Apr 27, 2016

Angry Rhodes students shun President Bathabile Dlamini

Following the protest of Rhodes student on Tuesday 19th, Rhodes University students shunned ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini on Friday when she visited the institution to show solidarity with students who embarked on a week-long protest against rape and sexual assault on campus‚ The Herald reported.

Calling the visit a slap in the face‚ students asked where Dlamini had been during the height of the protests last week when some of them were arrested‚ the university took out an interdict and classes ground to a halt.

Only a handful of students made their way to the Rhodes University Theatre on Friday evening to hear Dlamini speak‚ with the rest saying she had arrived late and‚ by that time‚ most of the students had gone to watch a play at the theatre‚ which was based on the rape and sexual violence culture.

Prior to addressing the students‚ Dlamini spent hours in a meeting with Rhodes University vice-chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela.

Also present were the league’s secretary-general‚ Meokgo Matuba‚ as well as its provincial executive led by provincial chairwoman Bukelwa Fanta.

The meeting was aimed at finding solutions to the burning issue of university policies pertaining to rape and sexual harassment.

Dlamini said the meeting had been emotional at times‚ but students and management had agreed that policies regarding sexual harassment at the university would be reviewed.

“Students at the university have faced many challenges‚ especially young women‚ and through the engagement with students and management‚ we have agreed that policies will be reviewed‚” she said.

“We‚ as the ANC Women’s League‚ will work together with the university to effect change in the way cases of sexual harassment are handled.”

Students had mixed feelings about Dlamini’s visit‚ with some saying her engagement with university management was a step in the right direction‚ while others questioned the timing of the visit.

A second-year student‚ who did not want to be named‚ said: “In my opinion‚ it is a slap in the face because they are only doing it for popularity.

“Where were they when we were being shot at and arrested?

“Where were they last week during all our protests?

“How can they decide to show their faces now?

“As students we are angry. It feels like we do not have any power‚” she said.

Social Sciences student Thato Rothwick‚ 25‚ said she believed the league should have been at the forefront of the protests from the start.

“For them to come out today‚ a week after the protests started‚ is quite bad‚” she said.

“I think it’s just political showboating. Election time is nearing‚ so they are trying to drum up all the support they can.

“If they were so concerned about the welfare of the students‚ why were they not in the frontline of the battle?

“Why come when everything has subsided?”

However‚ Dlamini said: “Who said we are only coming here a week [later]?

“When the story broke in the news‚ our chairperson and provincial secretary came here‚ so the branch and regional officials were here working with the students.

“If you don’t see our senior leaders in a particular place‚ it doesn’t mean that we are not there.”

This is not the first time Dlamini has taken flak in the region recently.

A day before the ANC’s election manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth earlier this month‚ she was reduced to tears when angry Red Location residents accused her of being drunk‚ saying she reeked of alcohol.

-TMG Digital/The Herald