Malema slams Wits EFF decision

2015-08-23 16:35
(Picture: Wits)

(Picture: Wits)

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Johannesburg - EFF leader Julius Malema rounded on Wits University Vice Chancellor Adam Habib on Sunday after the suspension of seven EFF supporters and the disqualification of its Student Command (SC) following a campus ruckus.

"@AdHabb you are extremely wrong and you know that, who are you to suspend a political formation because of conduct of individuals? Be warned," Malema tweeted.

The seven students were suspended after Vice Chancellor Adam Habib set up a probe into scuffles during a Student Representative Council (SRC) election debate on Tuesday.

The university said it had isolated 15 students after watching video footage of the debate between the EFFSC, the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYC) and student movement Project W.

The PYC includes the Young Communist League, the Wits Muslim Society and the African National Congress Youth League while Project W describes itself as a multiracial group that does so well on campus that it has been confused with campus management before.

Video footage of the debate shows students on stage stamping their feet and clapping during the debate, and a bout of pushing and shoving, before the debate was called off.

In a statement, the university said it immediately took action by identifying those involved. The vice chancellor and a committee met all of those involved, between Wednesday and Thursday.

It said eight expressed remorse and would still face a disciplinary process. They can still go to lectures. The other seven did not show remorse, according to the university, so have been suspended and had to leave the campus.

They will also go through a disciplinary, which is expected to be concluded before the end of September.

Recognition of the EFFSC, which the university calls the EFF Society, was also withdrawn and it has to reapply for recognition. The election to the student body is on August 27 and August 28 and it will go ahead with increased security.

"After the vice chancellor had viewed the video footage of the incident and consulted the Electoral Officer and her colleagues, he concluded that there seemed to be reasonable grounds for believing that the disruption of the debate was orchestrated by members of the EFF Society at Wits. All election candidates had committed themselves to a code of conduct and any disruption of the debate therefore constitutes a breach of this code of conduct," said the university.

'Headmaster, Hitler'

But EFF supporters took to Twitter to express outrage over the issue, believing the decision was anti-black and was taken under orders from Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande who has said he wants the EFF destroyed, when he was speaking in his capacity as SA Communist Party secretary general.

During the heated exchanges, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi called Habib "headmaster" and "Hitler" and at one point, while Habib was trying to justify its anti-violence stance, he referred to gangsters and tsotsis, when justifying the university's anti-violence stance.

"Students who are suspended are those who were involved in violence, threatened violence, and say they will do it again," said Habib in one tweet.

At the height of the exchanges, Ndlozi tweeted on Saturday: "Your hatred for EFF dear headmaster @AdHabb has turned u into a klein Hitler I see. Or some aspirant Verwoerd who ban people u disagree with".

And Habib wrote: "Have some confused radical with violence, protest with Tsotsi behavior, politics with gangsterism? This must be challenged!"

By Sunday Ndlozi tweeted: "@AdHabb let's say 5 EFF students are indeed violent; this does not constitute grounds to ban the whole EFF. That's collective punishments".

Meanwhile, EFFSC president Mpho Morolane told News24 they wanted an urgent meeting with Habib by Tuesday latest.

"They were evicted from campus, treated like hooligans, criminals," said Morolane.

"In our view it's a clear persecution as we have stated before, and we will challenge it in other avenues as well," he said.

"We are going to speak to the vice chancellor of the institution and the outcomes of that deliberation should then guide us to was what actions we should take."

The EFFSC believed that Habib's actions were politically motivated and mirrored actions at other universities and colleges.

"It was not only black students, but only members of the EFF Student Command that were suspended.

He believed there were actually eight suspended, contrary to the university's figure, and it was not conclusive that it was the EFF supporters who had started the altercation.

In the meantime, the EFF acting national spokesperson Fana Mokoena said its members constantly being harassed by the university, and that there are no consequences for other groups that cause disruptions.

He called on the university to reverse its "draconian decision" and rather focus on the incident of the disruption.

Read more on:    eff  |  julius malema  |  mbuyiseni ndlozi  |  adam habib  |  education
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