Amnesty International Wits has a new head after chairperson Amir Bagheri’s sudden resignation last month.
Bagheri said his decision to leave was based on a few issues. “One reason is I believe I’ve done my job as president. My ideal was to pull the organisation back together, to make it stable.”
He said although members are “great” at what they do, the “majority of the work was done by me”.
“The amount of work became frustrating because I didn’t have any help.”
New chairperson, Pearl Pillay, said the committee and members received an email from Bagheri notifying them of his departure.
“We’re a body, so if one person leaves it’s okay, we’re not completely useless. But we were kind of blindsided by how sudden it was.”
She believes that Bagheri’s feeling that the committee was too dependent on him was not completely correct.
“He would do most of the work, but not because we didn’t want to, it was because some of us didn’t know how to. I think he wanted to show us that we could do [things] on our own.”
Bagheri said he did not call a meeting to notify the organisation of his decision because he felt he didn’t have the “authority” to do so.
“Since I didn’t see myself as an amnesty member at that point in time, I didn’t feel that I had the authority to call a meeting.”
Andrew September, the vice chairperson, said the organisation has adapted well to the change. “It has all been resolved.”
September said the issue was blown out of proportion. “Members asked us questions [on Bagheri’s resignation] but it was more of an internal issue.”
Bagheri is running for the SRC, a decision he said he is now “ready” for based on his portfolio. Pillay said she wished him all the best.
“He changed the way people at Wits see [Amnesty]. We don’t have any issues.”