Project W SRC members in transformation flap

SRC members Thamsanqa Pooe and Tanya Otto have been accused of not receiving permission to do an interview on news channel ANN7 on behalf of Transform Wits and the Wits SRC. 

Two Project W SRC members  have received flak from the SRC leadership and a transformation group at Wits who have accused the duo of misrepresenting their organisations in a television interview on ANN7.

Thamsanqa Pooe and Tanya Otto did the interview on Straight Talk with Ralph Mathekga this past Sunday. They spoke on issues of transformation and activist organisation Transform Wits.

The SRC claims that they were not informed that two of its members would be doing an interview on transformation at Wits this past weekend. Transform Wits and RhodesMustFall also tweeted the Wits SRC to express their dissatisfaction.

Transform Wits member Fatima Mukaddam said the movement feels offended by Pooe and Otto and accused them of speaking for her organisation.

“As a former SRC member I believe that Thami’s actions were disrespectful towards the rest of the SRC,” Mukaddam said.

She added that Pooe and Otto were also not the right people to be interviewed about the transformation about Wits because they were ill-formed about the subject.

“They did not know the statistics which was embarrassing and problematic,” said Mukaddam.

SRC deputy president Shaeera Kalla said that Transform Wits should have been interviewed, not any SRC members. “The SRC endorses the views expressed by Transform Wits but we are not leading the movement,” she said.

The RhodesMustFall movement at the University of Cape Town also tweeted its displeasure about Pooe and Otto’s interview to the Wits SRC, prompting the SRC to distance itself from the Project W members.

“There were complaints from the Rhodes Must Fall movement … It was legitimate for the SRC to distance themselves,” Kalla said.

DISTANCED FROM SRC: Thamsanqa Pooe one of the SRC members  who failed to follow protocol concerning interviews.

DISTANCED FROM SRC: Thamsanqa Pooe is one of the SRC members who failed to follow protocol concerning interviews. photo: file photo

Pooe admited that he was wrong by not informing the SRC and Transform Wits about the interview but doesn’t feel he should have been criticised publically on Twitter. “I made a mistake but there was no need for the public isolation,” he said.

Pooe, who is the SRC transformation officer, said that he and Otto did not contradict any views that were already aligned to the SRC and Transform Wits and he would not apologise anything said during the interview.

On Wednesday, repsponding to criticism on Twitter, Otto defended herself an accused the Progressive Youth Alliance, who form the majority on the SRC, of double standards.

“If PYA members did the same thing and received the same hate, SRC would be defending them,” Otto said.

Transform Wits

Transform Wits was started last month by Politics postgraduate students. However, Pooe said that he had started a movement called “Transformation Wits”. He said his views were aligned withTransform Wits.

But Kalla scoffed at Pooe’s group. “Nobody knows about Thami’s organisation,” she said.

Abiding by protocol

According to Kalla, Pooe and Otto did not abide by the rules set out by the SRC for public announcements, whether on behalf of the SRC or their own private capacity. However, she said the SRC does not plan to take disciplinary action against the two.