Violence on campuses counter-revolutionary‚ says Mandela’s grandson
Nelson Mandela’s grandson‚ Mandla Mandela‚ has appealed to students across South Africa to “desist from violence‚ hate-mongering and the wanton destruction of educational infrastructure that our young democracy has invested in and requires for its growth‚ development and prosperity”.
Describing violence on campuses as “counter-revolutionary”‚ he said his grandfather ‘Tata Madiba’ had based the bedrock of the country’s transition to democracy on national reconciliation‚ social cohesion and nation-building.
“We have an immense burden of responsibility to ensure that incidents of racism and violence‚ such as witnessed at Free State University this week‚ are comprehensively addressed‚ uprooted and banished from the education milieu‚” Mandela said in a statement on Wednesday‚ adding that mayhem and destruction of property was criminal.
“The mindless violence by students this week is a stark warning of the price we will pay if we allow our higher education system to be held ransom to vacillating demands.
“The rights to protest and freedom of speech are entrenched in our Constitution for good reason. But such liberties come with great responsibilities and are not an automatic license to circumvent democratic processes and institutional frameworks that have been created to facilitate dialogue‚ arbitration‚ negotiation and peaceful resolution.
“It is irresponsible in the extreme to embark on action that leaves millions of Rand worth of damage in its wake‚ that disrupts the academic programmes at our colleges‚ technicons and universities‚ and ultimately deprives learners of the opportunity to ascend the stepping stones to academic and professional excellence‚” Mandela added.
He said that from the outside‚ the violence and destruction bore the hallmarks of “agent provocateurs at work – people who are intent on engaging in cheap political stunts to gain notoriety or a short cut up the steep political ladder”.
“We call on all South Africans to ensure that our campuses become beacons of light‚ illumination and learning rather than bastions of racism‚ exclusivism and criminality hiding behind the veneer of violent academic protest. Such phenomena only serve to undermine our democracy and erode our hard-earned gains‚” Mandela added.