Open letter to the United Front on #feesmustfall
The struggle for free,decolonised education requires the support of the broader working class, otherwise it will be severely limited. Which is the only force that can bring these masses to the streets, at the present time? To us, it is the United Front.
On the march to the Chamber of Mines
We salute the warning made by the Gauteng United Front to the students, not to go to the Cosatu march to the Chamber of Mines on the 14th Oct. We believe you make your criticism because of your revolutionary honesty and interest that the struggle for free education succeeds. Indeed, the aim of the Cosatu leaders, as confirmed by their recent CEC was to protect the govt and to heap the blame only on the capitalist class. Cosatu’s argument is false as the government was the one that reduced the tax rate on company profits from 45% to 28%. The government is the executive arm of the capitalist class and thus the concentration must be on the political. The state claims that it plays a role in social responsibility and they cannot be allowed to escape from this.,
Thousands of Cosatu workers took to the streets on the 7th Oct to protest, among other demands, for free education. This is a further signal that the masses are prepared to support the struggle of the students. Thus, perhaps, instead of a boycottist approach to the Cosatu march of the 14th Oct to the Chamber of Mines, a better position would have been to expose the aims of the Cosatu leaders and to have encouraged the #feesmustfall leaders to rather have met the Cosatu leaders and put their conditions, their full programme, including that of holding the govt to account and demanding that Cosatu actually organise thousands of workers to support the march. It would have been better to insist that all progressive social forces, such the United Front itself, have been allowed to join the march and joined the platform with their own slogans and speeches. Then we show in practice, who is for workers unity and who is really interested in a sustained fight against big capital and the regime. It is also an opportunity to reinforce the call for the expropriation of the mines and for these to be placed under workers control.
The relation between the struggle for free education and the struggle for Socialism
There can be no question of having Socialist Education in a capitalist environment. Indeed, what we have is capitalist education, that is suited to the economy being dominated by imperialist monopolies, which is based on cheap, unskilled labour required only for the plundering of raw, unprocessed materials. Thus it is by design that less than 3% of the population have tertiary qualifications. At the universities, big capital dictates what should be researched and what put aside.
How can we talk of free education only when more than 40% of the masses are unemployed? How can we talk about free education only, when millions live in shacks and in overcrowded conditions? Public health care has been collapsed on the altar of profiteering by the drug monopolies and banks.
Workers and the middle class regard a good education as a stepping stone to a decent life; yet the government is prepared to shut down the universities until the end of the year; big capital is not worried as there are no jobs in any case.
On the other hand the large scale theft by the monopolies through transfer pricing, casualization and low wages, runs into hundreds of billions of Rands, every year.
Without the entry of the broader masses into the struggle for free education, the student masses will be impotent and the state will prepare to sweep up sectors of the pro-establishment middle class against the movement.
Setting up committees of action
It is essential that the United Front issues its own programme in support of the struggle for free education. The broadening of feesmustfall structures to the schools and industrial areas is crucial:
Possible steps could include:
Calling for the state to cover all school fees at all ECD, primary and high schools- along with this, there should be the setting up of student, parent and progressive teacher committees at each school; for the setting up of industrial and residential area #feemustfall committees of workers and youth
The calling of parents to marches and protests against government to demand free education for all, an end to outsourcing, end to casualisation; an end to militarization of our campuses; for a decolonised, liberatory education; for all student leaders to be reinstated and charges against them dropped;
The urgent calling on social partners such as Numsa to lodge an application to Nedlac for a general strike and rolling mass action for free, Socialist education, the expropriation of the mines and banks, and for them to be placed under workers control; for housing for all, for free,quality health care for all and for all work to be shared among all who can work, without loss of pay. We include in all our demands that they extend to all immigrant workers and their families.
In the above, we call for the United Front to call all working class formations, independent unions, civics, and even Cosatu and affiliates. It must be clear to the masses, who is for a real fight for our demands and who is only interested in covering up the cracks of the capitalist system.
Yours in the struggle for Socialism
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