Press Release Issued by the Economic Freedom Fighters, 27 May 2013:
EFF condemns unisa management for cancelling the seminar because of threats of distruption from nehawu/ancyl/sasco
Economic Freedom Fighters utterly condemns UNISA for withdrawing the permission for the seminar on Land Reform, organised by Academic and Professional Staff Association, on the eleventh hour. The seminar was supposed to interrogate whether the ANC’s policy of Willing Buyer, Willing Seller has succeeded or not. UNISA withdrew the permission it gave for the seminar to go ahead in the morning of the seminar, claiming to have received threats from HEHAWU and SASCO that they will disrupt the event if it goes ahead.
Such are no necessary grounds to discontinue learning in institutions, not when you know who has given a threat and you know that it is basically unconstitutional. In an instance like this, it is the duty of an institution to protect its activities, students and the rights of all in it.
EFF could not stop attend knowing that it had communicated widely that its Commander in Chief, a student of the university himself, fighter Julius Malema was going to address. We had to arrive and demonstrate that we take the message we gave to our people seriously. In addition, it is noteworthy that EFF’s meetings everywhere are being treated the same by institutions of higher learning and those related to government. The same threats of disruptions occurred in the University of Johannesburg last month. People give threats to EFF, forcefully wanting it not to be heard, thus our activities are disrupted without any form of protection from authorities. Instead those in positions of authority join in with hooligans to undermine our rights to freely associate and openly express our views.
EFF is an official political party and has the right to partake in open dialogue. All those who want to associate with it must freely do so without any threats of harm or job-loss. We will not curcamb to threats, even of death, by those who are afraid of our ideas. Thus, the message we always give to our members is to protect their meetings, as it is their constitutional right to gather.
Yesterday, the police stood by as people refused our right to gather threw bottles at us and at those who innocently came to hear the lecture from Commander in Chief. But because those who were demonstrating against our meeting were an embarrassing handful, we could easily outnumber them and continue the lecture. Now they choose to discredit our brave act of continuing learning on the floors, in the sun locked outside the halls of the university.
The University must be ashamed that it bowed to such pressure and did not defend academic freedom and institutional autonomy. UNISA is a public university and it belongs to all South Africans. It is not the private property of self-appointed organisations of students and workers of the university who in anyway are meant to ensure that the doors of learning and culture are open to all. It is meant to resist its institutional autonomy being toyed with by people who are afraid of robust dialogue.
Economic Freedom Fighters is prepared to defend its ideas and the freedom to advance them in public platforms. Many indeed try to stop us, silence us or wish us away because our ideas are fire and resonate with the popular classes. Most importantly, our ideas threaten to unseat the self-hating ANC government in favor of a revolutionary and progressive program of economic freedom in our lifetime.
We call upon UNISA management to apologies for creating the conditions for EFF’s right to freedom of association to be undermined and not defend its student, the EFF commander in chief, to participate in the open learning and debate on campus.