When I saw the Eckhard Binding video yesterday morning I reacted, at first, like I imagine most people do, with disgust. It looked like an appalling scene.
Here was some white guy just trying to clean up some litter, and here were two women in EFF outfits, tossing his picked-up litter out of the bin as soon as he tossed it in. He just kept picking it up though, and they just kept tossing it out. It looked like classic bullying and the EFF looked bad. This is really not cool, I thought. And by the way, what is going on here anyway? I soon learnt that the footage was from a protest at the University of the Free State last week where a group of people, including EFF members, were demanding the insourcing of staff on campus, which has been a cry of the Fees Must Fall movement for some time now, among many other things.
As far as I know, this is a worthwhile cause, and campus facilities staff stand to benefit from being directly employed by their university, though I’m admittedly no expert on labour matters. I also assumed the students were protesting for more Free Everything – and good luck to them on that front. I genuinely don’t agree with the idea, though that’s not what I want to write about here.
The protesters had trashed the campus, as they often do (with predictable, mind-numbing regularity each year). Binding told The Citizen yesterday he’d even had a chair tossed at him, coincidentally and allegedly, by one of the women standing at the bin in the clip. LISTEN: Eckhard Binding explains why he kept picking up the EFF’s litter Violent protests are rarely good.
But there is a perception that has been encouraged in this country that the only way you can get people in power to listen to you is if you burn something down or wreck it in some way.