Close to 11 000 workers have been insourced at universities since the beginning of the Fees Must Fall movement.
This is according to the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) organisational report, which was presented to 4 000 delegates at the party’s second policy and elective conference on Saturday. The four-day conference is being held in Johannesburg under the banner “consolidating the ground towards socialist power”.
The insourcing of workers at institutions of higher learning is counted among the victories of the EFF Student Command (EFFSC), which this weekend will have its fate debated amid suggestions that it should be disbanded.
According to the report, 10 902 workers have been insourced. The majority of these workers (2 246) were insourced at the University of Venda, followed by Vaal University of Technology (2 190).
The organisational report, presented by EFF secretary-general Godrich Gardee, notes that although these institutions “have paraded a convincing narrative of happy workers and good masters to the country, they have continued to frustrate, suspend and even fire workers they claim they have insourced”.
The report adds: “The EFF Student Command and the entire student populace has not won the struggle but has won crucial battles towards the insourcing of previously underpaid, abused and dehumanised workers.”
The student command was founded in June 2015 and rose to prominence during the movement for fee-free education, which kicked off later that year.
In 2015, the student wing of the EFF — now the third-largest political party in the country — only managed to secure Student Representative Council (SRC) wins at four campuses. By 2019, it had secured 29 SRC presidencies across most provinces, barring the Eastern Cape and the Free State.
The report further notes that the Fees Must Fall movement “has been heavily infiltrated and rigged by divisions”.
According to the report, early into its formation the EFFSC was forced into operating from within the movement due to it not having coordinating structures or branches in most South African universities.
The EFFSC has “paid dearly for this arrangement” as its members were consistently targeted for arrests, suspensions and expulsions, the report reads. There were over 400 student arrests between 2015 and 2016.
In the press briefing following the presentation of the organisational report, Gardee said that the EFF does not regret the association of the student command to the Fees Must Fall movement, which led to arrests and expulsions of its members. Gardee said the party was aware of the “inherent risk” of participating in a “revolution”.
EFF leader Julius Malema has in recent months questioned the usefulness of the party’s student wing.
In a November press briefing, Malema reportedly said leaders of the party “coerced us into forming a student command prematurely. Now we are sitting with an animal called the student command which cannot do anything without the mother body”.
Malema also reportedly said the EFFSC would lose SRC elections without the presence of the party’s leadership.
The EFF’s organisational report indicates that the party has noted “careerism and opportunism” as a challenge in the run-up to SRC elections.
The EFFSC “has over the years attracted opportunistic individuals” who have used it “for their own personal gains”, the report reads, adding that measures must be put in place to vet and monitor candidates before they are deployed.