Disruption threats against Mamphela Ramphele come to naught

2013-08-09 09:45

A lecture by Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele went ahead peacefully in Pietermaritzburg last night despite threats of disruption from an ANC-aligned student body.

Ramphele spoke at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) on the role of ordinary citizens in political change, with particular reference to the role of women.

Earlier, she had been a keynote speaker at a women’s breakfast at Durban’s International Convention Centre. From there, she addressed students and staff at UKZN’s Westville campus on gender-based violence in South Africa before moving to Pietermaritzburg.

There was a strong police contingency after the South African Student Movement said UKZN was an ANC university, therefore a no-go zone for Ramphele.

The bitter-sweet reception was clearly visible when the floor was opened for questions following Ramphele’s address. Ramphele was challenged on the lack of transformation, particularly when it comes to the issue of race during her tenure as vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

A student said the ANC had given them the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nasfas) which allowed people like him access to university.

To this, Ramphele answered: “The freedom you enjoy today, I fought for. The NSFAS you speak about I started it under IDC. If you’re going to be critical, be factual.”

Another student said the lack of delivery by the ANC government had to be measured, “it can’t be 20 years of nothing”.

Later, speaking to journalists, Ramphele said she had heard that there was a ruckus over her coming to Pietermaritzburg.

Commenting on her young critics she said: “... I think what we are dealing with here was not necessarily directed at us as Agang alone.It is a general culture of intolerance of any opposition,” she said.

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