Written by Asive Dlanjwa: As the ANC National Policy Conference (NPC) draws to an end, I’d hoped to pen this earlier but due to various commitments, I couldn’t, but ke I suppose our deliberations will extend beyond these 3 days.
I focus on just two issues facing us as a movement, which I find to be quite pertinent.
STAFF SALARIES (NON-PAYMENT OF STAFF)
It is difficult to begin any submission towards what should be considered policy changes, reviews and deliberations when in fact the foundation of what the liberation movement should be anchored in, which is dignity, fairness, basic human rights and justice are directly compromised by the non-payment of ANC staff. Therefore to corroborate our commitment as an organisation to improving the livelihoods of our people, let us firstly develop a policy which will, within the confines of the current political party funding regime ensure that its workers are paid fully and on time – consistent with a revolutionary movement!
This is critical, in fact, it’s a microcosm of the larger antagonistic contradictions that pose a direct threat to the attainment of a national democratic society which is distinguished in SHARED prosperity, social justice and human SOLIDARITY . And by the virtue of that premise, we must be concerned, because what is abundantly clear is that the non-payment of staff is seemingly by choice, and for the most part even deliberate, if hypothecated on the known capacity of the leaders of the ANC to pay those staff salaries!
Now if we are to entertain this conjecture, still appreciating the symbolism of the non-payment of staff to the larger national unemployment crisis, it would mean that, albeit having the capacity, we, in fact, deliberately do not want to create employment and to preserve and protect the rights and dignity of workers against their systematic oppression and exploitation by the ruling class.
Alternatively, we could argue, that maybe there’s no capacity for our organisation, through its leaders in the ruling party to solve the salaries crisis of its staff members at Luthuli House, meaning they don’t know what to do, they lack the ideas and the inspiration to solve this apparent crisis! Then the latter should definitely send seizures of terror through our entire anatomic configuration, and hopefully awaken us to the suggestion that, at a broader level, the level at which we exist to carry out the National Democratic Revolution, we lack the consequent capacity to respond to the national unemployment disaster in South Africa!
I would therefore propose that amongst a multiple proposals that’ll hopefully be explored by the Policy Conference to deal with the staff crisis, that if not already explored, we consider implementing mandatory deployee contributions that will directly pay the staff salaries at Luthuli House. From the President to all MPs.
CONSOLIDATION AND COORDINATION OF THE HIGHER EDUCATION SECTOR
Amongst some of the considerations for the PC must be the consolidation and coordination of the higher education sector to deliberately respond to the challenges we face as a country. We must from academic research and output, structural design in terms of enrolments and funding structure seek to devise a coherent system that supports our strategic objectives as a movement and as a country.
As per our Strategies and Tactics document, we have meticulously identified that “South Africa represents the most acute manifestation of most of the social fault-lines that define humanity’s current challenges: race, class, gender and geographic location. Income inequality and inequitable distribution of assets are at their most intense”.
We went further in the document to concede to the fact that “poverty and unparalleled opulence live cheek by jowl”.
We must therefore ask, what about the structure and the output of our Higher Education system seeks to respond to what we’ve described as ‘humanity’s current challenges’ in the context of South Africa’s current discourse of struggle.
Undoubtedly, there has been a significant increase and expansion of the Higher education sector, mainly spurred by the increase in student funding, which incontrovertibly edged us ever so closer to FREE EDUCATION. However this expansion in the sector accounts more for a quantitative upward mobility than content and character.
This has been demonstrated by the inability of the expansion to directly and proportionally inform economic growth and the social project. This incongruency is demonstrated by a worsened economy, worsened “manifestations and consequences of patriarchy – from the feminisation of poverty, physical and psychological abuse, undermining of self-confidence, to open and hidden forms of exclusion from positions of authority and power” as per the concessions of our Strategies and Tactics.
In fact, our NDP substantiates this conclusion, by alluding to the fact that “Expanding opportunities for higher education without a concomitant increase in employment opportunities can be hazardous.
High unemployment among educated youth can potentially lead to political upheaval and violence. Economic opportunities and jobs are therefore crucial. The demographic dividend can be realised only if gainful employment is created for the growing proportion of people of working age.”
Further, we must consider prospects to institutionalize and create a legislative framework to create and increase black academics, in particular PHDs, through a dedicated funding model that is includes but not limited to giving living stipends as means not only to incentivise but to support the livelihoods of PHD candidates.
This would be consistent with our the NDP targets of increasing qualified PHD staff in the sector from 34% to 75% by 2030, however we must through funding, multiple research incentives and legislation, guide the research output so as to ensure that our investment in these PHDs will reap direct dividends for our social and economic project through R&D and innovation.
You can’t invest R164 billion into potential Human Resources capital and hope that the investment pays off towards particular predetermined outcome without a focused and tailored plan to inform the nature and character of the dividends!
The reality is that majority of graduates, when they exit the system, they have little to no equipping to responding directly and immediately to the social and economic conditions the country faces.
Social – For example, our government declares GBV a pandemic and justifiably decries the outrageous levels of femicide, but has an education and training system that is not able to equip the millions that are brought through the system to respond to these challenges.
Economic – employers, both public and private, across a ranges of disciplines, all bemoan what they deem to be a skills mismatch! Meaning we are teaching and training at the cost of billions, but our outcomes are incongruent with the demands and needs of the economy!
We must at all material times, across all sectors, especially the education sector remember that after all, ours is to advance our struggle for total liberation through the National Democratic Revolution, which when we have triumphed, we will have ushered in a national democratic society, one we define in our strategies and tactics as, “a national democratic society should be founded on a thriving economy the structure of which should reflect the natural endowments of the country and the creativity that a skilled population can offer.
It should be an economy in which cutting edge technology, labour-absorbing industrial development, a thriving small business and co- operative sector, utilisation of information and communication technologies and efficient forms of production and management all combine to ensure national prosperity.”
When we assimilate the character of the national democratic society, we must begin to investigate the extent to which our higher education system is armed to bear the fruits thereof.
Now, I’m alive to what could be a counter argument, which would suggest that in fact, any attempts to tailor and guide the academic outcomes and outputs of institutions of higher learning would border on government overreach and erode the academic and institutional autonomy of our institutions of higher learning, and honestly, most probably to an extent there would be a perceived curtailing and a checks on what is currently an unchecked, directionless and discoordinated sector with divergent interests and pursuits!
The reality is that, government has an inherent responsibility to guide and coordinate, within constitutional parameters, the direction and the outputs of all its public institutions, academic and non-academic! Especially when the sector accounts for probably the biggest expenditure item on the national budget! It is with the same measure that the principles of monetary policy as it pertains to government spending, suggest that we must always seek to align to achieve whatever are our economic strategic objectives.
I write in my capacity as a member of the ANC.
****The views expressed here are not those of Central News ****
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