Under the guise of a pro-free education protest, rioters led by far-left political factions have managed to disrupt the Student Representative Council elections at the University of Pretoria, leading to their temporary postponement.
The campus newspaper Perdeby reported around noon on 20 September 2016 that all but one of the voting stations on UP’s Hatfield Main Campus were still functioning, according to the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
The riots at Tuks began around midday on 19 September when the radical quasi-communist Economic Freedom Fighters’ student branch – some of whom were dressed in military-esque uniforms – led a procession of students away from the Piazza where the EFF was giving election speeches for the upcoming vote. This group of students disrupted lectures at the Thuto Building before things calmed down for the day.
Expecting a heavy defeat in the SRC election, the EFF ‘Student Command’ made demands that the elections be “stopped”, as well as for decreased fees. Clearly, the EFF’s more base electoral ambitions were at the root of the latest disruption, with any real socioeconomic concerns being a convenient secondary consideration.
Below: Rioters surround the main voting station in the Piazza of the University of Pretoria.
Certain semester tests and academic activities have been suspended at the University of Pretoria, following similar suspensions at other institutions, such as the University of Cape Town.
At the University of the Witwatersrand, meanwhile, an anonymous source has indicated that protests in and around that campus will be aimed at “[disrupting] also a fairly large portion of the working class, so as to have our cause recognised and our calls heeded far beyond varsity”. It is inspiring to see the socialist solidarity with the working poor in practice. Further implying that South Africa’s economic downturn has not wrecked the lives of the poor to a great enough extent, the Wits rioters intend to “disrupt the whole country’s economic activity by invading the JSE headquarters.”