Numsa Condemns Excessive Force Meted Against Students and Demands Immediate Release of All Students

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) strongly condemns the excessive force used by repressive organs of the State, especially by the police to undermine students’ dissent and their legitimate demand for free education.
Yesterday Wednesday 21 October 2015, during Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s tabling of the Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) to the National Assembly, angry protesting students under the banner #FeesMustFall had gathered outside parliament’s precinct to demand free education from their elected public representatives. The students’ action was met with police brutality, with scores of un-armed students injured, and others wrongfully arrested.
Yesterday’s police actions are reminiscent of the tactics used by the old Apartheid police force, to terrorise, torture and mutilate our people in townships, hostels, factories and campuses. Yesterday’s violence against students by police clearly demonstrates that our country is descending into a police State where gun wielding men and women in uniform protect the “peoples’ parliament” from the people themselves.
Having lost the force of argument, it resorts to the argument of force. Such actions amount to a public confession by the ANC government that it has lost the confidence of the working class and the poor, whose aspirations it claims to represent. Students must resolutely defend their independence from the attempt by the representatives of the hyenas or political elite that has created this crisis to usurp leadership of this movement.
In the final analysis, these events confirm, as did the Marikana massacre, that a government committed to the preservation of capitalism, when faced with a choice between the will of the people and the will of the capitalist elite, will choose the latter. Such is the role of the state under the capitalism.
The current upsurge for Free Education by students is yet another demonstration of the incapacity of Capitalism to meet the needs of the people and the necessity for the socialist transformation of society. Numsa salutes the students, urges them to stand firm for a 0% fee increases, to demand free education and to use this opportunity to unite themselves into an independent, democratic, accountable mass student movement for a socialist South Africa.
Numsa calls its members, as parents of these fighting students, to join the demonstrations, as a way of providing support and solidarity. The proposed increases if they go ahead, are going to have a serious and disastrous impact on the livelihood of workers, who are the hardest hit by meagre wages, amidst the escalating cost of living in modern day colonial and Capitalist South Africa.
Numsa is committed to supporting a mass movement modelled around the former United Democratic Front’s (UDF) National Education Crisis Committee (NECC) to take forward this struggle. As workers, we are fully aware that there is no fictitious wall between service delivery, free education, quality health-care struggles, and struggles of workers on the shopfloor. The moment calls for the unity of workers-and-youth axis to reclaim its rightful role and build mass power from below to fight against the dictatorship of the rich, in favour of the dictatorship of the poor majority.
Lastly, we applaud the Law Centre for providing practical solidarity by representing the arrested students. This action needs to be rivaled by other organs of people’s power, namely the churches, trade unions and civil society formations.
Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson
M: 083 627 5197