A POOR VOTER turnout for the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) over the past five years has led to the university proposing the use of an online voting system to elect the 2017/2018 members.

“It has become imperative to explore options to maximise students’ participation to validate the SRC as the elected governing structure with an acceptable threshold,” said Jabu Mashinini of the Student Governance office, speaking on behalf of the dean of students, Dr Puleng Lenka-Bula.

She said that not once in the past five years has voter turnout reached the desired threshold of 25%. “The voter turnout in 2015 and 2016 was 23% and even lower in previous years,” Mashinini said. She added that, “Conventional methods of paper-based and physical voting have proven to be a tedious and resource-intensive exercise, particularly where the current generation expects the transmission of information to be instant, efficient and secured.”

Chairperson of the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) Phethani Madzivhandila, however, doubts that the electronic voting method will increase voting participation because candidates will not be able to campaign at voting stations as they did with physical elections.

Yanga Damane, chairperson of Democratic Alliance Student Organization (DASO), told Wits Vuvuzela that the introduction of the electronic voting system is a good idea as it will increase voter turnout. “Electronic applications proved to be a success at Stellenbosch and University of Pretoria,” he said.

“It’s about time,” said third-year BCom Law student, Lebohang Ndlovu. “I don’t know why it took Wits so long to introduce online voting. I mean we are students, there isn’t time to stand in long queues just to vote for the SRC.”

SRC President David Manabile said it would be premature to comment on this because it is an ongoing process. “We are still engaging with the higher authorities of the university. I therefore cannot publicly comment on this,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.

According to Mashinini, if there is agreement on the proposition, students will be able to vote from the computer labs and any other electronic device over a period of two days.

The SRC elections are scheduled for October 17 and 18.


Wits Vuvuzela: August 26, Testing time for SRC elections