot at DUT. The EFFSC will also be calling for detained FMF activist Khaya Cekeshe to be freed from jail, and the suspension of FMF activists to be lifted. 

In the long term the EFFSC wants to work on the challenges Zondo mentioned earlier. Solutions include getting government to release buildings for student accommodation, and curriculum changes. Among other things, the SC wants to expand the student feeding scheme and ‘One Pad, One Condom’ campaign. 

Being a woman in politics means constantly calling out patriarchy

“Being a woman in politics is not easy,” Zondo said. It’s not different from being a woman in the workplace, in a classroom, at a household, on the streets. Since we all operate in the same society with the same societal norms, she says, we can’t expect men in political spaces to be more perfect than other men. 

In her own career in student politics, Zondo has experienced a lot of sexism. “You are judged in political spaces, [male colleagues] want to dictate how you live your private life because they have given you a position which you have earned,” she said. Zondo says she calls out the little misbehaviours: telling colleagues to hush when she’s speaking, or sit when she’s standing, but also fighting double standards. 

“As a woman, I have taken a conscious decision to call out behaviour that I find oppressive,” Zondo said. As a woman in politics, Zondo says she feels a duty to call patriarchy out more. “In political spaces, it’s our duty to teach these men so they can teach their households and corporate spaces that continue to suppress women,” she said.

Zondo also struggles with rape apologists in political spaces, and men who think “a woman’s body is a political item”, talking about women and women’s struggles to further their own political ambitions.

But Zondo loves that the EFF and its SC enforce a 50+1 in their structures. She reminds women in politics that they have to stay unified and educate each other. “The biggest enemy is patriarchs who live to divide women,” she said. 

Featured image by Lizeka Maduna