Project W’s Jabulile Mabuza and Jarred Hart respond to the announcement of the 2013 SRC portfolio. Photo: Ray Mahlaka
By Ray Mahlaka and Emelia Motsai
Progressive Youth Alliance’s (PYA) Shafee Verachia was elected the new SRC president at the constitutional meeting that was held yesterday.
The meeting was held to determine which portfolios the newly elected SRC members will take up.
Outgoing SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa said Verachia’s position was uncontested. The new SRC is made up of eight PYA members and seven Project W members who were voted for by Witsies last month.
Paul Ndeweni got the deputy president portfolio, Michlene Monya is the secretary general, Shoki Masha, deputy secretary general and the treasurer is Sandile Ngwenya.
[pullquote]”It’s clear they do not want to work with us”[/pullquote]
The new SRC will no longer have two deputy presidents but will have a deputy secretary general. Some portfolios like clubs, societies and student governance were merged.
Academics and policy were also merged and so was projects, media and campaigns.
Two new portfolios were created, day student liaison officer and campus liaison officer. Having only PYA members in the executive team and merging of some portfolios left Project W SRC elects very upset.
Project W’s Jabulile Mabuza, who got a newly created portfolio said she was disheartened by what had happened and PYA had merged positions to monopolise power.
“It’s clear they do not want to work with us,” said Mabuza with tears in her eyes.
Outgoing vice president external Joy Phiri said it was normal for the SRC to create new positions to meet the needs of students.
Jamie Mighti of Project W said he was “disgusted and shocked”. He said they were not consulted on the decision to create the new portfolios or who was going to take what portfolio. He described the portfolio’s his organisation received as “fluff positions”.
He added: “They [PYA] don’t want to negotiate. They have created a winner takes all situation.”
PYA member Tebogo Thothela, (SRC 2011/12), said they had been in talks with Mighti about the issue of portfolios and Mighti’s demands were two portfolios in the executive team for Project W. He said they (Project W) said nothing about the other portfolios.
2013/14 SRC portfolios
- President- Shafee Verachia – PYA
- Deputy President Paul Ndiweni – PYA
- Secretary general- Michlene Mongae – PYA
- Deputy Secretary general- Shoki Masha – PYA
- Treasurer- Sandile Ngwenya
- Projects, media and campaigns- Nelson Maunatlala – PYA
- Clubs, societies and student governance – Sarah Mokwebo – PYA
- Academics and policies- Angeliki Vidalis – PYA
- Community and service development- Avigal Cutler – Project W
- Transformation officer- Jarred Hart- Project W
- Legal officer- Gerry Comninos – Project W
- Strategic planning- Ethan Genende – Project W
- International officer- Kay Mlaba – Project W
- Campus liaison officer- Jabulile Mabuza – Project W
- Day student liaison officer- Jamie Mighti- Project W
This Side: Chief Electoral Officer Jabu Mashinini oversees the putting up of demarcation tape Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
Demarcation tapes were put outside the voting tents to prevent SRC candidates from talking to voters 40 meters within the entrance of the voting station.
“I think they’re imposing themselves on voters,”said Jabu Mashinini of candidates regularly breaking the 40 meter threshold they are allowed to be from the entrance of voting tents.
Mashinini is the Chief Electoral Officer during this year’s elections.
[pullquote]I think they’re imposing themselves on voters[/pullquote]
“It’s okay they can campaign but they must do it on this side” she said. Mashinini was pointing to the perimeter of blue and white IEC tape she and her team decided to put up to keep candidates on the right side of electoral regulations. SRC candidates who spoke to Wits Vuvuzela about “chance” voters, voters convinced on the spot to vote, mostly defended the use of i-gcebhezana and face-to-face canvassing.
Progressive Youth Alliance candidate, Sandile Ngwenya said that campaigning outside voting stations contributed greatly to the overall number of voters and was necessary to combat Wits’s “historically high student apathy”.
“Some Witsies are just here to study, that’s the niche we focus on. We tell them what we’ve done for them as the PYA and what we’ll continue to for them,” Ngwenya said.
Vote “Me”: PYA candidate Banks Sandile Ngwenya crosses over to woo a voter. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
Fellow PYA candidate Michelene Mongae agreed on the importance of talking to students before they went in to vote.
“Some students, we’ll talk to them and they’re like “oh, I can relate to that as a problem,” she said.
Daso candidate Luyolo Mphithi said “this is the most important point in the elections”. Mphithi said interacting directly with potential voters was important because it made those who weren’t aware of the issues.
Project W candidate Gautum Rao also defended active campaigning outside the stations. “We just want people to know exactly what’s up,” Rao said.
“I don’t say vote … I give them a run-down of our policies. I want them to make an informed choice.”
Day 2 of the 2013 SRC elections saw a marginally lower turnout of Witsies coming to cast their votes, as the term winds down and students look forward to the September break and the final semester of the year.
The mundane pace allowed Wits Vuvuzela to observe more closely the different candidates, as they went about convincing students strolling past the voting tent pitched outside the Great Hall stairs.
[pullquote]”i-’gcebhezana”[/pullquote] For some Witsies, that stroll would turn into brisk scamper and eventually a light jog, as they attempted to dodge eager candidates hovering around the voting tent with “i-’gcebhezana” (slips with photographs and candidate numbers of particular party’s candidates)and asking for a “word”.
One anonymous Wistie, who said he would not be voting, even after “enduring” more than 15 minutes listening to a Daso campaigner on why he should, said all the parties were “selling a product I’m not interested in buying”. Chief electoral officer Jabu Mashinini also had a problem with the campaigning tactics.
HUDDLED MASSES: 2013 SRC elections candidates debate with each other and voters. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
The 2013 SRC elections started today. The voting process is an easy and convenient one so if you have not yet voted you still have two more days so go for it.
STEP ONE: Go to a voting station with your student card. There are voting stations on the different campuses so find one closest to you.
STEP TWO: An election “scrutineer” will take your card to mark on it that you have voted and to check if you are eligible to vote.
STEP THREE: Get your name checked off on the register.
STEP FOUR: Get your ballot. Make sure your ballot has been signed to verify its validity.
STEP FIVE: Go to the cubicle and mark 15 circles next to your favourite candidates’ numbers. Remember you can vote for less than 15 candidates but you cannot vote for more than 15.
STEP SIX: Drop your ballot into the ballot box. Remember not to fold your ballot. Then that’s it, you’ve voted. Well done.
Ethan Genende: “We are project Jamie, project Ethan, project student, project you.”
Photo: Emelia Motsai
By Emelia Motsai and Mfuneko Toyana
Whether you have a problem with how Project W started or not, you still have to accept the fact that they are here. And they are causing a lot of noise. It appears that the PYA sees them as a bigger threat than Daso.
Project W strongly supports “food security” and say they have collected more than 3 000 canned food items for students in need.
Among other promises, they have promised to reopen O Village. They say they will bring international acts to the Freshers’ Ball and ensure that students receive their exam scripts back within 2 weeks of writing.
Project W promises that they will provide for the wants of students, If what the students want is “practical and can happen in a short amount of time”. They also promise to extend library hours and reintroduce coin slots for the Kudu Bucks machines.
Students say that Jamie Mighti is the only member who is vocal and constantly in the spotlight as spokesperson. Mighti is the most prominent member of Project W. Some people have even begun to call the organisation “Project Jamie”. “We are project Jamie, project Ethan, project student, project you,” said Ethan Genende from Project W.
Dikeledi Selowa: “We are not political opportunists.” Photo: Emelia Motsai
The Democratic Alliance’s youth wing, Daso, has put forward 14 candidates clad in bright blue T-shirts in the hope of breaking the Progressive Youth Alliance’s dominance at the ballot box.
The DA Student Organisation has promised Witsies the world, or at least something close. The usual promises are there: To create an SRC for all campuses; a reform of NSFAS criteria that exclude students who are “not poor enough” and a slew of improvements to residence conditions.
The hot potato of this year’s elections, an expanded bus system that will serve more campuses and surrounding taxi ranks, has also found its way onto Daso’s manifesto. The ambitious 18-point manifesto does contain some unique proposals such as video-recorded lectures and new mattresses for the beds in residences.
One contentious promise has been Daso’s intention to create a bail-out fund for “students who may lack finances for printing, supplementary exams, text books and excursions”.
Challenged on the precise amount of the proposed fund at election circuses around campuses, Daso candidates avoided going into details.
To entice students to be more involved in issues on campus, the party is promising to make student politics more fun.
Their manifesto promises to bring DJs and performing artists to liven up Student Forum, which is meant to be the platform for students to communicate with the sitting SRC.
Nelson Maunatlala urging students to vote for the PYA
The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) is undoubtedly the most confident group of the whole bunch. One might say they have reason to be as they have been dominating the SRC for the past three years.
Most of the time when they address students at the circuses they talk about what the PYA-led SRC has achieved. They promise to continue to fight fee increments and increase the budget for school councils. They also promise to improve communication with students which includes having an SRC office on medical campus where students often feel left out.
They also love to sing, in fact they do so at most circuses. Project W’s Jamie Mighti has accused them of doing nothing but singing and dancing, but they make no apologies for their singing.
Mbe Mbhele of the PYA said they take SRC responsibilities very seriously. “This is not a joke, we are busy here.”
The PYA is an alliance between the ANC Youth League, Young Communist League, South African Student Congress and Muslim Student Association. Last year they won 14 of the 15 seats on the SRC.
Voting starts on August 27 and ends August 29.
By Thuletho Zwane and Nomatter Ndebele
The SRC elections could soon become a legal battle as the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) and Project W take legal action against each other. Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice president internal, has laid an official complaint with the Wits Legal Office following a confrontation with Jamie Mighti, Project W candidate and former debating union chairperson.
The incident that led to the complaint.
[pullquote align=”right”]“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.”[/pullquote]
Nhlapo alleges that Mighti told him to be careful and watch his ways.“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.This happened when Nhlapo and Mighti had a political debate about an article Mighti had written about “blacks being lazy”. “My contestation with him is that he can’t say blacks are lazy because of our history,” Nhlapo said.
Nhlapo said he was also uncomfortable with the sexist remarks Mighti made a few months ago on the Wits Debating Union facebook page. Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela that he had lodged the complaint in fear of his life. “What I want from him is that he must stay away from me… he’s violent.”
Project W responds.
Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku may have legal action taken against him.
[pullquote align=”left”]“He [Mighti]] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,” [/pullquote]
During an interview with the Project W campaign manager, Cebo Gila, a female student approached him and said, “Guys, please control Jamie… he can’t go around picking fights”. Gila said Project W needed to “protect” rather than control Mighti. “He [Mighti] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,”
Gila said the opposition was preoccupied with personal attacks against Mighti for allegedly being violent and sexist , using his “history” to undermine Project W instead of engaging with the manifesto of the student action group.
“When he is being provoked on a daily basis to the point that he is being crucified, he is going to react,” Gila said. Gila said that members of Project W were being intimidated to the point where “I feel uncomfortable wearing this T-shirt”.“Do you understand that we have been bullied, we have been forced to change strategy, we have been victimized, our volunteers are told we are puppets,” he said.Gila also raised concern that Project W posters were being torn down.
Project W allegedly receives financial assistance from management.
[pullquote] “completely false
accusations” [/pullquote]made against it.
SRC treasurer, Justice Nkomo, claimed that Project W had received R500 000 from Wits management. He said Project W misled the students because it presented itself as humanitarian.“They ran it [Project W] as a charity campaign but it has a political agenda,” Nkomo said. “They are collecting cans [of food] now; were people not starving in March and April?”
Project W is considering seeking legal avenues to deal with the“completely false accusations” made against it. Gila said that Project W never misrepresented itself. “The misconception is an incompletion of how they [the PYA] understand Project W,” Gila said.
Mighti declined to comment on the incident with Nhlapo and referred Wits Vuvuzela to Gila. Gila said the incident was “regrettable, from both parties”. Wits Vuvuzela was not able to reach the Wits Legal Office for comment.
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A REAL CIRCUS: SRC electoral candidates speak to the Student Development and Leadership Unit’s Nicole Msomi after the Ernest Men storm out of an electoral circus. They were unhappy with the ground rules related to the number of questions they could ask, the amount of time candidates had to respond and general conduct throughout the session . Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda
AS CAMPAIGNING for SRC elections enters its last leg, one of the final circuses ended with a walkout after EOH students felt disrespected by an official from the Student Development and Leadership Unit (SDLU).
There was trouble from the start when the Ernest Men (residents of Ernest Oppenheimer House) murmured in disapproval as the SDLU’s Nicole Msomi read out the rules of engagement at the start of the circus. As the event went on, it became obvious they did not appreciate how they were addressed by the university official.
Msomi accused the Ernest Men of not wanting to play by the rules and not wanting the SDLU, who are coordinating the SRC elections, present at the residence.
The situation got worse during the question and answer period. One of the Ernest Men asked the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) a question when it was the Democratic Alliance Student Association (Daso) turn to be queried.
“You see, you were not even listening,” said Msomi.
That was the last straw for the Ernest Men. They began heckling Msomi, then stood up and walked out. Some SRC candidates went after them in an unsuccessful attempt to get the Ernest Men to return.
[pullquote align=”right”]obvious they did not appreciate how they were addressed by the university official[/pullquote]
“That woman, that woman, that woman…” muttered an Ernest Man.
Following the walkout, Msomi gathered with campaign managers from the political organisations to discuss the way forward but they could not reach an agreement that would suit all the candidates.
Some of the candidates asked for rule changes and for Msomi to step down as the debate chair, but were rebuffed by the SDLU official.
Msomi then declared the EOH circus to be over and left the residence.
Pleading: SRC president and PYA candidate Yanga Nokwe appealed to EOH residents to return to the circus after they stormed walked out due to a disagreement with the SDLU representative who was coordinating the circus. Photo: Sibusisiwe Nyanda
The show must go on
However, after Msomi left, the circus resumed with the Ernest Men returning and the candidates organising what turned out to be a very civil debate. The EOH circus had started more than 30 minutes late because initially there were only a few students and PYA members in the audience. Project W candidate Jamie Mighti was one of those who tried to calm the situation at EOH.
Mighti had himself gotten into trouble earlier in the week on Monday when he was kicked out of a circus at Education Campus for misbehaviour. According to witnesses, Mighti got upset after a student asked why they should vote for him after he had accused students of having flat bums.
The student was referring to a Facebook spat the candidate had been involved in earlier this year.
The PYA has been the more confident political organisation. The SRC has been PYA-led for the past three years, allowing their candidates to campaign on an established record.
Daso candidates have displayed a lot of passion but have struggled to win over Witsies.
When I first saw that there were several independent candidates on the SRC list I was excited. That, to me, meant there were Witsies among us who were so brave and so passionate that they would go through the difficult process of running without an organisation or a big support structure behind them.
[pullquote align=”right”]You remembered the guy who stood in front of you and gave you his best[/pullquote]
But my excitement was short- lived.
Firstly, most of the independent candidates did not make it to a lot of the circuses. As they are doing this on their own, I do understand that they would probably not be able to make it to all the circuses. But I really felt they missed way too many and they needed the platform more than all the other candidates running under well -known groups. I am not unsympathetic to their challenges, I realise that running for office and keeping up with school work can be challenging. But I do wonder, if they are unable to keep up now, how will they cope if they make it onto the SRC? The demands will surely be as bad, if not worse. What will they choose then?
Tell me who you are
But this is not even my biggest problem. It might be okay to miss circuses but it is certainly not fine to come ill-prepared. Some of them were either ill -prepared or really had nothing to offer students.
[pullquote]But some independent candidates waste their precious circus time on what the SRC has failed to do and spend very little or no time at all on what they want to do.[/pullquote]
If a candidate from Daso or the PYA or Project W messed up, there would be someone else from their group to pick up the slack and at least try to redeem the situation. When an independent candidate messes up, they’ve done just that and that is the end of the story.
One of the advantages of being an independent candidate is that they can connect with students on a personal level, students can identify with a fellow student better than they can with a group. They have the opportunity to get students to feel as if they know them, to get students to like them and trust them.
But some independent candidates waste their precious circus time on what the SRC has failed to do and spend very little or no time at all on what they want to do.
“If you want change, vote for me,” said one candidate.
“Who on earth are you?” I just wanted to scream out; he didn’t even mention his name at the beginning of his SRC-bashing speech.
Do you want it badly enough?
The last thing that saddened me about this year’s SRC independent candidates is the lack of fire. The reason the other groups fight is because they are passionate, they want to get onto the SRC and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get in. You never leave a circus with any doubt that the PYA, Daso or Project W candidates want to win. You might be uncertain about why they want to win but you will have no doubt that they want to win.
Last year Welcome Lashivha ran as an independent candidate and he made it onto the SRC, the only non-PYA member to do so. I think one of the main reasons he won was because of the passion he displayed while campaigning. Even if you were not impressed with his manifesto, you still remembered him. You remembered the guy who stood in front of you and gave you his best.
Because if you are not going to give this your best, why even bother?
The standing SRC and Wits Student Forum (SF) had their second “student parliament” meeting on Tuesday to give a progress report to students.
The gathering of some of the executive of the SRC, members of the different school councils, and the students that both groups represent, in a freezing cold Umthombo lecture room, was unusual for at least for two reasons:
The turn out hasn’t been good
One was for the conspicuousness of students, which was hard to ignore and was duly lamented by SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa, pointing out that despite advertising the event on twitter and via posters all over campus the turn out remained disappointing.
Mgudlwa explained that the SRC was required by its own constitution to hold at least two mass meetings, of at least 500 students, during its term in office. “The turn out hasn’t been good, it’s because of that demon called student apathy that must be arrested,” Mgudlwa said addressing an audience of a little more than 20.
The importance of university politics has increased according to Richard Calland, City Press columnist and author of The Zuma Years: South Africa’s Changing Faces of Power. This sentiment, however, seems to be lost on a majority of Witsies under two weeks to 2013 SRC elections.
Holding SRC accountable
A second “unusual” thing, which seemed like an attempt to mitigate the first, was that the parliament had been opened up to ordinary students and the media, something that was not standard practice. Student Forum, according to member Angeliki Vidalis, exists to “hold the SRC accountable” in terms of the SRC constitution.
“[We’re] allowed to be in direct communication with the SRC… Students can approach Forum if they have issues [with the SRC],” said Vidalis, who is running in this year’s elections under the banner of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA).
In his address, Mgudlwa highlighted the current SRC’s successes. A major one of those was in running financial battles with the university on a number of fronts. He said his office played a big role in convincing Finco to permit international students not to have to pay their entire fees upfront. Another success was next year’s implementation of “tier system” for the payment registration fees.
Mgudlwa said the system would charge student’s a registration fee according to the amount of money they earned, with those earning less paying less and being allowed to pay it in instalments. Another coup Mgudlwa was proud to trumpet was the initiation of busses to ferry students in the evenings to Park Station, Bree and Noord taxi ranks, as well as to non-university residences around Braamfontein.
[pullquote]that demon called student apathy that must be arrested[/pullquote]
Members of the various student councils who made up most of the numbers at the meeting were unanimous in their complaints, mainly that head of schools did not take them seriously and that the fees charged by Wits for supplementary exams was too high.
Mgudlwa said the SRC had fougt very hard to get the student councils recognised. On supplementary exams, Mgudlwa said “supp fees will not get changed if [only] two SRC members raised the issue every time”.
Current SRC members Tasneem Essop, Katleho Sera and Sibulele Mgudlewa . The new SRC will start their term in November. Photo: Nokuthula Manyathi
THE SRC nomination process has begun and the two biggest political organisations at Wits will be among those facing off to lead the university’s students.
Nominations for new SRC members opened on July 30 and will close on August 6 at 3pm. Any student can be a candidate provided they get the required 25 signatures from fellow students who support their nomination. The signatures must then be taken to the Student Development and Leadership Unit offices in the Matrix.
SA Student Congress president (Sasco) Tshepo Lethea said the ANC Youth League, Muslim Student Association and Sasco will be running together under the banner of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA). Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (Daso) president Luyolo Mphiti said his party would be competing strongly in the elections and he intended to become SRC president.
Students must apply for their candidacy and gather signatures as individuals. However, many students also run under the banner of larger political organisations following an internal nomination process by those parties.
Both PYA and Daso said their internal nomination processes were yet to begin. Mphiti said Daso’s electoral college for screening candidates had only just opened. He said they were under the assumption that the nomination season will be moved to September but they would still be ready by Tuesday deadline.
Lethea said they had not yet begun nominating PYA candidates: “We don’t have candidates as yet but by Tuesday we will be ready.”He said their development committee, which was still to be chosen, would be responsible for screening the members.According to Lethea the development committee is made up of “old and experienced” students who “know what they are talking about”.
Lethea said the committee will be looking for many things in their candidates including team chemistry: “We need to see if those comrades will be able to work together to complete the mandate given to them.”
Mphiti said the qualities Daso was looking for in its candidates were, among other things, “a set of principles consistent with DA policies”.
The elections will be held on August 27, 28 and 29.