Political parties will maximise on student unrest - political analyst

2016-02-23 14:00

Building names at TUKS still celebrate Apartheid 'heroes' - EFF

2016-02-23 13:24

Tensions at the University of Pretoria and the University of Free State continue to be stoked, as AfriForum and the EFF host simultaneous protests at the two universities respectively.WATCH

Johannesburg – Some political parties will see opportunities in the current student conflicts but there is no third force involved, political analyst and Wits University Professor Daryl Glaser said on Tuesday.

As campus protests spread from Pretoria to Bloemfontein, Glaser said: “There is a more militant group within the student movement that constantly wants to reframe and radicalise its demands and the EFF sees potential for maximising its potential by backing that group.”

Glaser said while he does not see a third force instigating the student race wars, different political parties such as the African National Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters were big players in the student uprisings.

“South Africa is a multi-party democracy and a partisan country. Political party politics affect all levels of political activity in the country and it affects institutions as well... The ANC has had this very ambivalent approach to the student unrest, on one side it has wanted to ride on the back of it to claim support for the students. On the other side it wants to rein the protest in.

"There is a more militant group that constantly wants to reframe and radicalise its demands and the EFF sees potential for maximising its potential by backing that group,” he said.

‘Racially polarising elements’

Glaser said with the #FeesMustFall student campaign last year the country saw the strength of the student movement come out.

“But even during that phase we saw problematic moments like at the Union Buildings. But more recently especially with the resumption of hostilities in 2016 we have seen pro-violence elements and some of the more racially polarising elements come to the fore.”

Glaser said while he did not see EFF support in the recent student protest translating in the polls come this year's local elections, the bigger danger is people getting hurt.

“We have seen clashes between students and police. When we see clashes between students it will change the climate and it will become dangerous,” he said.

This comes after chaos erupted when black and white students clashed at the University of Pretoria and the University of Free State on Monday. Social media was dominated by fears of racial violence, with some even going as far as to say the events were a declaration of “war”.

EFF leader Julius Malema and FF Plus leader Corné Mulder weighed in on the unrest on social media, calling for their followers to crush the other’s political parties.

Student unrest started earlier this month when University of Cape Town students erected a corrugated iron shack, complete with a port-a-loo, at the campus on Monday, in protest against student accommodation shortages.  

Read more on:    ff plus  |  eff  |  julius malema  |  corne mulder  |  politics  |  university fees  |  protests  |  university protests

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