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ANC Youth League President`s Address to Students at the University of Limpopo

6 October 2010

The ANC Youth League sends its greetings to the students and workers of the University of Limpopo-MEDUNSA Campus, which is historically one of the most outstanding institution with regards to the development and production of healthcare workers, particularly African Doctors.

The ANC Youth League is here to speak to the University community with a clear intention to make sure that the massive contributions made by this Medical University are not undermined by anything.

We are very much aware that like in many other institutions of higher learning, students in this campus encounter so many challenges, which should be urgently addressed because the contribution of Medical and healthcare workers in South Africa now and in the future should never be compromised.

We are aware that your challenges as students include, but not limited to the following realities:

  • NSFAS Allocations which do not seem to meet the demands of students-our call in that regard is that NSFAS should pay for all the needs of students, including registration fee, tuition fees, accommodation, food and a monthly stipend to help students with other necessities outside these key essentials.
  • Residences of this Medical School are not up to standard and such should be immediately addressed, because you cannot train good doctors in a place which is not conducive and welcoming for progress and success of future Doctors, who will later in life carry the responsibility to save lives.
  • The Security of students and infrastructure in this University should forever be guaranteed. We are aware that criminals have in the past 3 years bombed the ATM in this campus, endangering the lives of students in this University.

Now these are challenges that should be resolved as urgent as possible, yet the biggest problem facing this Medical School is the fact that the Merger with the University of Limpopo was a failure and should be reversed, and MEDUNSA given all the necessary support it deserves to sustainably operate on its own.

The initial objective of taking a Medical School to Limpopo was a noble one, but the strategy to try and close this medical school was entirely problematic, and should be opposed by all progressive forces that understand the vitality and importance of producing an adequate number of healthcare workers in South Africa.

MEDUNSA is one of the very few successful medical schools, not only in South Africa, but in the entire sub-Saharan Africa, and has been in the forefront of producing black and particularly African Medical Doctors and other healthcare professionals that are helping our poor communities across the continent.

The other Medical Schools have their own roles to play, yet the Doctors they produce largely migrate to overseas hospitals and refuse to work in townships and rural areas.

MEDUNSA, which is a medical school located in a township, Garankuwa and linked to a township hospital, Dr. George Mukhari Hospital is strategically and correctly located within the people to train Medical Doctors and healthcare professionals who understand our people better.

MEDUNSA should therefore be saved and properly funded in order to position it at the most outstanding Medical School in the entire African continent. Government heavily invest in this Medical School and request the services of better administrators to take the institution forward.

We have to say that those who were given the responsibility to run and administer the merger of former Turfloop University and MEDUNSA have dismally failed, and government should take part of the blame because nothing was done even when Institutional Management and Council of the University of Limpopo are failing to normalise and standardise even the most basic of institutional management mechanism.

The fact that more than five years after the merger, there is still no common Students` Representative Council and systems is evidence that the University Management is very inefficient.

Students` representation is not a side issue in the management of institutions of higher learning, but an important component which should never be reduced to an irritation by Management.

The history of higher education transformation in South Africa is filled with so many progressive contributions by the progressive students` movement, and weakening their involvement will never be tolerated.

Five years after the merger, there still no harmonisation of registration, tuition and residence fees between Turfloop University and MEDUNSA.

It is very clear now that the only thing that MEDUNSA and Turfloop University have in common is the name University of Limpopo, but the real integration has not happened.

Instead, the intended merger has negatively impacted on the productivity levels of the Medical School because fewer students are enrolled in the critical courses than it used to be before the merger. There are also fewer lecturers and professors than there were before the merger.

We have to critically and honestly raise all these issues because if we don`t, we will only complain when the institution has been run down by inefficient Institutional managers.

The Department of Higher Education should never allow institutions of Higher Learning to degenerate to the extent that defined the former Mangosuthu Tecknikon, which basically refused to merge into Durban University of Technology and got run down to almost nothing.

Department of Higher Education should within its scope of interventions, provide the necessary strategic leadership and guidance to institutions of Higher Learning, because these are vital for the developmental agenda that we are all pursuing.

Here in MEDUNSA, the intervention should include but not limited to having this Medical School as an independent institution which is properly funded so that the ANC government is able to provide the necessary number of Doctors required for the roll out of the National Health Insurance (NHI).

South Africa is facing massive health challenges, in particular the crisis levels of HIV/AIDS infections. We need to busy all political differences and join hands in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In the ANC Youth League, we always and will forever emphasise that the fight against HIV/AIDS includes a campaign against multi-sexual relationships-One Boyfriend-One Girlfriend Campaign, which should be intensified.

It can never be fashionable for us to have multi-sexual relationships in a country where more than 5 million people are estimated to be HIV positive particularly young people.

All of us gathared here today should lead by example.

MEDUNSA students should also join the ANC Youth League in the Campaign for healthy lifestyles amongst the youth-which includes the provision of Free Sanitary Towels to females and campaign against the abuse of alcohol, substance and drug abuse.

Our 23rd National Congress in 2008 mandated us to lobby government to ban alcohol advertisements and begin to strictly enforce all the alcohol regulation laws. The Laws that exist on alcohol regulation are not implemented by anyone because people continue to sell alcohol illegally to people under the age of 18 and no one is ever arrested for doing that.

We need to reduce the amount of alcohol available for consumption in our communities, particularly in townships, because it leads to so many social ills, including high levels of crime, unplanned juvenile pregnancies, sickness, car accidents and high failure rates in schools and Universities.

If alcohol is this costly to the nation, why is it advertised all across the media and children easily seduced to drink alcohol through introduction of so many brands of alcohol clearly targeted on younger people.

We need to be consistent on alcohol regulation like we were on the banning of cigarettes advertisements.

Now these are some of the key and central social transformation aspects that we carry a responsibility to address as urgent as possible.

Addressing social transformation issues should however not divert us from dealing with the major economic transformation issues, particularly the realisation of Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime.

Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime means realisation of all Freedom Charter objectives and the immediate focus is consistent with the Charter, NATIONALISATION OF MINES.

Mines in South Africa will be nationalised and the manner in which the ANC-led government will do it will not be disastrous because the ANC has matured into an experienced governing party and can effectively provide strategic leadership to nationalised Mines.

The model on Nationalisation of Mines will be fine-tuned by the ANC Policy Conference and finally adopted by the ANC National Conference in 2012.

We have on many occasions said why Mines should be nationalised in South Africa and are forever patient to explain why Mines should be nationalised.

Benefits of success have already been heighted above, in the response of what is the purpose for nationalisation and to build on that, below we list some of the additional benefits:

  • Increased budget for the State and therefore more resources for education, housing, healthcare, infrastructure development, safety and security and sustainable livelihoods for our people.
  • More jobs for our people because State owned and controlled Mines will increase local beneficiation and industrialisation of Mineral resources. This will in turn reduce the high levels of poverty, which is consequent of joblessness.
  • More equitable spatial development because State owned and controlled Mines will invest in areas where Mining is happening.
  • Better salaries and working conditions in Mines because State owned Mines will increase the Mining wage and improve compliance to occupational health and safety standards.
  • Greater levels of economic and political independece as the State will be in control and ownership of strategic sectors of the economy, which produces minerals resources needed across the world.

As students, you must give yourselves time to study the following examples of Nationalisation in other countries and you will all of you realise that the lies spread by the media that nationalisation has never succeeded in not true.

You must study about a company called Petroleum de Venezuela (PDVSA), which is the State Owned Oil company in Venezuela. In Venezuela, the nationalised oil company, Petroleum de Venezuela (PDVSA) accounts for 32% of GDP, 50% of government revenue and 80% of export revenues. The revenue generated is utilised to fund social development programmes, particularly the provision of free quality education for all. Between 2004 and 2010 PDVSA contributed $61.4 billion to social development funds.

You must also study about a company called CODELCO in Chile. In Chile, between 1991 and 2003, ten largest foreign companies paid $164m a year; but state-owned CODELCO paid $764m a year - almost five times more. CODELCO is directly run by the State with a representative Board chaired by the Minister of Mining and includes the Minister of Finance, Workers Representatives, Supervisors Representatives and other experts in Copper Mining.

As students you should study these corporations so that you are able to clarify the Chamber of Mines when it goes around saying Nationalisation of Mines has never succeeded anywhere in the world.

As ANC Youth League, we always expect maximum discipline from students across all Universities. We expect you to be in class on time, doing your work excellently.

Student leadership should not lead you to strike even for things that are not essential for your academic progress.

You must never agree to strike for bashes and more alcohol in bashes.

But you must militantly defend your right to exist in this University and Management has no right to threaten you with exclusions. You must fight with determination and discipline and never allow to be intimidated.We shall over come, Victory is certain.