The Commander In Chief of the EFF, Julius Malema has mentioned that he is going to argue at the National People’s Assembly that the EFF Students Command (EFFSC) is not needed (at least for now), precisely because he believes there is nothing that they can do on their own, be it running SRC elections, establishing branches, or recruiting. He also added that the advice to form the Students Command was an ‘ill-advice’, as the mother body itself is still in its formative stages. It is from these two points that I seek to put across my views as it pertains to the sine qua non of a Students Command (SC).
Ideally, the SC is a setting for learning and practicing communication skills. It is also a place for developing a number of other competencies. Moreover, the SC is an important part of a political party as it acts as the main mobiliser for young people. The SC is also there to attract other young members to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy that political parties are full of ‘old’ people. Now we know that the rise of student politics at university level, and the confidence of a number of young voters for the EFF was inspired by the victories of the EFFSC in universities, colleges, and TVETS etc. through sending messages of hope to students and having programmes seeking to assist students facing financial exclusion, academic exclusion, and even violence on campus. Moreover, the EFF SC has even managed to expose and capitalize on the mistakes of SASCO for example. If a structure such as the EFFSC is disbanded, you are saying that an African child in institutions of higher learning should struggle further.
With regards to support and resources, the argument is that the SC relies on the Mother Body on almost if not everything. One can disagree with this view and say that the EFFSC has to be given the necessary support and resources because the vast majority of resources are unlikely to be funded, particularly in a society like ours with the high levels of inequality. Such support will help with recruitment and make it a more effective model of mobilisation.
One of the points that was once also made was that the EFFSC ought to be ‘an organization that serves as a think tank for South African politics’. Firstly, we ought to keep in mind that everything must to come back to achieving economic emancipation. Economic freedom is a weapon of war. It is a time redemption strategy. In other words, the battle for economic freedom is a battle for time redemption. If you don’t have time you’ll always be subjected to these ungodly systems which seek to keep exploiting the majority of our people. The rich will always rule over the poor and the borrower will always be servant to the lender. And so the question is, beyond sloganeering, winning SRC elections and ‘helping students in January’, (although NB) has the EFFSC served as a think-tank and what practical solutions have they come up with that address the problems we are facing as a nation?
The EFFSC has to be at the forefront of the intellectual leadership of our struggle. In the 70s, it is said that the manifestos for example, were written by white NUSAS students, whilst the Black students were comfortable with singing and toi-toi’ng. All this to say that we should not just be known for how well we sing but also be known for how well we think and generate original ideas.
My take is that the view of the CIC should be restructured. The discussion should be on how we beef up the SC and how we elect the type of leaders that should lead such a structure. Not only does the SC introduce young members to the ideology of the party, it also functions as a kind of learning school. And so given these considerations, one can hypothesize that the demise of the SC might not be in the best interest of the organization on that level. But whether the EFFSC has been that think-tank for South African politics including for the EFF in these few past years, I’m not convinced.