The United Front (UF) salutes the black students of the University of Cape Town in their successful principled fight for the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the university. The removal of the statue yesterday is a decisive and overwhelming victory! Your victory shows the importance of unity, people’s power and resolute action particularly in the face of misinformed critiques that you faced from many. The UF is heartened by how you turned the Mafeje room into a people’s university of debate, struggle and solidarity. We say viva to you!
This victory is a tribute to the struggles of all black working class people who continue to face racism, humiliation, exploitation and discrimination in the post-apartheid capitalist South Africa we still have. It opens the door to the long arduous path ahead to restore black working class dignity.
Your struggle and victory have opened the way to the rebirth of a radical, militant, anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-capitalist student movement. Over some 2 decades now, we have witnessed the weakening and cooption of the student movement and its leaders at the expense of the mass of black working class students who continue to suffer financial exclusions, and who continue to be taught an alien curriculum shaped by imperialist, anti-African, patriarchal and capitalist values. The racial, gender and class origins of the majority of academics and management staff at most of our universities reflect apartheid South Africa. The majority of working class children from our townships, informal settlements, inner cities and rural areas have no chance in hell to enter tertiary education.
The ANC government has failed to provide free, universal, quality education at school and tertiary levels. In the year of the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, the doors of learning and culture remain closed. This is completely unacceptable! Yet our country has all the resources to provide universal free education. Instead, the ANC allows the descendants of Rhodes and a few black capitalists to milk off profits from cheap black labour in the mines, farms, factories, and other places of exploitative employment in our country.
All these can only be fought against and defeated by your unity, struggles and solidarity as students, and in your unity and solidarity with the broader black working class. The UF extends its hand of solidarity as you face these broader struggles. The UF calls on you to unite with other students across all universities and other tertiary institutions of our country to take the struggle forward: Rhodes must fall everywhere! A new, anti-imperialist, non-sexist, universally accessible, decommodified African university and education system must arise!
Issued by United Front (UF)