The ANC “is outraged by signs of deteriorating race relations and racial tensions, specifically in institutions of higher learning as evidenced by the violent clashes at the Universities of Free State and Pretoria,” ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.
This came after clashes between various groupings as a result of differences on language policy and employment conditions (outsourcing) in these institutions.
Tension was high at the University of Free State, where black students and workers who were disrupting a rugby match were attacked by white students on Monday. Workers at the university have been protesting to end outsourcing since last Thursday
Meanwhile, the University of Pretoria was on knife’s edge after violent clashes between students and police on Monday. Several students have been arrested. Black students have been protesting against using Africans as a medium of instruction, but white students want to protect the language and culture on campus.
“We strongly condemn such acts of violence regardless of the circumstances and the race and issues of those who participate in them,” Kodwa said in a statement.
The violence flared up despite a call by the ANC last week for South Africans to commit themselves to the founding values of this nation being human dignity, equality and freedom, that allow them to live together and build a socially cohesive nation.
“The utter disregard of these principles which create a platform for co-existence for our people, flies in the face of the determination of many peace loving South Africans who want to work together, live in harmony and work for common prosperity,” Kodwa said.
“Racial wars and racial tensions do not in any way bring us closer to the type of society we need to collectively build together,” he added.
The Constitution guarantees the right of people to protest, but protest action by any group should not hinder on the rights of others, said Kodwa.
“As South Africans we must defend our hard earned democracy; doing such demands that we, as difficult as it may be, recognise and promote the rights of all South Africans to their differing standpoints,” Kodwa said.
The ANC also urges university management across the country to work together with student movements to restore peace and stability on campus, he said.