A speech by Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson Mmusi Maimane during O-week was cancelled, allegedly because the party’s Wits youth wing failed to follow university procedure.
The alleged violation of protocol by the DA Student Organisation (DASO) resulted in Maimane being denied a speaking slot shortly before he was scheduled to address students.
Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice-president, told Wits Vuvuzela Maimane did not get permission to address students.
Prem Coopoo, dean of students, said she approves all society events of a political nature and does not allow any political speakers on campus during O-week. She added that the new executive committee may not have been aware of the procedure.
Maimane claimed censorship
Maimane said he was not allowed to speak at the clubs and societies’ marquee on the Great Hall piazza, although DASO had confirmed a 15-minute time slot the day before. The SRC drew up a timetable to give different societies the opportunity to promote themselves throughout the week.
In a press statement, Maimane described the incident as “anti-democratic bullying” by the “ANCYL-run Wits SRC”. Fourteen of the 15 elected SRC members belong to the Progressive Youth Alliance, a coalition between several student organisations including the Wits ANC Youth League.
“This is yet another example of how the ANC is attempting to close down the democratic space at our universities. There is a growing intolerance in the ANC of differing views,” he said.[pullquote]”He cannot expect to be given red carpet treatment here because he’s opposition”.[/pullquote]
Tshediso Mangope, Wits ANCYL chairperson, accused Maimane of “cheap politicking”.
“This ‘Robin Hood style’ of manoeuvring is not going to assist us … he cannot expect to be given red carpet treatment here because he’s opposition,” Mangope said.
In e-mail correspondence, DASO Wits requested a speaking slot with Apelele Pindani, SRC Clubs and Societies officer, over a week before the start of o-week.
But after Maimane’s arrival, Luyolo Mphithi, DASO Wits leader, said he was informed by the SRC that the society had not received the necessary clearance to have a political figure address students.
“They were telling us that we didn’t get permission to get him inside Wits and that he was not allowed to be inside.”
Published in Wits Vuvuzela (2nd edition), 15th February 2013