DISABLED Wits students lost their place at O-week due to an ugly spat between the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Members of the Wits Disability Unit—an office dedicated to helping disabled students—lost their spot in the O-week clubs and societies tent on Wednesday when their table was allegedly taken over by Wits EFF.The Wits Disability Unit was left off to the side with their materials pinned haphazardly to a table manned by three of their members, two of whom were in wheelchairs.
“Now we have to put our posters here,” said a unit member pointing to posters glued to a table.
The unit had a spot in the tent but, unlike many other clubs and societies, their table was without amenities like a bulletin board.
Wits EFF Chair, Vuyani Pambo said SRC clubs and societies portfolio holder Sarah Mokwebo asked Campus Control to evict Wits EFF from the tent. Mokwebo told them the Wits EFF table belonged to the Wits Disability Unit. She attempted to lead the Disability Unit back to the table occupied by Wits EFF but the red-beret clad students refused to move. “We won’t concede the space. We have our freedom of expression,” Pambo said.
Pambo accused Mokwebo of using the disabled students for “cheap politics”.
“She’s trying to play cheap politics by using disabled people. She was riding them on their wheel chairs,” Pambo said.
Both Mokwebo and SRC secretary Michlene Mongae declined to comment to Wits Vuvuzela on the spat with Wits EFF. Wits EFF are not a recognised club and society at Wits.Pambo said this was due to a rivalry with the PYA—which includes the ANC Youth League—that dominates the SRC. “They say we are not a club,” said Pambo.
“They will never register us, they are ANC. They lie and say that we didn’t submit at all.”
Wits EFF was not the only one of the PYA’s political rivals to be made unwelcome in the clubs and societies tent. On Tuesday, Projected W was forcibly ejected from the tent by PYA members led by Mokwebo. Like Wits EFF, Project W is not a recognised club and society at Wits.In cellphone pictures sent to Wits Vuvuzela by Project W, PYA members can be seen setting Project W t-shirts alight and stamping them underfoot.
Project W SRC member Jamie Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that his organisation was “banned” last year because of its constitution. Mokwebo rejected the claim that Project W had been banned. “It never existed,” she said.
Sithembiso Mphunyane, the secretary of the Wits SA Students Congress, said Project W and Wits EFF should not complain because “the law took its course”.
“[EFF] are an excited newborn…however they failed [to] meet the requirements by virtue of them not applying on time. Therefore [they] are not eligible to do anything on campus, they are not in any position to talk to students,” Mphunyane said.
Mphunyane called Project W “excited clowns that are just excited and mushroomed out the conditions of excitement”.
Mphunyane said they removed Project W from the tent at the request of the PYA members of the SRC.
However, he denied the PYA had used “physical” means to remove Project W.