Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema ignored a Unisa management decision to cancel his talk at the campus on land distribution. He addressed students outside the hall instead.
“It was an irresponsible act by management to cancel after we had been granted permission. We came here and defied them,” Malema said outside the university’s Theo van Wyk building in Pretoria today.
He said the cancellation was because of threats by members of the SA Students’ Congress to interrupt proceedings. Members of both organisations insulted each other and a scuffle resulted in Sasco members being injured.
Malema encouraged his supporters to “protect meetings”.
“You must manhandle them if there is a need. Never behave like cowards. Protect meetings, do whatever it takes to ensure (the) meeting goes ahead,” he said using a loud-hailer.
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) Unisa chairperson Ntsako Nombelani accused the EFF of provoking members of Nehawu and Sasco.
He said he did not understand how the meeting had gone ahead following communication with the institution’s management about the cancellation.
“We were told yesterday (Wednesday) that the event was cancelled because the people who invited them no longer met the bargaining threshold,” he said.
Nombelani said they would be laying charges against the EFF.
Unisa SRC president Brian Mphahlele accused Malema of destabilising learning and not having the best interests of students at heart.
Sasco’s Unisa chairperson Solly Nkuna said earlier only registered students would be allowed into the ZK Matthews Hall, where Malema had been expected to speak.
“We have vowed to disrupt any talk given by Malema,” said Nkuna.
“We took a position that non-students are not going to enter or participate. We will destabilise everything until such a point that students are the only ones left inside (the hall).”
He accused university management of turning Unisa into a platform for unhappy former ANC members.
Malema, the ANC Youth League’s former leader, was expelled from the party last year.
“We realise that Unisa, instead of being an institute of learning, is becoming a platform for those expelled from the ANC,” Nkuna said.
Nkuna said Sasco had a duty to protect the “rainbow nation” and would not support an organisation that wanted to forcefully grab land.
“The issue must be addressed accordingly. We can’t allow our country to become like Zimbabwe,” he said.
“We won’t support Malema as he talks about grabbing land from the whites.”
EFF supporters sang: “One Zuma, one idiot,” while holding their hands above their heads to represent a showerhead.
“Malema is coming” and “Julius sent us because we are not afraid”, they sang.
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