Oxfam South Africa condemns attacks on Queer and Feminist activists by male members of the Fallist Movement!

The incidents of the 4th April at Wits University and the violence meted out to a group of Queer Feminists; by known male leaders of the Fallist movement is deeply disappointing.

According to the queer feminists who were attacked, the decision for the “Shut-down” was taken to the explicit exclusion of Feminist ,Queer and trans bodies, and the fact when they demanded accountability for this exclusion they were met with violence, is appalling. Unequivocally, the story of both Rhodes must fall and Fees must fall movements cannot be told without the explicit acknowledgement of the significant contributions of queer and feminist students.

Unfortunately, the incidents of the 4th April are not in isolation. This has continued to happen despite several calls to end the misogyny, Trans* and homophobia within the Fallist movement. These expressions of hatred,  including insults,  shutting out, assault, continue unabated, without remorse or recourse for the violations despite feminists and queer bodies having put themselves on the line in support of the decolonisation movement. It is as we understand part of the broader violence within the movements, of the erasure and the exclusion of critical and inconvenient voices.

We are particularly appalled by the fact that in the picture with a group of RMF/ FMF males strangling Thenjiwe Mswane, one of the assailants is wearing a t-shirt with an Oxfam logo. Oxfam South Africa unequivocally supports the statement and demands by the Wits Queer Feminists. Oxfam takes a firm stand against any form of violence and discrimination and we are appalled see our logo, name and values being sullied by these actions.

We will henceforth work in solidarity with those on whom a kind of “war” of exclusion has allegedly been declared. Enemies of women, queer, Trans oppressed people are not our friends. We believe that mysogony and patriarchy are what cause the divisions in movements, and not the resistance of those who are oppressed and marginalise is divisive.

We appeal to progressive forces of the Fallist movement to not allow this movement of hope to be sullied, hijacked and reduced to the stereotypes of movements in which women and queer bodies were needed to be the hands and bodies when it was convenient but erased, excluded as soon as their critical voices became an inconvenience.

Oxfam South Africa reiterates its full support to the ongoing struggles for Insourcing and free education, and the movements and efforts to build an analysis that is inclusive and progressive.

We unequivocally support the call for free, demilitarised, decolonised higher education in South Africa as a fundamental intervention to the building of a free and just South Africa. We are in addition, in full support of the demands regarding exclusions, suspensions and deregistration that are further excluding particularly poor Black students from the academy and deepening inequalities. Last year, during the rise of a radicalised articulation of the student and worker struggles through Fallism, Oxfam South Africa put out a statement of support and has been in solidarity with these movements in many ways.

At the time, we noted with excitement that a refreshing and unique trait of this movement was that women, queer and trans people were not just the bodies in the marching line, but  real voices in the frontline of articulating the politics and vision of the movement. In the frontline of bearing the brunt of state and institutional repression of the movement.

We were most captured by the call that this struggle will be intersectional or it will be, as the feminist and queer activists say “it will be bullshit”. We felt that for the first time, it was possible for a movement to inspire a deeper, more radical politics of an alternative social order that none of the liberation movements or in SA’s case, post-apartheid movements have managed to do. We acknowledge that the road ahead would be tough for any movement that tries to do this, as we are working from a baseline of a political socialization of women hating, queer hating, trans hating, erasure and the misogynistic interactions this socialization impose.

The men who carried out and supported these attacks are doing the working of dividing and destroying a movement carrying the hopes of emancipatory revolution. They should not be allowed to succeed. Queers and feminists must emerge stronger and lead the recovery and rejunevation of the Fallist movements and must not be cowered into handing over a movement that they have a legitimate claim to because they built it.

Notes to editors: 
Contact information:

Kwezilomso Mbandazayo (0828170097/ kwezi.mbandazayo@oxfam.org.za)

Ronald Wesso (0716136471/ email: Ronald.wesso@oxfam.org.za)

Oxfam South Africa office: Busiswa Nyume (+27 11 223 2440)

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