Tuesday, 20 March 2018

UCT CONVOCATION ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: December 2016


UCT CONVOCATION ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: December 2016

Tim Crowe

There were several other items on the agenda of this AGM (normally attended by far fewer than 100 people).  But, the major ones were motions by me and Ms Gwen Ngwenya, former UCT Students Representative Council president, COO of the South African Institute of Race Relations and current Member of Parliament. 

The goal of these motions was to require the UCT Executive to consult alumni and other members of the Convocation vis-à-vis their views on the Executive ‘negotiating‘ and deal-making with law-breaking Fallists who employ intimidation, destruction and violence to ‘achieve their demands’.
These motions were further (of many) attempts to ascertain – democratically via polls/referenda - precisely what the views of the UCT Community as a whole are (by ‘race’, age, gender, employment status, etc.) on what’s happening (and will happen) at UCT vis-à-vis a broad range of critical issues. Time and again, VC Price has refused to conduct such surveys and has ignored/dismissed the results of a range of polls and petitions, conducted to date, all of which challenge his co-leaders’ actions/inactions.
Soon after opening, this meeting, attended by >400 members of the Convocation, was hijacked by about a dozen placard-carrying invaders (who occupied the podium) and others who infiltrated its audience.  The invaders were aggressive, disruptive, profane and highly disrespectful Fallists most of (all?) whom were ineligible to attend a meeting of the UCT Convocation.

Despite the writing on their placards [including the misspelled: “No student should be excluded (sic) as a result of historical debt”], they were not protesters attempting to promote any of the Fallist movements.  Their words and actions demonstrated their intentions unequivocally.

The first 14 minutes of this meeting were recorded on video. The notation below is in minutes and seconds. MY COMMENTS ARE IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

00 36: One of the invaders (NO ONE HAS ESTABLISHED THAT THE INVADERS/INFILTRATORS WERE BONA FIDE STUDENT PROTESTERS, REPRESENTATIVES OF ANY SPECIFIC FALLIST MOVEMENT OR THAT THEY WERE LEGITIMATE CONVOCATION PARTICIPANTS) at the front of the hall surrounding the podium (WHO LOOKED TO BE CLOSER TO 30 THAN 20 YEARS OLD) seized the microphone from Convocation President and meeting chairperson Prof. Barney Pityana. Pityana and Convocation Secretary and UCT Registrar Mr Royston Pillay stood by and did nothing.  NEITHER THEY, NOR VC DR PRICE SHOW ANY SIGNS OF SURPRISE OR OFFENCE.

00 53: The ‘micro-phoned’ invader shouted: “There will be no vote of no confidence in Max Price!”

01 06: He further shouts: “This is a right-wing attack!”

01 39: VC Dr Price gestures to a red-shirted invader with a cap and engages with him.

01 48: One womxn invader at centre stage [her name is Khanyisa Ntombi], by then, had stripped naked to the waist.

02 07: The abovementioned aged invader shouted again: “There will be no vote of no confidence against Max Price!”

02 12: He repeated: “There will be no vote of no confidence against Max Price!” DOES THIS NOT CONFIRM THE REAL PURPOSE OF THE INVASION?

02 20: Price gestures to another invader (black-shirted wearing a tan baseball cap) and engages with him.  Pillay stood placidly with hands on hips;  Pityana with his hands crossed.

02 30: ‘Miked’ invader shouted again: “This is an assault on black people.” CONFIRMING THE RACIALIST MOTIVATION OF THE INVADERS.

03 08: Dr Lydia Cairncross (a Clinical Director at Groote Schuur) engaged with a bearded invader holding a placard saying “FREE EDUCATION”.

03 20: Ms Dianna Yach (UCT Council member and Chair of the UCT Alumni Advisory Board) engaged with Pityana.

04 12: Finally, Pitanya spoke out: “May we please have order.”

04 33: Cairncross continued to engage with the bearded invader.

05 02: Pityana – ‘We are only to speak unless directed to do so.”

05 13: Pityana – “There’s been a disruption by the students who will conduct a silent protest.” SO, HE HAD ALREADY DECIDED TO ALLOW THE INVADERS TO REMAIN.

05 36: When someone from the audience (sounds like an old man) objected to the invasion, two ‘black’ womxn’ women in audience heckled him, one shouting “Get the fuck out!”

06 15: Cairncross asked Pityana for permission to speak.  She said: “Every time I try to speak, someone stops me.”  “There is nothing different between the heckling from the audience (WHICH SHE IMPLIED WAS POPULATED ONLY BY LEGITIMATE ATTENDEES) and the student protest” which she described as “silent” and “not disruptive to this meeting”.  FIRST, HOW DID SHE KNOW THAT THE “PROTESTERS” WERE STUDENTS.  SECOND, THEY WERE ANYTHING BUT SILENT AND THEIR ACTIONS (CALLS FOR PREVENTION OF A MOTION AND PROFANITY/NUDITY) WERE NOT LEGITIMATE PROTEST.  MOREOVER, THE “AUDIENCE” WAS INFILTRATED BY INELIGIBLE FALLISTS (AT LEAST SIMON RAKEI AND CLEMENCY-VIOLATOR CHUMANI MAXWELE) AND OTHER PRO-FALLISTS.  She states: “You’re unable to listen to people with a different view.”  SEE NOTE AT 05 36 VIS-À-VIS INVADERS’ POSITION.

She called for a “reasonable and democratic discussion of the issues” with the “silent protesters remaining”.  Met with applause by the vast majority of people present. 

08 28: Price engaged with Cairncross.

08 34: Pityana supported Cairncross.

08 43: Cairncross engaged with nude womxn invader holding sign “UCT EXCLUDES POOR AND DISABLED BLACK STUDENTS SINCE 1829”.

08 50: When a Convocation member made a motion for a vote on the proposal to let the invaders remain, he was heckled, but supported by Pityana.

09 17:  Illegally attending student Simon Rakei shouted: “Whatever the outcome of the vote, the protest will continue.”  SO MUCH FOR CAIRNCROSS’ DEMOCRACY.  ‘Silent’ invaders surrounding the podium shout loudly, supporting Rakei and oppose a vote.  SO MUCH MORE FOR CAIRNCROSS’ “SILENT PROTEST” AND “DEMOCRACY”.

10 10: Pityana says that there must be a vote: “it’s only fair.”
‘Black’ womxn invader, with long, black, braided, waist-length hair and wearing a white blouse and carrying a placard saying: “DEMILITARIZE OUR CAMPUSES” shouted out “NO!”  Joined in chorus by other invaders at podium.  MORE “SILENCE” AND “DEMOCRACY”?

10 25: Topless invader shouted: “I’m not going anywhere.” SO MUCH FOR: DEMOCRACY AND SILENT, NON-DISRUPTIVE PROTEST.

10 55: The white-bloused-long-braided-haired womxn invader less than three meters from Dianna Yach shouted: “Shut the F**k up you white man.” to an old man in the audience; followed by repeated “F**k you” and “Shut the F**k up”.  “I’m not talking to you.”  “Tell him [the Convocation member] to “leave”.  Sitting nearby, Yach does/says nothing. Pityana stood next to the profane invader and did nothing.

11 35: Dr Karen Daniels (Chairperson of the Cape Town Chapter of the University of Cape Town Alumni Association) spoke. Despite this profanity and non-democratic behaviour, she supported the presence of the ‘silent’ protesters. HER WORDS WERE MET WITH DERISION FROM THE INVADERS.

12 15: Nude invader shouted: “This place is full of bloody white men afraid of black breasts.”

12 30: Yach engaged with invaders.

13 09: Member of Convocation asks: “Can we establish whether the protesters are graduate students of members of staff.  If not, they have no right to be present”.  This was met with derisive shouting by ‘silent’ invaders/infiltrators.

13 36: Adv Geoff Budlender proposed a motion that the ‘silent’ protesters be allowed to remain while the meeting proceeds.  This was supported by applause.

13 59 Pityana allowed the meeting to continue, with silent protest and smilingly engages with nude invader.

The balance of the proceedings were recorded, variously, by Nathan Geffen (editor of GroundUp cyber journal), myself, UCT Dean Suellen Shay, Martin Plaut, Ms Dianna Yach, Gwen Ngwenya, Prof. Ed Rybicki, and Ms Lorna Houston (now President of the UCT Convocation and the key alumni ‘player’ in its Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission Steering Committee - IRTC SC - set up as a consequence of the highly controversial November 2016 Agreement between the UCT Executive and radical Fallists).
Geffen – His account (plus some appended “letters” to the editor) is largely factual, but not a comprehensive account of the proceedings.  I compliment and complement it with bits and pieces from my account.

Geffen describes the meeting as ‘chaotic’, but errs in describing the ‘videoed’ portion of the meeting as being characterized by “minor quibbles”, and by supporting Budlender’s “critique” of my motion as a call for Price to be removed from office.  He mentions Pityana’s and Price’s presentations, but not the fact that they were heckled and interfered with by ‘silent’ invaders/infiltrators.

He made no note of the fact that, when President Pityana announced that Mr Hugh Amoore, the retired Registrar of UCT, was to receive the President’s Convocation Award for 2016, it was met by loud booing by ‘silent’ invaders and audience infiltrators.
Geffen also underplayed events surrounding my attempt to explain my motion, which he summarized as follows: “the meeting became increasingly unpleasant”.  In fact, I was incessantly heckled by ‘silent’ invaders and interrupted and jeered persistently by infiltrators.  More specifically, I was labelled variously: “racist” and “Jim Crow”, “apartheid activist” and “killer of black people” by the female infiltrator(?) in the audience who, at 05 36 of the video, shouted “Get the fuck out!” at a member of the Convocation.
When (as required) the seconder of my motion (Dr Anna Crowe) attempted to add her perspective on my motion, she was also harassed repeatedly using words such as “bitch”.
Adv Budlender followed, opposing my motion because he erroneously maintained that it called for the removal of Price et al. He was similarly harassed by clemency-violating Maxwele (who again referred to me a “known racist”) – but not vilified. Furthermore, Budlender praised (as did Dr Cairncross later) the abovementioned November Agreement as a significant achievement.
When academic Cathy Powell from the Law Faculty attempted to speak about the failure of the executive to consult staff during negotiations with the protesters, she was mocked openly, with mimed clown-tears and cat-calling, and shouted down by ‘silent’ invaders/infiltrators with: “Shut up you bitch”.
THE FALLISTS FONDNESS FOR THE WORD “BITCH” IS REMINISCENT OF THE THUGS WHO SUPPORTED EX-NO. 1 JACOB ZUMA DURING HIS RAPE TRIAL AND SHOWS THE SEXIST FOUNDATIONS OF THEIR ‘MOVEMENTS’ (AND, PARDON THE PUN, I USE THAT TERM ‘LOOSELY’).
Next, when Ngwenya attempted to speak on her motion, she was continuously interrupted by Maxwele. Eventually, she managed to point out that her ‘lack of confidence’ was in the November Agreement reached  by Price et al. with law-breaking ‘protesters’ on the eve of exams.  She, like me, had no intention to question the competence of individual members of the executive. She argued: “You can’t negotiate for non-violence; it’s a constitutional given.”
Cairncross then also spoke against the motions of no-confidence, arguing that the abovementioned IRTC-SCwas in the entire university’s best interests”. I WILL COMMENT ON THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE IRTC-SC ELSEWHERE.
Following some argument on points of procedure, Pityana asked if there were any proposed amendments to the no-confidence motion. Gao Nodoba from the Faculty of Commerce said that he agreed there should be a no-confidence motion in Price and the Executive, but for very different reasons to those given by me. Like many speakers at the University Assembly held in a jam-packed Jameson Hall in March 2015, he accused the UCT Executive of being uncaring and unresponsive, and not supporting transformation and the student demands until they were forced to. He accused the Executive of carrying out “indecisive, visionless fixes” and “inconsistently applying institutional rules”. He proposed an amended motion of no-confidence along those lines which was roundly welcomed by loud applause, even from the invaders/infiltrators.
Much interjection and shouting followed this. Eventually Law Professor Hugh Corder (later acting DVC) moved that the debate be closed and voting proceed. This was voted on 102 versus 15 (many didn’t vote and many more had left by then). The invaders, infiltrators and Nodoba objected vehemently and wanted to know why his motion hadn’t been voted on or debated further. But, Pityana, ‘decided’ that the meeting had become increasingly unmanageable and there were not enough people left to have a meaningful vote on anything, closed the meeting.
As we left the building, I heard a young person exhort “There will be no UCT in 2017!” Her fellow crowd members supported in glee. SO MUCH FOR PEACEFUL AND CONSTRUCTIVE PROTESTERS.
According to one of the appended “letters” (from Clinton Herring), after the meeting, an “inconsolable” Maxwele was taken aside by Price and “seriously engaged with”.  NGWENYA, CATHY POWELL, NODOBA AND I WERE NOT SIMILARLY ‘CONSOLED’.  INDEED, SUBSEQUENTLY, NGWENYA WAS SUBJECTED TO ‘HATE SPEECH’ BY FALLISTS AND REFERRED TO AS A “SELL OUT” AND “HOUSE NI**ER”.
Other people present at the AGM who said/did nothing to object to the outrageous behaviour of the invaders/infiltrators at the meeting included Justice Albie Sachs, Emeritus Registrar Hugh Amoore, Emeritus Prof. David Aschman, ex-VC Stuart Saunders, UCT Executive Director Dr Russell Ally and Lorna Houston.

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