Parties agree to bring peace to University of Pretoria
A broad range of parties across the political spectrum have agreed to throw their collective support fully behind the re-opening of the University of Pretoria on Monday and to ensure that the university is not closed again‚ except under exceptional circumstances. The parties also agreed to call on all organisations on campus to denounce intimidation‚ disruption and violence‚ and to commit to channel their efforts to the proposed Transformation Forum and work to find solutions that are “in the best interest of the university‚ country and human development”.This was agreed to at a meeting in Pretoria on Sunday. The meeting was attended by the ANC‚ its youth league‚ the South African Communist Party and its youth league‚ Cosatu‚ the South African National Civic Association (SANCO)‚ the South African Students Congress (SASCO)‚ AfriForum‚ AfriForum Youth and the trade union Solidarity.The parties unconditionally denounced intimidation‚ disruption‚ violence and attempts to polarise the university community along racial lines‚ agreeing that the recent spate of violence on the campus was “was engineered by opportunists with no track record of providing credible leadership and workable solutions where these are required”.The parties agreed that without decisive and strategic leadership by parties on the university campus‚ the situation had a potential to polarise the university along racial lines‚ and “create a deep-seated grievance that may continue to pose a real danger to the future stability and unity of the University”.They further agreed to embrace an environment characterised by peace‚ stability‚ open dialogue and non-racialism‚ in which all students‚ workers and other sectors of the university could live side by side without any exposure to any form of threat to their lives‚ bodily harm‚ racial abuse‚ prejudice and bigotry.The parties also agreed to support the broader ongoing process of change and overall improvement of the university‚ and to clear any obstacles that created conditions and feelings of alienation by any section of the university community.“The parties noted the history of our country to elevate and privilege some languages above other languages as a past that should not be repeated and sustained in any form.“The parties also agreed that the best approach to the language question‚ especially regarding those languages guaranteed and protected by the country’s Constitution‚ is to focus on their development as opposed to attacking and attempts to liquidate any of these‚” the parties said in a statement.They said it had also been agreed that no constitutionally-protected language must be threatened by misguided calls to fall‚ or be elevated or privileged above others as this might further undermine the development of other languages‚ especially indigenous languages.“The parties further agreed that any process affecting any constitutionally recognised language in whatever manner‚ should be credible and be underpinned by respected basic tenets of democracy‚ such as inclusivity‚ transparency‚ mutual respect and proper consultation to hear the views and aspirations of all interested parties.“The parties therefore agreed that feelings of vengeance‚ revenge and hatred must not be allowed to play any role in matters affecting higher education institutions‚ especially on sensitive and emotive issues such as languages.“Parties further agreed that any populist‚ demagogic‚ unilateral and undemocratic resolution of the language issue that uses intimidation‚ disruption and violence should be unconditionally rejected.“It is this recklessness‚ lack of foresight and sensitivity that constituted an area of common and serious concern to the parties‚” the statement read. The parties resolved to call on the UP Management and Council to urgently and with immediate effect create a democratic and inclusive Transformation Forum as a special mechanism to resolve urgent questions of transformation and the language policy.“The outcome of such a process should reflect the unity and diversity of the campus community‚” the parties said. . They added that they would call on the UP Management and Council to discharge their duties and responsibilities to protect human life and property‚ and guarantee protection of rights of students‚ workers and other sectors of the university to learn and work in a safe environment. “The parties called on the University Management to enforce the University’s Rules and Code of Discipline‚ and exercise their full authority against any form of intimidation‚ disruption and violence. I “In this regard‚ the parties agreed that the power to protect life and property rests squarely and firmly within the UP Management and Council (supported by the South African law enforcement agencies).”The parties found it “regrettable and unfortunate” that the UP Management and Council had closed the university without taking any form of action against those who had perpetrated acts of intimidation‚ disruption and violence that had brought the good name of the university into disrepute.In conclusion‚ the parties called on law enforcement agencies to protect the rule of law and enforce constitutionally recognised rights and freedoms.