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Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 23:33:32 -0200
Message-Id: <199512182109.XAA02698@lin01.global.co.za>
Originator: anclist@wn.apc.org
Sender: anclist@wn.apc.org
From: "Ben Laauwen" <blaauwen@global.co.za>
To: Multiple recipients of list <anclist@wn.apc.org>
Subject: Re: ANC Press Statements Thurs 14 December

On the situation at Wits University

ANC Press Statements
Thurs 14 December 1995

> The reported walkout by Dr. Nthato Motlana and Aggrey Klaaste
> from the Wits University Council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the
> current crisis is a matter of serious concern to the ANC.
> The Council as a whole must come to terms with the seriousness
> of the situation and to embark upon steps as recommended by the
> Minister of Education, Prof. Sibusiso Bengu to remedy the situation
> as a matter of urgency.
> The ANC notes the principled stand adopted by Motlana and
> Klaaste. It is our belief, however, that all members should now take
> their rightful place in the Council to ensure that racist elements
> do not succeed in taking sway of the university.
> The walkout particularly by leading members of the Black commu-
> nity is a reflection of the characteristics of the problem in the
> university. It is this racist character that has made renowned
> scholars like Prof. Eskia Mphahlele and others to feel ostracised to
> a point of leaving the university.
> It is now time that the University must come to terms with and
> acknowledge racial tensions that continue to underpin problems and
> have led to further racial polarisation at Wits University. At the
> core of these tensions lies the fundamental question of
> transformation of the institution.
> The ANC condemns all forms of racial intolerance and resistance
> to the transformation process and calls for:
> * immediate lifting of the suspension on Prof. Makgoba
> * a mediation process to address the current allegation against
> Makgoba and the 13 other academics.
> * immediate and speedy movement towards transformation
> Issued by Cyril Ramaphosa
> ANC Secretary-General
> 14 December 1995

As a card carrying member of the ANC, I would like to call for a more moderate approach to the current situation in Wits. I certainly object to explain the situation from the basis of inherent racism and obstructions to reform.

Not knowing the intimate details other than from the various press reports, I suggest that the way the conflict has developped shows all the characteristics of a clash of personalities (of an academic nature or purely human remains to be seen) or positions of power. The way the batttle field of the conflict has been transferred to the press and handed to the general public for judgment, I judge as immature and puerile, certainly for academics of some repute.

That the players are in racial camps could be purely coincidental. The more conservative (against drastic reforms) are the ones with the longer service record. That happens to make them white, as this was the case in those days. Maybe some of them have personal power play at heart. But many could have a serious concern about maintaining academic standards in mind.

If the ANC is serious about equal opportunities, it should try to reflect this in its statement and not follow the hysterics in the press and call all participants in the conflict racists. If it were a racial conflict then Motlana and Klaaste are equally guilty of racism by walking out. If it is a racial conflict, than Minister Bengu should refer the conflict to the Constitutional Court without hesitation, get a verdict and prevent future problems in other Universities.


Ben P M Laauwen (CMC)
Ben Laauwen
PO BOX 13773, Sinoville 0129, RSA

Tel: +27 12 5480924 / +27 83 250 9169 (cell)
Fax: +27 12 5482018
Email: blaauwen@global.co.za

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