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03 Nov 2009 12:11
The African National Congress (ANC) in the Free State on Tuesday came out in support of the University of the Free State’s transformation programme.
Free State ANC chairperson Ace Magashule, who is also provincial premier, said the party fully backed the process decided on during last week’s meeting between UFS rector Jonathan Jansen and the ANC Youth League.
“We, however, insist that the process has to be inclusive of all university stakeholders, which are very important.”
Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Jansen, Magashule said the purpose of the talks was to find a common platform for both the party and the provincial government to “lend practical support” to the transformation program of the UFS.
Jansen drew severe criticism recently when he announced that four former students of the Reitz men’s residence, who landed the institution in a race row in 2008, would be allowed to continue studying if they wished.
The four filmed an initiation of five black staff members into hostel activities. The employees, four women and a man, were seen on their hands and knees eating food which had apparently been urinated into by a white student.
The former students currently face charges of crimen injuria in court.
Their case was postponed to February 24 2010.
Jansen’s initial decision to pardon the four, which was widely criticised by the ANC and its alliance partners, was followed by “interactions”.
“During the interactions there were still points of differences, but I think what people have realised what we need to do as different stakeholders was to give each other space and time to deal with challenges facing education at University of the Free State.”
Magashule said calls for Jansen to resign were no longer an issue as the university had opened itself to talks on the matter.
“We are dealing with bigger things of transformation.
The ANC was also planning discussions with the UFS council, which had been criticised for being too white.
Jansen told the briefing he was impressed by the openness of Magashule’s office and the positive spirit in which the discussions had been held.
The UFS had decided on a “let’s talk again” approach to find ways for the institution to change.
Jansen was convinced that as the current discussions developed, the UFS would have an answer for its students, staff and surrounding communities on how to move forward.
“We are going to talk through these problems with the goal of reaching a resolution. We have a process that hopefully everybody can agree to as to how the university moves forward,” he said.—Sapa
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