Project W reject portfolio decision, look to referendum or legal recourse

Project W members of the Wits SRC (Students Representatives Council) have rejected a decision by the vice-chancellor (VC) about portfolio allocations and will continue to contest the outcome of the process.

Wits VC Prof Adam Habib has ostensibly put an end to the ongoing student leadership spat between Project W and the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) by endorsing the recent portfolio allocations but Project W say they will not accept the positions allocated to them.

All members of the SRC were informed of the VC’s decision via a letter on Wednesday but in response Jamie Mighti of Project W said, “We are unavailable to serve in sham portfolios and remain of the view that they were not in the interests of students and are thus unconstitutional.”

According to the response, sent in an email to the Dean of Students, Dr Pamela Dube, Project W said they “cannot serve in portfolios created without our consent and consultation. We will not therefore be taking up those specific portfolio allocations.”

Project W have notified the University that they “will be seeking further recourse from the student body through a referendum as well as through various other platforms both legal and otherwise.”

“We are unavailable to serve in sham portfolios”

On Friday, October 3, Project W walked out of a meeting of the SRC once again, arguing that ‘the best interests of the students are not being considered by the PYA in the portfolios that they are trying to bully the SRC into adopting”, according to Mighti.

“There is a continuing attempt by the PYA to create white elephant portfolios within the SRC to undermine the ability of Project W to serve the students and to attempt to emasculate the organisation’s longevity at the university,” he said.

Mighti added that “A cost benefit analysis of the portfolios proposed by both parties reflects the malice and bad faith of the PYA, as well as illustrating that they have little concern about student problems.”

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela on behalf of the PYA, Sasco chairperson Nompendulo Mkatshwa said: “We are receptive of Prof Habib’s endorsement of the list as re-constituted on Friday, 3 October 2014 as requested by colleagues of Project W. It cannot be that the leadership of students is held ransom by the lack of understanding of democratic centralism by others. It is unfair to the movement we are in – a movement driven by the interest of students.”

Mkatshwa said the portfolios of the SRC elect are in no way exclusive of the development and progress that ought to be achieved by the SRC in the interest of students.

“Now that Prof Habib has endorsed the list, those that want to lead can finally begin doing what students voted for them to do. Not everyone got the office they may have dreamed of, from executive to the last portfolio holder however, a good leader will always make the best of what they are given”, said Mkatshwa.

The VC’s intervention in the tussle between the SRC members, is based on Clause 30 (1) of the SRC Constitution which provides that: “After due notice of its failure to carry out any function or duty, should the SRC continue to fail in carrying out any of its functions or duties, the vice-chancellor has the power to carry out any such function or duty in the spirit and manner prescribed in this Constitution.”

“Having outlined the University’s position, I would like to consider this matter resolved and look forward to working with the new Student Representative Council”, said Habib in his letter.

The 2014/2015 Students Representative Council

1.  Mcebo Dlamini, President

2.  Shaeera Kalla, Deputy President

3 . Senzekahle Mbokazi, General Secretary

4 . Amogelang Manganyi, Deputy Secretary General

5 . Mthuthuzeli Mahlangu, Treasurer

6 . Tanya Otto, International Students Affairs

7 . Gwinyai Dube, Strategic Planning

8 . Omhle Ntshingila, Clubs, Societies & Organizations And Student Governance

9 .   Waseem Talia, Student and Legal Services

10.  Jamie Mighti, Campus Wellness

11 . Fasiha Hassan, Academic

12 . Kabelo Murray, Social and Community Development

13 . Thamsanqa Pooe, Transformation

14 . Enhle Khumalo, Research and Policy

15 . Blaise Koetsie, Projects, Media and Campaigns

 

No contest for SRC leader: PYA

The choice of Mcebo Dlamini for Student Representative Council (SRC) president was not contested within the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) , one of the organisation’s leaders said.

“There’s no one who contested presidency, Mcebo was elected unopposed,” Wits Young Communist League secretary David Manabile told Wits Vuvuzela. The Young Communist League is part of the PYA.

Last week, Wits Vuvuzela reported that there was disagreement within the PYA over who should be SRC president. According to one of the PYA leaders interviewed in the article, there was a struggle to decide between Dlamini, Amogelang  Manganyi and Senzekahle Mbokazi for president. There was disagreement over their different levels of experience and ability to carry out their duties.

But Manabile rejected this claim and said only Dlamini was mentioned as a potential president at the PYA’s deployment committee meeting and the following branch general meeting (BGM).

“We adopted recommendations of the deployment committee as they were. The only name raised for presidency was Mcebo Dlamini,” said Manabile.

“Those faceless people you interviewed might have had a different view but rest assured in the meeting we had, no one raised any other name for presidency.”

Sharing the same view, incoming president Dlamini said PYA members who believed there was a contest for SRC president were “lying”.

“There wasn’t any contestation for presidency, the sources were lying. I do not know if they were in the same BGM that we were in,” Dlamini said.

Although presidency was uncontested, Manabile said that PYA members in the BGM, which is the organisation’s highest decision making body, had differences over who would be Dlamini’s deputy.

“We did have different views as to who must deputize him but at the end we reached consensus, we left the meeting united, believing in the leadership that the BGM has agreed upon,” said Manabile.

A deployment committee list seen by Wits Vuvuzela listed Dlamini as president and Manganyi as vice president. The house reshuffled Manganyi to deputy secretary general and Shaeera Kalla from secretary general to vice president. Mbokazi who was initially given CSO and Student governance, was moved to secretary general.

Dlamini said although the vice president and secretary general portfolios were contested, that should not be seen as though “we are fighting”.

“It’s not like we are fighting when we contest. Contestation is fine and is allowed. It’s wrong for people who were in the BGM to witness this contestation and say that there is bad blood,” said Dlamini.

Wits SRC on the edge

 

IT’S PYA DAY: Project W’s Jamie Mighti (left) attempts to argue a point to PYA member and former SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa (right) after Project W walked out of the SRC’s fi rst meeting over the selection of portfolios. Mgudlwa attempted to bring Project W back to the meeting. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

IT’S PYA DAY: Project W’s Jamie Mighti (left) attempts to argue a point to PYA member and former SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa (right) after Project W walked out of the SRC’s first meeting over the selection of portfolios. Mgudlwa attempted to bring Project W back to the meeting.                                                                                                             Photo: Nqobile Dludla

by Ilanit Chernick and Nqobile Dludla

The abrupt end of the new SRC’s first meeting, which climaxed with a dramatic walkout by Project W who accused the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) of being “illegitimate and undemocratic”, followed a week of behind-the-scenes battles over positions on the new council.

Project W walked out during the vote for new portfolios, which they said were decided without their input by the PYA—who have a majority of the seats on the new SRC.

The vote carried on with PYA member Mcebo Dlamini being elected as the new SRC president.

However, while the PYA presented a united front at the SRC meeting, the decision to select Dlamini and other SRC executive committee members was far from unanimous.

“There are also older comrades in the PYA who influence the decisions on the presidential candidate and the executive committee. The process is increasingly frustrating,”

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to leaders in the PYA, who confirmed the alliance struggled to make a decision on who should be elected to the important executive positions. All the PYA leaders requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak on internal alliance politics.

According to one PYA leader, there was a struggle to decide between three presidential choices, Dlamini, Amogelang  Manganyi, and Senzekahle Mbokazi with disagreement over their different levels of experience and ability to carry out their duties.

Some PYA members believed Dlamini was the strongest candidate because of his position as Wits Junction chair despite a controversy earlier this year over his false claim to be a member of the prestigious Sisulu family.

“People want Mcebo despite controversies surrounding him in the Sisulu question,” the PYA leader said.

According to this PYA leader, Mangayani’s suitability as a SRC president was questioned because he is currently a fifth-year medical student and would face time constraints next year that would affect his ability to meet presidential duties.

This process of selecting executive members of the SRC was made more complicated by senior PYA leaders outside the current SRC attempting to influence the selection of positions.

“There are also older comrades in the PYA who influence the decisions on the presidential candidate and the executive committee. The process is increasingly frustrating,” the PYA leader said. He declined to name the senior PYA members involved.

However, a second PYA leader interviewed by Wits Vuvuzela denied that lobby groups within the alliance had been allowed to form.

“The PYA don’t squabble,” the second PYA leader said, “We meet as a collective. Those members with experience try to advise or give opinions when choosing candidates for exec or president but things change all the time.”

However, this PYA leader admitted the alliance had little control groups and friends within the PYA who form “behind closed doors” and who have decided on backing their own candidates.

“But we call all members of the PYA together to decide who should be presidential candidate. We decide and solve these issues together,” the PYA leader said.

The walkout

The politicking within the PYA ended with Wednesday’s meeting and the walkout by Project W.

Wits Vuvuzela had initially been denied access to the portfolio meeting. However, after a short conference between Project W’s Jamie Mighti and outgoing SRC president Shafee Verachia she was allowed in “as a student” so long as she put away her camera and voice recorder.

The meeting was held in Senate House and chaired by Verachia. It was attended by 14 of the 15 newly elected SRC members. Also in attendance were representatives from other Wits student councils and three members of the current SRC.

The meeting was also attended by former SRC and PYA members Sibulele Mgudlwa, Joyce Phiri and Tshepo Ndlovu, Ntshembo Vuma and Thabang Ntshanana. A Project W member, Zuhayr Tayob, was also in attendance.

The meeting first voted for the executive positions, including president, with PYA members taking the top five slots with little protest from Project W.

“What do they expect me to do, teach yoga?”

However, 20 minutes into the meeting an argument erupted during a debate over portfolios. Both the PYA and Project W had proposed new portfolios for the SRC and motivated for them during the meeting.

Verachia then moved to have a vote on the portfolios, however Mighti objected saying there should be an open debate over the proposed portfolios before the vote.

Verachia responded that both organisations had already motivated for the proposed portfolios and further debate was not needed.

After another brief exchange between the participants, Verachia again moved for a vote resulting in the Project W members gathering their belongings and walking out of the meeting.

“We walked out because it was an illegitimate forum. They are not allowed to dictate positions to us, and this was an unjust abuse of power,” Mighti said.

Verachia adjourned the meeting after the walkout and Mgudlwa successfully attempted to convince the Project W members to return to the meeting.  Verachia then cited SRC rules governing meetings and reconvened the meeting with the remaining SRC members.

“The PYA have chosen to dictate positions to us instead. Positions which we will not agree too because they are redundant white elephants which is a betrayal to students’ needs,” Mighti said.

Mighti, who was made the Campus Wellness officer, said his position was redundant because there were already university structures to help student health.

“What do they expect me to do, teach yoga?” he asked.

Mighti said they would lay a complaint about the meeting with university authorities. Failing that, they would seek an interdict at the South Gauteng High Court to overturn the outcome of the meeting.

Vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib said he was “gathering information” about the situation.

Verachia said the PYA were preparing a statement in response to Project W’s walkout and subsequent accusations. However, it had not been sent to Wits Vuvuzela as of our print deadline.

Project W walk out of first SRC meeting

I PUT IT TO YOU: After Project W walked out of the SRC meeting, former SRC president, Sibulele Mgudlwa (Right) had a chat with Project W member, Jamie Mighti (left) who contested the procedure in which the meeting was conducted. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

I PUT IT TO YOU: Speaking to former SRC president, Sibulele Mgudlwa (Right) after Project W walked out of the SRC meeting, Project W member Jamie Mighti (left) contested the procedure in which the meeting was conducted.                                                                                                                                                                                            Photo: Nqobile Dludla

The first meeting of the newly elected Student Representative Council (SRC) held earlier today was declared an “illegitimate forum” by Project W members who subsequently walked out. The allocation of portfolios to new members continued after the walkout and was done entirely by members of the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance).

At the start of the meeting which took place in Senate House, Project W’s Jamie Mighti objected to the process of voting for new portfolio holders and instead called for a discussion about the portfolios.

Mighti argued that the meeting “is governed by laws of the SRC constitution.” “According to the law, we are supposed to contest (the new proposed portfolios) and deliberate and not just go on a vote”, he said.

Outgoing SRC President Shafee Verachia who was chairing the meeting, denied Mighti’s request and started the process of voting. In objection, all six Project W members gathered their things and walked out.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela after the meeting, Mighti said: “We walked out because it was an illegitimate forum. They (PYA) are not allowed to dictate positions to us, and this was unjust abuse of power. They disregarded the SRC rules and procedures and refused to recognise them.”

Verachia adjourned the meeting after the walkout and reconvened it after a short break with the remaining SRC members, in accordance with rules governing meetings of the SRC. The PYA then nominated Project W members for vacant portfolios after key portfolios were filled.

Mighti said his organisation regard the portfolios allocated to them by PYA as “null and void” as Project W did not decide on them nor accept them.

“Because they did not discuss them or even deliberate them, they are playing with students’ lives. The portfolios proposed are white elephants. They are redundant positions which do not allow us to help students to our full potential”, said Mighti.

Project W told Wits Vuvuzela that they intend to lodge an official complaint with the university, and if the university refuses to recognise their complaint, they “will get a high court interdict from the high court, making today’s meeting completely illegitimate and reversing any outcomes that were decided upon”.

2014/2015 SRC Portfolios

President: Mcebo Dlamini

Vice President: Shaeera Kalla

Secretary General: Senzekahle Mbokazi

Deputy Secretary: Amogelang  Manganyi

Treasurer: Mthuthuzeli Mahlangu

Students and Legal Services: Waseem Talia

Academic: Fasiha Hassan

Projects, Media and Campaign: Blaise Koetsie

CSO and Student Governance: Omhle Ntshingila

Research and Policy: Enhle Khumalo

Campus wellness: Jamie Mighti

Transformation: Thamsanqa Pooe

Social and Community Development: Kabelo Murray

Strategic Planning: Gwinyai Dube

International Affairs: Tanya Otto

SRC president decision delayed

A meeting to select the next president of the Student Representative Council (SRC) has been delayed. The meeting would have also decided on other executive positions as well specific portfolios.

The meeting was supposed to take place tomorrow during lunch where the SRC president and executive committee members were to be discussed and decided upon by the newly elected SRC, comprising Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Project W members.

Project W’s Jamie Mighti confirmed that an SMS was sent out to the SRC members which said the meeting was delayed as some of the SRC members were “unable to make tomorrow’s meeting”.

The president and executive members of the SRC are decided by a vote of the 15 SRC members and the four members appointed from external committees and councils.

The PYA won the majority of the seats in this year’s SRC elections and so will likely be the ultimate decision-makers of the SRC president, executive members and portfolio holders.

SRC Election turnout drops

Great Hall_side

 

Turnout for the SRC elections dropped to about 23% this year over a two-day voting period, falling slightly short of the organiser’s target.

The SRC Election Office had set a goal of 25% of student participation for the 2014 election. However, organisers said they were pleased with the result despite falling short.

“We definitely did better this year with 23.1% over two days in comparison to 24% in three days last year… We’re happy with the percentage we received,” said deputy chief electoral officer Nicole Msomi.

However, Msomi conceded that turnout could have been better, “There’s always room for improvement.”

Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) candidate Mcebo Dlamini said that the low turnout of students to vote is due to the lack of advertising from the election office saying “it’s not doing its job”.

However, Dlamini added that student leaders also had responsibility for political apathy and low turnout among the student community.

“Student activism in the university went down drastically…which means we are no longer relevant to the students, we are losing the masses,” he said.

Msomi believes that her office did its job and that it was up to the candidates to promote themselves and their parties.

“The IEC is responsible for putting up banners and letting students know how to vote, we also gave out booklets.  The candidates market for their parties.”

Dlamini said he had heard “funny” reasons for students not voting:  “The funniest reason I got was that, “I am doing mathematics, thus I don’t vote” but most generally, people complain of the queue or that they are busy and others just say, “I’m not into politics” but others don’t understand why people have to vote, they just don’t see the reason why they have to vote.”

However, Project W candidate Jamie Mighti believes that students understand the importance of voting but the reasons why they choose not to vote is due to the way student politics play out as a “theatre of the absurd”.

“We have turned politics into theatre of the absurd, students are genuinely concerned about the issues, [but] when they see their leaders playing politics with their lives they get on with their daily business.”

Despite the low number and demotivation of some students to vote, some Wities understood the importance of voting.

Mzwanele Ntswanti 2nd year actuarial science, said, “It’s important to vote regardless of who to vote for, it is a right that we should all protect. Some students are not voting because they are indifferent between the three organisations, others are based on religious beliefs and other do not understand.”

The SRC election results will be announced on Thursday afternoon on the Great Hall steps.

VIDEO: Why some Witsies did not vote in SRC elections

While many Witsies took to the polls to vote in this year’s SRC elections, there were other students who expressed no interest in the movement. Wits Vuvuzela caught up with these students to find out the issues that lead to these students not voting.

 

 

 

PYA counting on track record for votes

TRIED & TESTED: Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) candidate Mcebo Dlamini convincing students to vote for the "very same leadership that has been with you through thick and thin". Dlamini assured students that no amount of insults will take away the PYA from students. Dlamini was addressing a crowd of students at one of the  lunch circuses held outside the  Wits Great Hall. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

TRIED & TESTED: Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) candidate Mcebo Dlamini tries to convince students to vote for the “very same leadership that has been with you through thick and thin”. Dlamini was addressing a crowd of students at one of the lunch circuses held outside the Wits Great Hall.  Photo: Nqobile Dludla

 

The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) continues to maintain it will dominate the 2014/2015 Student Representatives Council (SRC) owing to its track record ahead of the elections this week.

The PYA believes Witsies will send the votes their way as the “tried and tested party,” despite criticisms from their opponents that they (PYA) are far too reliant on their historical achievements.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, PYA candidate Amogelang Manganyi said: “As a tried and tested party, we are still relevant”. “When I speak about us being tried and tested, it speaks to the notion of candidate for candidate, experience for experience, organisation for organisation, we’ve been here the longest, and we know how things work”, said Manganyi.

Among other critics of the PYA, Valentine Ndlovu, 2nd year BA who wasn’t moved by the history lesson given by the PYA at Monday night’s circus at the Highfield Dining Hall pointed out how much the PYA “usually talk about what [they’ve] done” and challenged the organisation on what it’s planning to do for students.

“Rehashing history isn’t really viable. We need to keep up with the times. We can’t always go back to the stuff that you’ve done”, said Patience Raidani, 1st year BA.

Zimbali Mncube who is also in 1st year said you must “re-articulate interests, you cant keep tracking old interests, that yesterday I did this. People want new interests, you must rejuvenate those interests”.

Thabiso Funde 1st year BA felt that as a first year she doesn’t know the PYA’s track record and therefore is interested in what they are offering.

“As first years we don’t know exactly what you [PYA] did and we can’t go off by assumptions that you [PYA] guys did this and that’s going to carry on. We need to know what you [PYA] are offering”, said Funde.

Project W who occupied SRC seats for the first time last year, have also challenged PYA’s “tried and tested” slogan, claiming that “PYA makes superficial promises that don’t (sic) hold water”.

“Straw houses built by competitor’s burn down. The PYA makes superficial promises that don’t hold water and fall apart as straw houses fall when set on fire”, said Project W candidate Kabelo Murray.

Who will occupy the seats?

Despite being challenged by critics and the arrival of the Wits EFF, the PYA is “confident” that the SRC will remain a PYA-led SRC ahead of the elections.

“I think generally students trust the Progressive Youth Alliance however when it comes to elections, you can never be certain because last year we were certain that we were going to get all 15 seats and we didn’t,” said Ntshanana.

Ntshanana also added that he doesn’t “think the [Wits] EFF have penetrated the space, they have been on campus for less than 6 months and I think what students want to know is what you have done for them which is a question that the [Wits] EFF cannot answer because they haven’t done anything”.

Wits EFF member, Tshepo Goba thinks otherwise. Goba claims that they “have raised the bar and brought in a new brand of politics” to Wits.

“As the [Wits] EFF we have raised the bar, we brought in a new brand of politics, we stuck to our guns even when we are being labelled as backward and racist and anti-progressive. It’s really up to the students”, said Goba.

Project W who are also confident about retaining SRC seats based on their “hard work” and “growth”, said: “We will definitely get seats and we will make a difference when we go to the SRC and we have the students that we serve to thank above everything”, said Project W candidate Thamsanqa Pooe.

 

UPDATE: Student organisations unite to challenge revised residence admissions policy

THE CRY: Nkululeko Nkosi of the PYA striking along side the Project W and Wits EFF outside Mens Res while waiting for the leaders of the three parties to reach an agreement about the revised residence admission policy, last night.   Photo by: Lutho Mtongana

THE CRY: PYA candidate Nkululeko Nkosi strikes alongside  Project W and Wits EFF outside Mens Res while waiting for the leaders of the three parties to reach an agreement about the revised residence admission policy last night.                 Photo by: Lutho Mtongana

By Nqobile Dludla and Lutho Mtongana

The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and some of members of the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) along with members of house committees and the SRC marched to the international affairs office this morning to demand a response from Wits Vice -chancellor, Prof Adam Habib about their concerns on a revised residence admissions policy.

 

Habib met the dozens of protestors to receive the memorandum that was jointly written last night by the PYA, Wits EFF, house committees and the current SRC.

The memoranda states: “We as concerned students, social leaders and student representatives say that the time is ripe to demand the university keep students interests at the forefront and not impose policies that will affect our lives adversely, without any consultation or vigorous engagement.”

“We told him that it is unacceptable that issues that relate to students are not properly discussed and debated with students before an actual policy is taken into consideration of being drafted”, said PYA candidate Shaeera Kalla.

Habib told the students that he would meet them to offer his response to the memorandum later in the day. The meeting will be held at Mens Residence common room at 2:30 pm.

 

Original Story

Competing candidates and organisations for this year’s SRC (Students Representatives Council), elections race were united last night in a bid to challenge the Wits University revised residence admissions policy which aims for a more cosmopolitan university at the expense of disadvantaged students.

The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), Project W, and the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), along with the house committee and the current SRC , will occupy the international affairs boardroom from 9am today to challenge the recommendations of the policy, according to outgoing SRC President Shaffee Verachia.

Verachia said the group will draft a memorandum and hand it over to Wits Vice Chancellor, Prof Adam Habib.

The revised residence admission policy, which Habib referred to at a recent townhall meeting, states: “for new first-year undergraduates to make campus accommodation more accessible and appealing to all students, especially those who have a good academic record”. In addition, the policy states that: “[It] will ensure a diverse and cosmopolitan residence environment in which everyone can feel at home and can succeed academically.”

According to Mens Residence chairperson, and PYA candidate, Keoagile Matseke: “Some of the recommendations outlined in the document, we felt that were disadvantaging certain students. We felt that the management tries to achieve the cosmopolitan agenda at the expense of other students.”

At last night’s meeting, Verachia announced that: “ All three structures (PYA, Project W and Wits EFF) further accept that there may be a call to boycott SRC elections if tomorrow our voices fall on deaf ears.”

“We felt that the management tries to achieve the cosmopolitan agenda at the expense of other students”

Project W disagrees with process

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela after the meeting, Project W’s Jamie Mighti said while his organisation agrees with the rejection of the policy, they disagree with the manner in which the issue is being addressed.

Speaking on behalf of Project W, Mighti said, “We disagree with a protocol, we disagree with the process. As Project W we cannot support something we haven’t seen, we haven’t engaged our minds with, we haven’t spoken with our constituencies about.”

He added, “We are united around student issues, when they are genuine, this is a genuine student issue but we don’t think the way it’s being articulated is genuine. There’s a process before we follow these things. We can’t make a hasty decision as an organisation.”

SRC elections evening circuses halted

TRANSFORMATION AT PLAY: Wits EFF candidate Brian Sibanda at the SRC circus outside the FNB Building on Wednesday, giving closing remarks about transformation through creating sports for the disabled and changing the names. Photo: Lutho Mtongana

TRANSFORMATION AT PLAY: Wits EFF candidate Brian Sibanda at the SRC circus outside the FNB Building on Wednesday, giving closing remarks about transformation through creating sports for the disabled and changing the names. Photo: Lutho Mtongana

By Nqobile Dludla and Lutho Mtongana

SRC ELECTIONS are well underway but, unlike in previous years, candidates will no longer be able to campaign in the evenings in dining halls with the cancellation of evening circuses.

According to chief electoral officer Jabu Mashinini, evening circuses in dining halls during dinner hours is not allowed because it disturbs students from eating peacefully.

Campus housing director Rob Sharman said it was “long-standing policy that election circuses in dining halls are not held during meal times.”

Holding circuses after dinner hours, after 8pm, was also shot down by the SRC election office because it would be an unwelcome distraction during study times.

“We are considering student academics. When are they going to study if we start at 8pm and finish at 10pm? So that’s the reason why we cancelled the evening circuses,” said Mashinini.

Sharman said that while two dining halls, Main and Highfield, only close at 8pm this was not the case for all dining halls.

“The other four dining halls close at 7pm, as they always have, so election circuses can start earlier in those venues,” Shaman said.

Sharman said a proposed circus at Noswal Hall would have clashed with a previously planned Women’s Month event at the residence.

“So the circus obviously had to give way to the residence event. I have not seen any proposed alternative date for the circus,” Sharman said.

“What was beneficial about these evening circuses is that we target students that are not usually around during the day. For us not to be afforded that opportunity is really a shame.”

The decision to call off the evening circuses came as a surprise to candidates who arrived on Tuesday for the first scheduled evening circus, meant to take place at Convocation dining hall, only to learn it was cancelled.

Reaction from candidates

Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) election management committee chairperson Lesego Mokwena said the cancellation of evening circuses was “a shame” and would make it more difficult to get Witsies to turn out and vote.

The PYA felt that “not having evening circuses is really a shame” because they were also campaigning to encourage Witsies to actually vote.

“The issue of us not having evening circuses is really a shame because apart from trying to promote your manifesto, the first thing we try to do is to actually get the Wits students to actually go vote,” Mokwena said.

“What was beneficial about these evening circuses is that we target students that are not usually around during the day. For us not to be afforded that opportunity is really a shame.”

After the cancellation of the Tuesday circus, the ended up campaigning door-to-door at West Campus residences, David Webster Hall and Barnato Hall.

Project W candidate Gwinyai Dube said the cancellation was due to “a disconnect that exists between management structures and students.”

“It’s disappointing to limit the political process like that just because some guy sitting in the office somewhere is thinking for the students. Just because I’m eating doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear what someone has to say,” Dube said.

Sharing the same sentiment, Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) felt that the student community should have been consulted before a decision to cancel the circuses was made.

“It should have been consultative to find out from students which do they prefer because some have tutorials during lunch time and are missing out on lunch circuses,” said Wits EFF candidate Anele Nzimande.

“It’s a huge disadvantage because evening circuses bring everyone together, so everyone is in the same place and you don’t have to go door-to-door giving people your manifesto one-by-one. Now we are missing out on that opportunity, we are missing out on so many people,” added Nzimande.

However, Nzimande said that the cancellation of the evening circuses won’t tarnish their effort to reach more students as new members.

First week of campaigning 

The SRC elections officially began on Monday with a lunchtime SRC Great Debate held in the Great Hall. It was the first time the PYA, Project W and Wits EFF were able to present their manifestos to students who packed into the large venue.

Transformation on campuses and residences was a common issue raised by all three parties. Wits EFF called for changing the names of campus buildings to honour African leaders while the PYA said it was committed to transformation “at all levels”.

Project W countered by saying their candidate list was the most transformed because it was the most “representative” of the parties.

This issue of representativity came up at the Wednesday lunch debate, when first-year student Dan Peter, Bcom Law and Economics, challenged the PYA on its diversity asking if the organisation is “a representative party which can represent me as a white student in this university?”

PYA candidate Fasiha Hassan responded that the PYA advocated transformation on all levels on campus and defended the diversity of their candidates.

“If you look at all these people [PYA candidates], we have our candidates from all campuses and all religions,” Hassan said.

Day circuses will still take place during lunch at respective venues while organisations will organise their own evening campaign sessions.

 

Circus Schedule

Wits EFF’s proposal to name-change buildings, receives backlash

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GIVE US A CHANCE: Among other things, Wits EFF proposed to change the names of residences and some buildings in the name of transformation. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

By Lutho Mtongana and Nqobile Dludla

A proposal to change the names of campus buildings by political new kids in the block, Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was welcomed with backlashes at the SRC General Elections Great Debate today.

Wits EFF chairperson, Vuyani Pambo, said they  aim to change the names of buildings on campus to honour those of “Africa’s heroes” including the Great Hall which served as the venue for the debate.

“I think it’s important that we locate ourselves so that we know where we are sitting, we are in Africa by the way but the buildings around us do not signify that … You would think in a university where [Robert] Sobukwe lectured, that hall will bear that powerful man’s name on it,” said Pambo.

Wits EFF candidate, Cathrine Seabe, said the party is “planning to help the VC with his 2020 vision of making wits university a more cosmopolitan university”. She said the Wits EFF would also work to racially integrate the campus.

“We are going to do this through university residences, that’s where it starts, we still don’t have enough students in university residences, we still don’t have enough racial groups,” said Seabe.

One of the PYA candidates rebutted the EFF’s name changing plan for some Wits buildings, saying “next thing you know they [Wits EFF] will change [the name] Mens Res to Julius Malema”.

Also disagreeing with Wits EFF’s vision, Project W said that the university has bigger problems than changing names of buildings on campus, arguing that there lot of students who are being academically excluded. They made the accusation that the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA)-led SRC “waits for students to fail first before helping them fight academic exclusion.”

Project W’s statement drew the ire of the PYA whose supporters threw their hands in the air in disagreement, chanting “Hhayi hhayi, unamanga!” [No, no, you are lying!].

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela after the debate, Seabe said she felt that their proposals as the EFF was dismissed. She said they were not given an opportunity to engage with the students and elaborate on their points.

“We didn’t necessarily get the engagement that we wanted, not only from the other parties as well but from the audience [too] … We are coming around as the new kids in the block asking them to give us a chance,” Seabe said.

The debate held at the Great Hall was to introduce students to the 2014/2015 SRC candidates.

Tomorrow, a round of circuses at residences and other campus buildings will begin where candidates will debate each other and take questions from students on their grievances and issues.

Independent candidates pull out of SRC elections

PSOM OUT: Independent candidates under Positive State Of Mind (PSOM) pulled out of SRC elections as they felt the organisation needs more time to establish itself.    Photo: Nqobile Dludla

PSOM OUT: Independent candidates under Positive State Of Mind (PSOM) pulled out of the SRC elections as they felt the organisation needs more time to establish itself.                                   Photo: Nqobile Dludla

A group of independent candidates have pulled out of the SRC election campaign as it felt it hasn’t been firmly established on campus.

With campaigning due to start on Monday, independent candidates under Positive State of Mind (PSOM) withdrew as they felt the organisation needs more time to establish itself.

“Most of our activities on campus were done outside campus. So this is not pulling out completely but a mature decision to give ourselves a year to let everyone know who we are before we actually decide to run,” said PSOM vice chairperson Roland Nzanzu.

PSOM had nine candidates running for the elections. They are no longer on the SRC Election candidate list.

The only organisations left are the Economic Freedom Fighters, Project W and the Progressive Youth Alliance. Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (Daso) members are still “secretly” running under other organisations.

PYA said they are “confident” about the elections.

“We are confident as the Progressive Youth Alliance that through the work we have done as a collective for students in the past up to date, as well as the work that we still wish to do for the students in the future, that our candidates will be able to rally the support of the students of Wits University,” said Wits branch South African Student Congress (Sasco) chairperson, Nompendulo Mkatshwa.

Project W believe they “are ready to take it to the next level and be the governing organisation at Wits University”.

“Project W feels that we are the most relevant platform for creating real change at the University. As a collective of independent non-partisan student organisation we cut out the middle man and the external political agenda of our counterparts. We believe that we are ready to take it to the next level and be the governing organisation at Wits University,” said Project W member, Zuhayr Tayob.

UPDATED Candidate list

FINAL LIST2

FINAL LIST

 

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