ANC accuses Anglican bishop of encouraging Fees Must Fall violence

2016-10-19 12:55
Clergy have supported the Fees Must Fall movement. (News24)

Clergy have supported the Fees Must Fall movement. (News24)

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Johannesburg - The African National Congress has slammed Anglican Bishop Jo Seoka, accusing him of encouraging violence during the crisis gripping tertiary institutions over fees.

The party has called on students to distance themselves from Seoka and the violence, saying it is delegitimising their "genuine" protest.

"We ask students to distance themselves, not just verbally but physically, from any groups or organisations perpetuating violence, including unfortunately the clergy that have gone to campuses and spoken about this government knowing only one language," ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said on Wednesday.

Duarte accused Seoka of preaching violence.

"This is not responsible language for a clergyman," she said.

Duarte was speaking following the ANC's national working committee meeting on Monday that discussed the Fees Must Fall protests which are threatening to collapse the 2016 academic year.

'We did not meet with SACC'

Seoka and Economic Freedom Fighters chairperson Dali Mpofu were part of the team that tried to mediate between students and management at Wits, after violent clashes students between students and police.

"We are still hurting from what happened at Marikana and we were very worried when we saw the same people who led people in Marikana leading student protests, when they are not students," Duarte said.

She also dismissed critics that have accused the ANC of being missing in action, while universities were facing the worst violence at campuses since the dawn of democracy.

"To say we were not there doesn't make sense to me. We were not going to stand in front of your cameras and make a lot of noise; we were talking to the students... Remember in volatile situation like this, to try and emerge as the hero of the day isn't our way of doing things.”

Duarte said the ANC had met with students, parents and church groups, but not with the South Africa Council of Churches.

"We did not meet with SACC, who on the same day made a huge speech that was not what was needed. It was not time for making huge speeches, but to get to grips and understand the depth of what students are about," she said.

'I don't think she deserves my comment'

Seoka laughed off Duarte's comments, but would not give a detailed comment.

"Look, I think she has a problem with herself. She has to appreciate what some of us are doing for the sake of harmony and peace. That is her opinion, she is misdirected. If it was somebody else, I would comment, but I don't think she deserves my comment," Seoka told News 24.

The ANC's national working committee has proposed a number of measures they believe can end the four-week-old crisis and "rescue the academic year”.

The NWC said government and universities should immediately end financial exclusion, scrap registration fees and interest on current loans, and allow students not on the NSFAS and who owed their universities money to graduate and receive their certificates.

This would allow the rest of the 2016 academic year to be salvaged, the NWC believed.

It called on students to return to lecture rooms and write their exams, warning that the more than 900 000 matriculants were writing exams and that some of them would need to access institutions of higher learning.

Read more on:    sacc  |  anc  |  university fees  |  university protests

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