Institute of Race Relations' Cronje defends UCT 'bush college' comment

Is the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) “an agent of the Broederbond…a gatekeeper for white supremacist ideology”?

This was one of the questions and comments directed towards the liberal think-tank’s CEO Frans Cronje after he yesterday tweeted: “UCT’s reputation will take a step downwards after events of tonight. Can it recover or is it doomed to become Cape Town’s ‘bush college’?

Cronje’s post was in reaction to the University of Cape Town council’s decision last night to remove the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from its Upper Campus.

In reaction to the tweet‚ many users of the social network demanded to know what Cronje meant by “bush college”.

“Come again?” asked ?@joshjordaan‚ “Are black students bush people now?”‚ while @Sini–ABCDimbaza said: “Hahahahaha you are so bitter shame @FCronje–IRR I guess Yale University is also a ‘bush college’ for supporting the UCT SRC :)”.

@MaksMolomo sarcastically weighed in with: “@FCronje–IRR Tjo! Mr Cronje you will have to explain this in bush talk to the bush people who are misunderstanding you from their caves.”

Approached for comment by RDM News Wire‚ Cronje this morning denied that the tweet was racist and said that the nature of the backlash just “proves the point”.

He said that the decisions taken to remove the Rhodes sculpture were made by an overwhelming majority by both UCT’s senate and council against a backdrop of “intimidation and fear” in what should be “an open space for argument and engagement”.

“Academics never agree on anything‚” Cronje said.

 “Decisions can’t be made while students are dancing on tables‚ singing ‘One Settler‚ One Bullet’‚” he continued.

 “When decisions are made like that‚ it has become a parochial and provincial institution‚ which‚ in the South African context‚ is a ‘bush college’.”

Some of Cronje’s detractors suggested that it was time for him to step down from his position at the IRR‚ prompting the hashtag #FransConjeMustFall.

This‚ Cronje opined‚ was just another example of the intolerance which characterised the statue protests in the country.

Cronje said he wouldn’t be engaging those who had taken issue with the post on Twitter as it is hard to “include nuance in 140 characters…and it quickly degenrates into a nasty space”‚ but added that he would be expounding on the “bush college” furore in two upcoming columns.

 Although in the minority‚ some did‚ however‚ support Cronje’s stance — @uncle–kosie posted: “@joshjordaan @FCronje–IRR The issue is total transformation without merit‚ that will result in a bush college‚ simple”‚ to which David Bullard‚ who was axed from the Sunday Times for an offensive column‚ replied: “@uncle–kosie @FCronje–IRR @steve–hofmeyr Oh dear….more manufactured outrage from our libtard friends. When will they grow up?”



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