Monday, 8 February 2016

Memorandum of Demands of landscaping, cleaning and other outsourced workers from UWC

Memorandum of Demands

08 FEBRUARY 2016

TO: Vice-chancellor and Rector;
CC: UWC Management; UWC Council

Dear Prof. Pretorius
We, the landscaping, cleaning, and other outsourced workers from the University
of the Western Cape resolved to remind you of our demands as follows:

1) We demand an immediate end to the outsourcing of jobs in all the above -
mentioned categories of employment. This demand should lead to the
termination of all contracts with service providers with immediate effect, so that
UWC directly employs all the outsourced workers on a permanent or full-time

2) We demand an immediate implementation of the minimum wage of R10
000 across the board. Our wages have remained stagnant, if not falling in the
past 15 years of outsourcing. Our families are starving, whilst the
principals/rectors and other university authorities, and ‘tenderpreneurs’
(contracted by UWC) gain from our hard work, and have become alarmingly
wealthy as a result, yet our lives remain the same.

The university allowance of R2000 is insufficient, even if it is combined with a
monthly wage of R2700, for a decent living, especially for the workers with the
greatest number of beneficiaries. Furthermore, the UWC allowance (R2000)
discriminates against casual workers who don’t receive this R2000 monthly

3) Moratorium on retrenchments of all workers employed in contracts and/or
immediate reinstatement of all the workers recently retrenched through
termination of contracts with service providers.
We therefore declare that nothing about us without us shall henceforth be valid
and morally binding on us. In pursuit of this declaration, we resolved to constitute
ourselves into #EndOutsourcing & #UWCFeesWillFall campaign, with elected
and accountable representatives from each and every company that provide
services for UWC through which we shall negotiate and without which no
agreement binding shall be concluded.

We also convey our unwavering support to all the demands of the #FeesMustFall
Movement for free, quality education and decent learning conditions in all the
institutions and pledge solidarity for all their future actions in pursuit of these and
other legitimate demands for people’s education.

We appeal for solidarity and active support from all the students, administrative
and academic staff of the university to our demands, struggle and any action we
may be forced to take in pursuit of the above demands.

Please kindly note that should you fail to comply with our demands, consider
yourself duly notified of our intention to strike with effect from the 10TH February
2016 and campaign to appeal for public support to our struggle for decent jobs
and wages.

Kindly note that should UWC Management/or UWC Council wish to meet with us,
kindly advise us of such intensions in writing by no later than Wednesday, 10th

February 2016.
Best wishes

#ENDoutsourcing Campaign 

[signatures edited]

SIGNATURE:…………………………………….. DATE: 08 FEBRUARY 2016

Sunday, 15 November 2015



As staff committed to a UWC where all are respected and listened to with the aim of being understood, we recognise that the issues currently facing UWC and higher education at large are complex matters. But this week and today the very existence and future of our university is in doubt.

For this reason, we call upon key role players at UWC to participate in a process of mediation and open conversation, preferably one facilitated by neutral external third parties. This must seek to collectively pave a way forward regarding the current impasse at the institution, to carry through on the processes set in motion and agreements reached thus far with the student movement, and to restore the campus to normality. We regard this as a matter of extreme urgency, to be resolved as soon as possible in the best interests of all parties and UWC at large.

Recognizing that the SRC is the democratically elected student body, we nonetheless believe that in this historic moment, we are called upon to open civic engagement on campus to broader participation by all relevant student interest groups. For this reason we advocate for the inclusion of representatives of the #FeesMustFall/FeesWillFall (UWC) movement, as well as the university executive, in the mediation process. Mass student meetings have demonstrated conclusively that the student movement, which emerged nationally in the last month, has substantial support at UWC.

What has been apparent on campus is the multiple manifestations of violence at both the physical level and at deeper structural levels. We strongly condemn the turn to physical violence to property and person by supporters of the student movement on Wednesday last week (11 November). At the same time, the heavy police presence and securitization of campus has contributed to a cycle of violence that ranges from rubber bullet injuries to the sexual harassment of female students.

We acknowledge that these strategies were put in place with the intention of safeguarding students and staff in the volatile situation created by the national student rising. However this kind of securitization, which was apparent from 23rd October escalating to the ‘campus lockdown’ over the weekend of 31 October-1 November, has given rise to conditions of mistrust, resistance, and fear. This was also heightened that weekend and into the following week by the use of a private security company many of whose employees were frightening-looking former soldiers.

Overall, the safety of students and staff alike has been called into question by acts of violence from both sides. Enormous damage has been done, both physical and emotional. We therefore reiterate the importance of a move toward non-violent approaches on all levels. Violence in any form, including that perpetrated by students on campus this week, is not condoned and is unacceptable as a means to solve the challenges we face.

Recognition of the multiple actors, silent and vocal, physical and structural, that underpin the prevalence and persistence of violence in post-apartheid South Africa is urgently necessary. It is important to acknowledge that underpinning the experience of physical violence on our campus are the much more insidious forms of structural violence that play out in so many ways in our students’ lives.

It is abundantly clear that the letter from the chairperson of the UWC council, Mthunzi Mdwaba, published on Monday 9th November, played a central role in reigniting protest action this week. In so doing it helped create the conditions in which violence has reached unprecedented levels.  We request that information be provided on whether or not the chair consulted with other council members before he issued the statement. We hope that the students’ request for an urgent meeting of council will be given due consideration and publicly supported by the university executive.
Finally, we request that executive management take urgent steps to remedy the extremely serious situation that currently obtains in student residences. Students are feeling highly exposed, vulnerable and under siege. These appalling conditions have contributed greatly to tensions on campus.

We call for the urgent opening of channels of communication between all stakeholders on campus, that are ongoing and sustainable, and that have at their centre a future non-violent approach.

We ask for all stakeholders at UWC to sign this statement as soon as possible, and to distribute it to other staff members.

We ask for all stakeholders at UWC to support this statement by sending  a message of support ( including your name and your department / position) to


First nameLast NameDepartment/PositionTitle
GordonAdamsDepartment of AccountingMr.
MeganAdamsInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Ms.
FionaAncianoDepartment of Political StudiesDr.
UrsulaArendsInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Ms.
FelixBandaDepartment of LinguisticsProfessor
Simon Beck Department of Religion and Theology, Philosophy DivisionProfessor
HeikeBeckerDepartment of Anthropology and SociologyProfessor
ShirleyBrooksDepartment of Geography, Environmental Studies and TourismAssociate Professor
LindsayClowesDepartment of Women's and Gender StudiesAssociate Professor
ErnstConradieDepartment of Religion and TheologyProfessor
InaConradieInstitute for Social DevelopmentDr.
Diane CooperSchool of Public HealthProfessor
BenCousinsInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Professor and SARChI Chair
CourtneyDavidsDepartment of EnglishDr.
PeterDelobelleSchool of Public HealthDr.
UmaDhupelia-MesthrieDepartment of HistoryProfessor and Deputy Dean, Arts Faculty
JackieDornbrackDepartment of Language EducationDr.
Andriesdu ToitInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) (Director)Professor
Marijkedu ToitTeaching and Learning, Faculty of ArtsDr.
AlexDubbInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian StudiesMr.
CharlinDyersDepartment of LinguisticsProfessor
HansEngdahlDepartment of Religion and TheologyExtraordinary Professor
Jean-BakaEntfellnerSANBI (UWC) and Department of Computer ScienceDr.
RogerFieldDepartment of EnglishDr.
DavidFisherDepartment of Medical BioscienceProfessor and Deputy Dean, Science Faculty
MikiFlockemannDepartment of EnglishExtraordinary Professor
Jung RanForteDepartment of Anthropology and SociologyDr.
AlisonFullardLibrary Services (Deputy Director)Ms.
DianaGibsonDepartment of Anthropology and SociologyProfessor
HeidiGrunebaumCentre for Humanities Research (CHR)Dr.
RuthHallInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Associate Professor
MaryHamesGender Equity UnitMs.
PatriciaHayesDepartment of HistoryProfessor and SARChI Chair
BradleyHazelSchool of Public HealthDr.
CarlaHenryInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian StudiesMs.
KateHighmanDepartment of EnglishDr.
PhilipHirschsohnSchool of Business and FinanceProfessor
Mark HoskinsDepartment of Political StudiesMr.
DonnaHornbyInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Dr.
MoeniebaIsaacsInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Associate Professor
PaoloIsraelDepartment of HistoryDr.
CatherineKellDepartment of LinguisticsAssociate Professor
GillianKerchhoffInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Ms.
LuciaKnightSchool of Public HealthDr.
RichardKnightDepartment of Biodiversity and Conservation BiologyDr.
ElizeKochDepartment of PsychologyExtraordinary Professor
Peter KohlerDepartment of EnglishMr.
AntjieKrogFaculty of ArtsExtraordinary Professor
Martin LegassickDepartment of HistoryProfessor Emeritus
UtaLehmannSchool of Public HealthProfessor
DesireeLewisDepartment of Women's and Gender StudiesAssociate Professor
SurayaMahomedSchool of Public HealthMs.
DeliaMarshallDepartment of PhysicsProfessor
VeronaMathewsSchool of Public HealthMs.
NamhlaMatshandaDepartment of Political StudiesDr.
GlentonMatthyseGender Equity UnitMr.
JulianMayInstitute for Social Development (ISD) (Director)Professor
RiedwaanMoosageDepartment of HistoryMr.
FairazMullageeSocial Law ProjectMs.
RedaNajaarAdministrator, UWC residencesMs.
SisaNgabazaDepartment of Women's and Gender StudiesDr.
DavidNevesInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Mr.
Meshach OgunniyiSchool of Science & Mathematics EducationProfessor Emeritus
MarshallOngansieDepartment of Mathematics and Applied MathematicsMr.
HelenaPerez NinoInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Dr.
Suren PillayCentre for Humanities Research (CHR)Associate Professor
LaurencePiperDepartment of PoliticsProfessor
PeterPluddemanDepartment of Language EducationDr.
JoelienPretoriusDepartment of Political StudiesDr.
RebeccaPointerInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Ms.
EfuaPrahDepartment of Anthropology and SociologyDr.
LeonPretoriusSchool of GovernmentDr.
MargaretProbynDepartment of Foreign LanguagesMs.
ThandiPuoaneSchool of Public HealthMs.
AlanRalphsDivision for Lifelong LearningMr.
CirajRassoolDepartment of HistoryProfessor
GavinReagonSchool of Public HealthDr.
EdnaRichChild and Family Studies Unit, Department of Social WorkMs.
NickyRousseauDepartment of HistoryMs.
DavidSandersSchool of Public HealthProfessor Emeritus
NikkiSchaaySchool of Public HealthSenior Researcher
Helen SchneiderSchool of Public Health (Head of School)Professor
VeraScottSchool of Public HealthDr.
NonhlanhlaShandu-OmukunyiDepartment of Language EducationMs.
TamaraSheferDepartment of Women's and Gender StudiesProfessor
SharynSpicerDepartment of Anthropology and SociologyDr.
RonaldSpringfieldSchool of Business and FinanceMr.
ChristopherStroudCentre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research (CMDR) (Acting Director)Professor
TrishStruthersSchool of Public HealthExtraordinary Associate Professor
EmmanuelSulleInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Mr.
BarbaraTapelaInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Dr.
LungiswaTsolekileSchool of Public HealthMr.
Petervan HeusdenSANBI (UWC)Mr.
JacolienVolschenkDepartment of EnglishMs.
Shirley WaltersInstitute for Post-School Studies (IPSS)Professor Emerita
TersiaWarriesInstitute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)Ms.
SamanthaWaterhouseWomen and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar InstituteMs.
Michael WesselsDepartment of EnglishAssociate Professor
HildaWilsonInternational Relations OfficeMs.
LeslieWitzDepartment of HistoryProfessor
WendyWoodwardDepartment of EnglishProfessor Emerita
ChristinaZarowskySchool of Public HealthExtraordinary Professor

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Beyond coercive politics? (further interim reflections on events at UWC)

Thursday 12 November 2015
Andries du Toit

Again I share these reflections on recent events at UWC with real awareness of their limitations.

 For one thing, events on campus have taken a turn for the worse since the Chair of Council’s illadvised public email of 10 November wrecked the fragile peace established by the agreement between the Rector and the FMF students. For many, the violent events that followed serves as final ‘proof’ that rational discourse with the striking students is impossible and that a forceful crackdown is the only option. For students, on the other hand, the experience of yesterday’s confrontations and arrests may well have deepened grievances and hardened resolve. As before, the situation is fluid and rapidly moving, and trying to stand back and make some sort of coherent sense of it seems almost impossible.

For another, there is the politics of voice and intervention. Very few people so far have publicly intervened in the ‘sense making process’ at UWC and these have hardly been representative of our campus community. I am aware that my ‘reflections’ of 1 November have provoked one public response, a detailed rebuttal by my friend and colleague Ben Cousins. Much as I am tempted to respond in detail, I don’t think it would be useful. I don’t think there is much profit in a game of what-the-Rector-should-have-done. More to the point, I don’t believe this is an appropriate moment for an epistolatory exchange between two middle-aged white male academics in a historically black University!

At the same time, I am also aware of many pressing questions. The last few days have raised with painful urgency the question of how members of staff should respond to the rapid polarisation of groupings on campus, how we can support the eventual aims of the FMF movement, and how to accommodate the legitimate and pressing bread-and-butter issues put on the table by our students. For my part I have been time and again struck by the intense ambivalence I have experienced as someone who is predisposed to ally myself with the aims of the mobilising students – but finding myself repeatedly unable to agree with their actions.

 One issue has been that while Fees Must Fall is indeed a broad national movement, we encounter its actions as they play out on this particular campus. And from early on, the issues in contention at UWC have not been primarily the demands of the students (with some of which we might agree, and others not); rather, what has in contention is the form of these politics - their political strategies, tactics, and (crucially) ethics.

The issues raised here have been deeply troubling, and make it much harder for me to adopt the rather idealising stance many of my colleagues have seemed to be advocating towards our 'student spring'.

The most obvious of these has related to the allegations and evidence of violent, destructive and intimidating behaviour. Now selective or essentialist readings won’t be much good here. Interpretations that dismiss violence as a distracting and irrelevant side issue in an essentially peaceful movement are as unhelpful as those that see the student as ‘a bunch of hooligans’ and seize on violence as the ‘real’ meaning of the movement. Rather, it seems to me that we are seeing a complex political practice with a wide and varied repertoire in which both violent and non-violent elements are salient. In the last few weeks we have seen central figures in the FMF movement display both great idealism and alarming immaturity, using the language both of peaceful protest and of explicit threats. I should point out that far from being confined to the words and actions of a fringe minority, the language of violence (e.g. ‘we will destroy this campus’ / ‘this campus will burn’) has also been part of the lexicon of prominent leaders and spokespeople in the movement.

Now I agree that the spectre of violence should not be used as an excuse to refuse negotiations or to discount the importance of the issues FMF has put on the table. But at the same time we can’t simply dismiss it. Simply saying in passing that of course violence ‘must be condemned’ without engaging explicitly and honestly with its implications both for the ‘movement’ and for ‘our’ support of it is pretty much to condone it. So is belittling or dismissing the very real experiences of humiliation, intimidation, and threats that have been experienced by our colleagues and by students.

Furthermore, the matter of violence and vandalism is only the 'hottest' and most easily-taken-out-of-context aspect of the broader problem raised by the often coercive and confrontational tenor of much of the politics that we have seen.

Doubtless many will disagree with me here. But I think that vital and valid as the issues the students have raised are, it cannot be denied that their central methods and tactics (disrupting classes, seeking to shut down the University, forcing fellow students to be removed from the University library, threatening to stop exams) are coercive in themselves. These tactics have involved impinging on the rights of other students and members of our campus, and have threatened to cause real harm to their futures. They have pitted students against students and have put the UWC FMF movement, at least since 26 October, on a collision course with the authorities. In my mind this is deeply problematic, and it is not something we should ignore or fail to question.

Three points may be helpful here.

(1) Firstly, I think we need to move beyond a politics of alignment – beyond symbolic ‘support’ and ‘condemnation’ – to a process of trying to understand. Why is it that so many students seem to need a language of coercion, of dominance and command, of ritual humiliation of authority figures, and of the public performance of violent acts to experience any sense of social agency on campus and in our society? Are these inclinations rooted in their everyday experience of the ‘slow violence’ of inequality and marginalization in present-day South Africa? Or in the ‘ordinary violences’ of crime and patriarchy? What are the responses that can contain, ameliorate and engage with these demands? What can be done to give our students a sense of agency and recognition, and can they find ways of claiming these in less extreme, less confrontational forms of action?

(2) Secondly, I think we need to come to a critical and constructive strategic evaluation of the tactics of the movement. What are the strengths and weaknesses of forms of mobilisation in which everyone (and therefore no-one) is a leader, in which mandates can be unilaterally revoked, in which there is deep distrust of formal political process and negotiation? How do we deal with a political practice in which the performance and invocation of the status of ‘outsider’ is such a powerful legitimising strategy, and in which the dance of ‘public’ and ‘hidden’ transcripts familiar to us old-timers is supplemented by the often incendiary and invisible realtime Greek chorus of internet commentary? And more to the point: how can the theatre of protest be turned into a genuine and concrete politics of change?

(3) Thirdly, as Ben Cousins’s final paragraphs remind us, what of the future? What, for example, of the need to think through the meaning of the idea of the University at UWC?

My take: Our University is a complex assemblage of communities. Even the big, ready-made categories ("students", "academics" "staff") are not homogenous entities. Rather, they are each a congeries of complex, internally disunited, diverse, dissimilar and fissive groupings each of which is entitled to respect. This goes even for those whom ‘we progressives’ (ah, the arrogance of that term!) might want to dismiss as 'conservative' or 'middle class' or what have you.

This is a crucial point to be borne in mind as we enter the process of debating transformation at our University. Such a process of transformation is likely to be complex, slow, difficult, and argumentative; if it is to be worth anything at all, it will be a process of changing minds (in my experience never easy, especially when the mind in need of changing belongs to onself!) Any such process can only happen if these disparate groupings are held in some kind of container of mutual respect (of each other and of process), and a commitment to tolerance. This puts the ethics of political process and difference right at the heart of transformation.

So I am deeply worried. I am worried about the ease with which we can slide into a politics of 'alignment' in which questions of ethics, respect, democracy and the rights of other members of this campus community are trivialised or ignored. I am also worried about the aftermath of such politics , their implications for the quality of our social relations on campus, and what they bode for critical and thoughtful debates on the future of our University. Rather than celebrating the current moment as the opportunity for ‘real change’ I fear that it is moving us over a threshold beyond which trust is plummeting, coherence is fragmenting, and unilateral acts of power are the order of the day.

Rather than turn a blind eye towards or refusing to engage with aspects of political practice which are unacceptable, I think we have moral duty to consider how we, as members of the UWC community and as educators can encourage students to broaden the political vocabulary of protest beyond the lexicons of confrontation, domination, coercion and political command that have so often surfaced on our campus in recent times.

At the very least urgent thought is needed by all who have a stake in the future of our institution as to what (if anything!)can be done in the next few days to try to bridge the widening gaps that are threatening to engulf our University.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Update from Rector 11/11/2015 - #2

Dear Campus Community

I herewith confirm what we have already communicated via social media, namely that exams are cancelled for the rest of the week. As previously communicated, all of the modules to be written during this week are also scheduled to be written in the week of 1 December 2015 and we will be communicating the detail of the exams again.

Today’s events were once again very unfortunate and sad.

Last week we took the decision to act very firmly in dealing with any disruptions of examinations, but the implementation of such a decision was heavily dependent on the required support from the Police,who is responsible for the enforcement of law and order.

We are led to believe that today’s actions were seemingly in response to correspondence from the Chair of Council indicating that the requested Special Council meeting, to deal with UWC’s funding of historic debt, is not feasible right now. I wish to categorically refute, as patently untrue, any claims that the current round of violence has been sparked by my reluctance to meet with the protesting students.

As communicated earlier today, there was ongoing mobilisation of students around the residences and, as part of the mobilisation,a section of the Ruth First residence was set alight. UWC’s fire and medical officer, Brandon Clark, responded to the fire-alarms set off by the fire and,upon his arrival at the residence, he was attacked and badly assaulted by the protestors and had to be rushed to hospital for medical attention. The Police arrested 5 students in connection with the assault. In addition, a female safety officer, Nicky Grobler, was assaulted and threatened at knife-point and a security officer was held hostage.

Around noon a group of protesting students entered the Main Hall and emptied fire distinguishers in the venue. Fortunately there were no exams taking place in the Main Hall at that time.  This was followed by widespread damage across campus with windows and doors broken in buildings, including the A and B block,Life Sciences, School of Public Health, Economic and Management Sciences and Social Sciences. The Police fired stun grenades and any reports of live ammunition being used by the Police, are not correct. We also have visual confirmation of students setting off large fire crackers to add to the confusion.

The students then retreated to the residences and continued with indiscriminate violence and attacking of security. They also started various fires between the residences and set fire to the Residence Life(ResLife) and the Residence Administration buildings.  The situation escalated and the Police then brought in reinforcements. Protesting students continued to provoke the Police, vandalised Kovacs Residence property, looted the Kovacs tuck shop and broke down large parts of the University fence. Initially the Police did not react to the provocation, however, late afternoon they started to arrest students. The Police were armed with stun grenades, teargas and rubber bullets and we have been informed that the Police were shot at with live ammunition.

The ferociousness of the attacks today and the disregard for the rights of others is absolutely shocking and is condemned in the strongest possible terms. We are horrified that the protestors could act in this way. In this crisis situation we have taken all the required decisions, but the full implementation thereof depends on the Police and the legal processes that follow.

Given the current context, we want to use the next two days to see if we can bring stability to the campus. In consultation with the deans and academic staff we are currently looking into various options to ensure that we are able to conclude the academic year.  We will communicate further details pertaining to exams tomorrow, Thursday afternoon. Whilst our desire is firmly focussed on trying to finalise the academic year, the events of today (Wednesday, 11 November 2015) serve as a caution not to endanger the lives of staff and students in pursuit of this intent.

The nature clearly indicate that this cannot be a UWC-specific problem, but it is in fact an issue of national concern since there are significant implications for the future of higher education in particular, and for our society in general.

As we, as a campus community, struggle to come to terms with what has happened and the manner in which it has unfolded,it is important for us to rally behind the shared commitment to investing in the future of our society through education.

Yours sincerely

Prof Tyrone Pretorius
Rector and Vice-Chancellor