How campus chaos could serve factions, figures — and sanity
Protesters’ deliberate collapsing of negotiations may be influenced by more immediate political calculations, writes Anthony Butler
The demands for free education and institutional decolonisation that started in South African universities in 2015 reflected the alienation and economic stresses endured by many students. This year, however, the many concessions made by ministers and university managers have done nothing to mollify a new generation of activist leaders. These protesters’ ever-moving goalposts, and their deliberate collapsing of negotiations, may be influenced by more immediate political calculations. The EFF seems to be one prominent actor. Although it superficially resembles a political party, the EFF remains a regional and ethnic "external faction" of the ANC. In the 2014 national and provincial elections, it secured just 2%-3% of the vote in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. But won more than 10% in Gauteng, Limpopo and North West. In 2016, it added only two percentage points to its overall vote share, suggesting it has hit its electoral ceiling below 10%. Its leaders may now seek ...