The SRC has failed to remove its president Morris Masutha after three attempts to do so.
Citing lack of sufficient governance and leadership, the SRC passed a motion at the end of May to replace Masutha with his vice chair, Itumeleng Mafatshe. At a special meeting held on June 10, SRC members elected Mafatshe as president and Masutha as gender and transformation officer.
These elections were later deemed unconstitutional by the Wits legal office on the grounds that the SRC had failed to secure a two-thirds majority. This decision has been appealed by the SRC.
Meanwhile Masutha, who remains president, is adamant that the motion to have him removed was politically motivated by his refusal to support Julius Malema in the ANCYL elections.
“This has nothing to do with the competency of the SRC and everything to do with personal agendas against me by a few leaders within the ANCYL,” said Masutha.
“I made it clear that I did not support the re-election of President Malema, and I remain convinced that at no point do I view him as the champion of the poor. This was merely an attempt by the ANCYL to humiliate me, because whoever disagrees with Julius will be humiliated,” said Masutha.
Godfrey Maja, chairperson of the Wits ANCYL lashed out about Masutha’s relationship with Wits management. He also says Masutha insulted the branch by going against their organisational stance when he did not back Malema.
“He chose to disregard it, I allowed him the space to say whatever he wanted, but we knew the organization would have to take appropriate steps”.
The PYA sent out a letter announcing the removal of Masutha from their structures. The letter was signed by the heads of ANCYL, SASCO and Young Communist League. It read:
PYA DISOWNS this former comrade and distances itself from any conduct, speech or activity of whatever nature he engages in. He must never in any platform speak or act on behalf of PYA or any of its Constituents and we NO longer regard him as president of the SRC as per the uncontested resolution of general members.
Bongani Jacob, media and publicity officer for the SRC has refuted that the motion was politically motivated. “We are dealing with student issues not politics, this decision was based on his failures and inability to govern the SRC properly,” he said.
Jacob said the SRC was unhappy that Masutha had not delivered on his promises and hardly spent any time in his office.
“We respect his programmes and his efforts to raise funds for students, he is a very active member of the SRC, but as the head of governance he has failed,” said Jacob.
Masutha argues that the he has fulfilled his role as president and the reason for slow implementation of SRC objectives had to do with delayed budget approval by management.
Not all SRC members supported the motion. “The SRC constitution does not accommodate for reshuffling,” said SRC member Brendan von Essen.
“I think Morris has done a pretty good job so far and I didn’t think the reasons given by the SRC constituted such drastic action,” he added.
In the meantime the SRC continues to function. “We are being professional about this and doing our work. We are here to serve the students,” said Jacob.
Masutha said he put up a fight because he is concerned about the precedent this would set. “I didn’t want to give into this kind of bullying because it would mean that any SRC president after me would be passive, spineless, and would have to be very careful as to who he/she offends or differs with. I did it for the future presidents who don’t need to be yes men/women because they’re afraid to be recalled.”