“I came here after being told that our event was cancelled because the management didn’t approve. As I was entering it was headlines on Metro FM (saying) that ‘Malema was stopped from coming to Wits’, but I was entering the campus at that time.”
ANC Youth League president Julius Malema was addressing an over-crowed, stuffy lecture hall full of students at the University of the Witwatersrand on Friday afternoon.
He was scheduled to talk at the Oliver Tambo Memorial Lecture about “Economic freedom in our lifetime”, but ended up directing the majority of his speech to the university's newly elected Student Representative Council (SRC). The student council was inaugurated by vice-chancellor Loyiso Nongxa on Monday.
“The responsibility of this SRC is to protect your rights, not to smile with management. Their responsibility is not to come to you and explain why management cannot implement your demand.”
He said students should hold the SRC as its members make promises to deliver and use "uncompromising language" before getting elected. "Once they get elected, instead of transforming institutions they get transformed by the institution. We have people who become sellouts in the process, even the most revolutionary, the most committed communist, the left.
Once they get positions in government they forget to even pronounce a word nationalisation. They talk of greater state control and ownership. Because this person is transformed by what he was supposed to transform.”
Malema also told students that once people are elected into the SRC, they are told of protocol that cannot be changed, hence a previous Wits SRC president David Masondo failed to make any changes during his tenure.
“Those that put you in power didn’t put you there because you are beautiful or because you are a good dancer or you dress smart. They put you there because they want change.”
He elaborated saying that when one comes into office, they must make changes immediately to show that there is a new person in power.
“It’s no longer business as usual,” he said as there was laughter, jeering and clapping from the crowd.
The youth leader placed emphasis on long queues at the NSFAS office saying they should increase its capacity to accommodate the huge amounts of students who require assistance.
He further said students are disadvantaged by decision makers.
“They have made True Love magazine cheap and academic books very expensive, because they want us to produce a society of illiterate people.”
Malema says that academic books should be made affordable with government must subsidising their budget.
"Youth leaders on campuses have the responsibility to ask the government to subsidise academic materials."
He also mentioned Oliver Tambo who was expelled from Fort Hare Univerisity for his political activism. "Tambo is one leadership we must follow. Mandela and his generation were accused of being disrespectful."
"It doesn’t matter whether we are disrespectful or not, we have a clear agenda. Our agenda is political freedom in our lifetime. Our mission now is economic freedom in our lifetime. We cannot be defined as the Boom Shaka, Zahara or Professor generation. We are a generation of economic freedom fighters."
He further stated that mines are still owned by white males.
“Our struggle was never against white people but the system of oppression and we will continue to fight that system. We cannot say South Africa belongs to all who live in it, but blacks have nothing to show for it.”