What sets new party apart from other political parties is that ‘we actually do what we say’, says chairperson. 

The Azanian Students Convention (Azasco) can finally set out its plan to “bring back the ideologies of black consciousness amongst students” after months of dealing with rejections and appeals. 

This is according to the party’s chairperson, Matthew Clarke, who told Wits Vuvuzela that the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA)-led SRC had delayed their registration. 

Azasco had its first executive committee election on May 15, where Clarke and seven other members were elected to the executive committee.  

The 22-year-old BA law student added that when Azasco “first became active in early 2022”, they were told by the SRC that they could only campaign on campus once they had sent out an application to be considered as a club and society (CSO) at Wits. When applications opened in August 2022, they sent out their application but this was rejected in February.  

When he enquired why their application had been rejected, Clarke says student governance officer Wiseman Khumalo told him it was because they were a political organisation, and that they first had “to do some groundwork and establish some sort of visibility before [they could be] an official CSO”. 

The appeal process started two weeks later which delayed Azasco’s registration even further. “This was clearly an attempt [by the SRC] to push our appeal back until it [was] too late to register”, says Clarke. 

Khumalo, however, says, “There were several abnormalities such as the March protests which caused delays in the appeals process.” 

After taking the matter up with deputy dean of students Tshegofatso Mogaladi, Azasco was finally registered on April 4, thus overcoming the SRC’s said “attempts to prevent” them from registering. 

Clarke says although they were given more time to campaign outside Umthombo Building and to hand out membership forms and sort out other admin documents, it was difficult as they had “missed out on the opportunity of campaigning during O-week” and had to settle for a time in which students were now preoccupied by “assignments and exam season”.  

Azasco wasn’t the only political organisation whose application was rejected by the SRC. Wits Build One South Africa leader, Nikilitha Mxwina, told Wits Vuvuzela that their application was also rejected and one of the reasons given by the PYA was that their programme was “vague”. 

The SRC told Wits Vuvuzela that, “The Wits SRC is committed to ‘providing democratic, transparent, effective, accountable and coherent student leadership’, as such we hold no bias against any CSO applicants.” 

As the student wing of the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo), Azasco aims to “produce a self-reliant and accountable student populace for black students” by reviving “the ideals and proxies of black consciousness, radical [and] revolutionary left-wing politics, and to decolonise and Africanise the education system …”, says Clarke.

Unlike other parties, they plan to “actually do what we say in our plan of action”, Clarke says. “Watch and see us on the ground, and you can say what makes us different.” 

FEATURED IMAGE: Azasco chairperson Matthew Clarke makes up for lost time in recruiting students to join the party. Photo: Nonhlanhla Mathebula