Politics

We Did It: Three Years of #FeesMustFall Finally Bears Fruit

This year's South African budget shows that struggle can make things better.

Yesterday, South African Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, presented the long-awaited 2018 budget speech. While he was heavily criticised for increasing VAT and the fuel levy, which will heavily impact the poor, students celebrated the R57 billion that will finally be set aside to fund their studies in their entirety.

It was 2015 and I was at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, along with thousands of students from all over the country, waiting to be addressed by former President Jacob Zuma about our demands for a 0% increase in fees for the following year. We were capable students, worthy of being at universities but we were also black and lacking the money to access institutions which were fast becoming financially exclusive. While our core demand was eventually met, we knew it wasn't a complete victory—what about the fees for the following year and the year after that? I still remember how days after that epic march, my ears were still ringing with the phantom sounds of struggle songs and the whizzing of rubber bullets. I don't know if South Africa or the world will ever truly know how that fight scarred so many of us.

In the years that followed, we watched as the government (which claimed it had no money to allocate to tertiary education) squander state resources time and time again. We protested relentlessly; fiercely. We were shot at by police, our campuses looked like war-zones and we wondered whether we would attain the degrees upon which our families hopes rested so heavily.

After Jacob Zuma's resignation a few days ago, I wrote about how the ANC would embark on a journey of some serious ass-kissing in the run-up to the general elections in 2019. I warned Fees Must Fall activists that if ever there were a more opportune time to act, that it was most certainly now. R57 billion rand has been allocated for the funding of tertiary education for students whose household incomes are less than or equal to R350 000 per annum. This will assist not only the poor black working class but the black "missing middle" as well. The entire duration of their degrees will be funded with the added promise of supporting students in terms of food, transport and accommodation costs, all key to making this announcement a full victory and not just a partial one.

Now does this magically solve all our problems as black students? Does it do away with the rampant inequality prevalent on all our university campuses? No, it does not. But what it is, is a step in a very hopeful direction. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this R57 billion will actually serve its purpose and not be misappropriated like so many of our state funds in the past. However, our acting President Cyril Ramaphosa, is looking to make a big splash. He's looking to garner not only our support but our lasting support, so it would stand him in good stead if he ensures his government keeps their word. He has seen (or at least read about) the destruction, the chaos, the physical and psychological damage to our young members of society following numerous Fees Must Fall protests and clashes with the police.

I will never forget that day at the Union Buildings when the police started throwing stun grenades at us and unleashing a barrage of bullets. I will never forget how a young male student stumbled towards my friend and I, his face completely drenched in blood. I will never forget how my friend and I ran out of sheer, naked fear, blindly into the busy streets of the Pretoria CBD and eventually hid ourselves behind a nearby bus stop. I was not as active on the frontlines as so many other students were, not in the least, so I can only begin to imagine the kind of trauma they still have to wrestle with till this day.

The #NationalShutDown in Cape Town on Wednesday, October 21 2015. Photo by Imraan Christian

That is why this announcement, as much as it was a string of words on a piece of paper for a lot of people, meant so much more to the rest of us. It's a sigh of relief for many black students. It means a glimmer of hope for so many black families. It's a chance to dream and to do so without inhibition. This is all we've been fighting for and it feels so damn good to allow ourselves, even for just a moment, to bask in the light that seemed so elusive back then.

Our fallen comrade Solomon Mahlangu, the young man we sang about in our struggle songs, once said that his blood would nourish the tree that would bear the fruits of freedom. He told us to continue the fight. And so to all my comrades, amandla!

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Zuma’s Dramatic Exit: Let the Ass-Kissing Begin

For all South Africans struggling to be heard, the time is now.

Jacob Zuma is no longer President of South Africa. His resignation comes after years of corruption and generally poor leadership. While many South Africans welcomed his resignation and even rejoiced, we need to truly realise the magnitude of this moment and where it leaves us.

While finishing schoolwork last night, I listened to Zuma's address. It was, for the most part, hilarious particularly Zuma's 'innocent' insistence that he had done nothing wrong and thus failed to understand why the public and more especially his party wanted him to leave. You know that lie you tell others but somehow eventually start believing and ardently defending yourself? Yeah, that was Zuma's address in a nutshell. He resigned soon after.

The moment was crucial for one particular reason: It showed how the collective efforts of civil society, the media and even the opposition (just this once I'm sure) came together to eventually say “enough." But where does this leave us, the South African people?

We're, in fact, in an advantageous position and no, I'm not just talking about how the Rand has strengthened—although that's great for us as well. I'm talking about how external pressures forced the ANC's hand. Neither they nor Zuma himself wanted him to go. However, because the ANC has been divided for so long, they can no longer afford to lose the confidence of South Africans. In short, the ANC has been forced into a corner where every move they now make is critical if they want to win the national elections in 2019. This makes them vulnerable—something that is great for us (yay!). See, politicians never do what they swear to do when they take office. But, back them into an impossible corner and suddenly they're more than willing to make good on their promises. In fact, they're more than willing to kiss our ass if we prod them hard enough.

Right now, South Africans need to prod and prod damn hard. Zuma's exit is a victory, but we shouldn't allow it to end here. We'd be the biggest fools if we did. To all our #FeesMustFall activists, now is the time to begin building momentum for what could be the most promising protests we've had thus far. We may have been carelessly tossed about each year and endured countless announcements about free education becoming a reality only to discover they were merely political ploys but what better time than now to raise our voices yet again? To all the activists fighting for #LifeEsidimeni to be recognised as the tragedy it was, what better time than now? To those still fighting for both the deceased and remaining miners whom the Marikana tragedy claimed, now is the time to fight even more.

In essence, if anyone is supposed to capitalise on Zuma's exit and the ANC's vulnerability, it sure as hell should be us as the South African public. For a long time, we have not had the leverage to engage meaningfully with the government regarding what is constitutionally ours anyway. And now, we don't have to have any leverage because the ANC, and any other party for that matter, is likely to be looking for ways to kiss our ass in order to ensure our votes at the ballot box count in their favour. I don't know about you, but I like that dynamic. It will be quite refreshing really to not have to grovel for our basic human rights even if it is only until the final votes have been tallied.

There has never been a greater time to seize the opportunity than now! And so to all my South Africans, our message to the ANC and the government in general is (or at least should be) unequivocally simple: you can kiss our liberated ass.

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via Tonl

How I Found Empowerment in Unspeakably Horrible Sex

Society expects women to be non-interfering bystanders during sex. I refuse to be quiet.

Picture this: I have just spent over an hour in the shower eliminating every hair on my body. Despite the many nicks caused by my Schick blade and the mild Veet burns, I forge on in my quest for silky smooth skin. Moments later I am out of the shower and rummaging through my cupboard for my "sexy" underwear—no granny panties tonight. I lotion up and generously spray myself with my favourite perfume. I slip into a cute little dress I know will be equally easy to slip out of.

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