/ 20 May 2009

YCL suspends planned mass action at Unisa

The Young Communist League (YCL) has suspended Thursday’s planned mass action at University of South Africa (Unisa) campuses in protest against its vice-chancellor, Barney Pityana.

Instead, the league and the South African Students Congress (Sasco) will hold talks with the institution’s management in Pretoria.

”We strongly believe that the forced meeting presents us with an opportunity to engage Unisa management to adhere to our demands as part of our efforts of safeguarding Unisa’s reputation and rescuing it from sinking to the gutter under the stewardship of Pastor Pityana,” said Sasco spokesperson Castro Ngobese.

The league had threatened to shut down the institution until Pityana resigned, saying he ”lacked vision”.

Unisa confirmed it would be meeting the YCL to address the issues it had raised recently.

Unisa spokesperson Doreen Gough said Thursday’s meeting was facilitated by the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande.

However, Ngobese said students would resort to strike action should management fail to meet their demands.

”We will regroup and mobilise our forces to render the university ungovernable,” he said.

Both the YCL and Sasco called on students who had been financially excluded from writing exams to use Thursday in preparation for their mid-year exams.

Sasco said it would never rest until ”sanity prevails” in the institution and ”His Majesty Pityana” is gone.

The YCL denied Pityana’s ”political affiliation” had anything to do with their demand for him to step down.

Many believe Pityana’s apparent support of the Congress of the People, a party that broke away from the African National Congress, made him unpopular.

Meanwhile, Sasco said the findings of the racism commission vindicated their long-held observation that a majority of institutions continue to be ”a paradise of white patriarchal racist male chauvinism”.

”[They] resist transformation on the pretext of institutional culture and autonomy,” it said.

The report on transformation and social cohesion and the elimination of discrimination in public higher education institutions was released this week.

In the report, concerns were raised about racism at various levels at universities.

Sasco called upon the Ministry of Higher Education and training to speedily act upon and implement the recommendations of the commission. — Sapa