The 2021/22 Wits student representative council (SRC) candidates elected amid complaints raised about a glitch in the voting system.
Dean of Student Affairs, Jerome September, announced the newly elected student representative council members on September 8, 2021, via YouTube – as speculation around the electoral process spread on social media.
A video posted by the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters Student Council (EFFSC), documented the online voting system, seemingly not allowing votes to be cast for their candidates in particular. This came hours before the two day voting window was about to close.
The Wits EFFSC has noted that students can’t select EFFSC Candidates but can select the PYA. It’s clear that the university’s doesn’t want the EFFSC to be SRC
This is purely CHEATING. @WitsElections @WitsUniversity @WitsVuvuzela @Wits_News pic.twitter.com/ZEr6Dz5ZZa
— Wits EFFSC (@WitsEFF) September 8, 2021
Voters commented below the post accusing Wits University of rigging the elections “once again”. “They pick a random 30-minute slot and fault our candidates, automatically giving PYA votes. Same method, different year,” bachelor of laws student, Danelson Mkansi, wrote on Twitter.
Wits Vuvuzela tested the allegations on the voting portal, at various intervals and did not experience any issues selecting or voting for any of the eligible candidates.
In response to the allegations, the Wits Elections account posted that the elections are “trustworthy” before voting closed. This was later accompanied by an email sent to all Wits staff and students that read: “Any videos in circulation displaying otherwise are false and malicious. The system is under constant surveillance and monitoring by an independent auditing firm.”
As part of the constitutional requirement, SRC candidates may only be elected once the voter turnout reaches 25%. This year’s voter turnout increased by 0.32% from last year, reaching 25,55%.
The total eligible voters for last year were 39 251, but only 10 319 students cast a vote. This year’s total eligible voters reached 40 459, with an increase of 436 ballots cast in this year’s election.
The number of candidates elected is not inclusive of the other leaders yet to be announced to represent residences, sports, postgraduates, international students and those who have disabilities. These positions will be finalised within 48 hours.
Prior to announcing the new SRC, September urged students to: “Follow the constitutional provisions [and] rules promulgated by the university in respect of the results”. September reminded those with complaints to lodge them formally, otherwise, their issues could not be investigated.
The newly elected Wits SRC general representatives consists of 13 students, nine coming from the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and four from EFFSC. This year’s council welcomes 10 new student representatives, who were all reminded of their mandate to represent and serve Wits students, particularly those who are marginalised.
“While elections can be divisive, this is the moment for you to come together, to work together in the interest of every single Wits student,” said September during his announcement of the new members.
FEATURED IMAGE: SRC voting website logo. Photo: Provided