The results of the 2015 Wits Student Representative Council elections were announced and the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) won with 12 seats of the 15 seats available.
Earlier today Vice Principal Professor Andrew Crouch announced that the PYA won 12 of the 15 seats available. With Project W winning the remaining 3.
Electoral Officer Jabu Mashinini announced that there were 6973 valid votes, 688 spoilt ballots and the total turn out of students that voted this year was 7 661, 469 people more than the 7 192 total votes received in 2014.
In last year’s election (2014/2015) the PYA won 9 seats with Project W winning 6 seats. As with last years election both the Wits EFF and the Democratic Alliance’s Student Organization (DASO) did not receive any seats.
Thamsanqa Pooe, who was running for re-election received the highest number of votes at 3517 votes even though his party (Project W) did not win the election.
Obett Motaung and Lesego Mokwena, both of the Progressive Youth Alliance, received the least number of votes at 2705 votes each.
The current SRC’s Deputy President Omhle Ntshingila said “We are overly excited, the elections went well, they were fair and square. Students are in safe hands”.
A disappointed Thamsanqa Pooe said he that even though there were only 3 Project W members in the SRC, he was certain that students wouldn’t lose out. “In as much as there’s only 3 of us in the SRC, its 3 of our strongest candidates. 3 of the most genuine guys. 3 of the most hard working guys”, Pooe said.
Newly elected education student Ontiretse Phetlu said this win would definitely benefit the often forgotten education campus students, “I want to affirm to them (education students) that their voices will be represented…its the first step, I hope that they will take our victory as an inspiration” Phetlu said.
DASO’s Odwa Abraham says as an organisation their main mandate in this year’s election was to re-introduce themselves to the student community. ” Our plan this year was to be visible because we ‘disappeared’ last year. We are very happy with how things turned out, the response of the students was positive…so we achieved our mandate”, Abraham said.
Here is the list of the 15 candidates, the number of votes they received and their parties (in order of highest votes):
Spiros the Goat has surfaced amid this year’s run-up to the SRC election campaign. He has taken to Twitter to express his views and opinions about the elections as well as Wits University with his catch phrase #ramming. Also known as candidate 47, Spiros has titled himself the “New kid on the Block” with posters and graffiti around campus. Spiros recently made time from his busy schedule to speak to Wits Vuvuzela.
Why should people vote for Spiros?
A vote for Spiros is a vote against voting.
What does Spiros stand for in the elections?
Spiros is a goat that embodies a collective subjectivity grounded in an earnest politics of irony and the absurd. Spiros wishes to bring to bare the ridiculous and depressing nature of representative democracy where political action is reduced to drawing two intersecting lines in the alienated labour power of a fetishized piece of paper (Spiros is aware that the power is in the worker and not in the commodity).
Spiros is an Act, in the Zizekean sense, where political action involves smashing the nascent totalitarian nature of late capitalist
society and rebuilding in on the basis of a ramolutionary subjectivity.
Who do you support in the elections?
Will you be voting in the SRC, if so for who?
Eat the ballot paper.
What’s it like being a goat at Wits?
WITS University is an anti-goat, anti-black, heteronormative, patriarchal, techno-fascist institution. Spiros’ positionality within
WITS is existentially precarious. It’s difficult being a goat when the grass tastes like Capitalist VW excrement. Spiros is currently reading Sartre and Althusser, in tandem (SIGH!).
Where does the name Spiros come from?
Spiros, as a signifier, does not signify Spiros’ essence but merely signifies it for other signifiers (Jacques Lacan).
Are all goats treated equal at Wits?
Spiros believes that Orwell gives a poor critique of leftist-totalitarianism, read “The Joke” by Kundera instead.
What do you thinks about the expulsions of the seven Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members?
The expulsion is indicative of the totalitarian nature of the Habib regime and how power relations are skewed against black students and workers on campus. Spiros feels that the exclusion of students signifies a concerted effort to limit the essentially common and public realm of higher learning. Spiros says LIBERATE the common!
However, using Spiros’ Marxist-Leninist-Fanonian-Zhdanovian tools of analysis, Spiros notes that there is a profound contradiction in an organisation that calls itself ‘revolutionary’, seeking recognition from bourgeois institutions. Spiros is disgusted by reformism, and while sympathetic to much of what the EFF stands for, cannot stand as a supporter of closet reformism.
Do you think there is freedom of speech at Wits University?
Spiros deplores this kind of liberal discourse around individual rights. Spiros is not Francois Hollande. It is Spiros’ view that
freedom and the notion of a ‘voice,’ in the political, is only expressed through a ramolutional collectivity. Sorry Daryl Glaser.
Do you consider yourself an artist after you put graffiti on campus?
“Art is going elsewhere, and politics has to catch up.” – Jacques Ranciere
Do you support the graffiti messages?
Support is an arbitrary, bourgeois conviction. Just like graffiti.
Since its Women’s month, what is your stance on violence against women?
It is Spiros’ view that Women’s month merely upholds the patriarchy. “Life” in this “society” being, at best, an utter bore, Spiros does not understand how Spiros is supposed to have a stance on such. Ram the patriarchy. Duh.
When you’re not running for the SRC what do you do in your spare time?
Spiros is quite the gastronomist – Spiros’ Lonmin CEO soufflé is to die for.
With DASO being occasionally mocked on social media and at circuses leading up to the SRC elections this year many are wondering, what’s the deal with DASO?
DASO who?: Floyd Nyalungu explaining why DASO is the way it is at Wits. Taken at Medical Campus during elections earlier this week. Photo: Tanisha Heiberg
It’s the last circus before the SRC elections, a Project W member got up to tell the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) that he thought it was “cute” that they are trying to run.
The comment shows the dismissive attitude that many student politicians have towards the DASO candidates, as the organisation has struggled to gain any traction during this election.
When DASO’s campaign manager, Floyd Nyalungu, was asked about this particular incident he laughed and joked that “other students even call us ‘DASO The Legacy” in reference to the popular TV soapie Generations, now known Generations The Legacy.
But Nyalungu, PG Law, is looking on the bright side, “cute represents something good”, he said.
DASO have only six candidates running for SRC while rival organisations Project W and the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) each have a full slate of 15.
One of the points raised at the circus was the view that DASO is ‘dying’ and Nyalungu attributes this to their lack of visibility. “The reason people say DASO is dying is because they didn’t see it on campus and that is because previous structures could not coordinate activities.”
Nyalungu added that the graduation of some executive members on an annual basis has affected the depth of leadership of the organisation.
“The important part is that we are here now and if we see a problem why not try and address that issue.”
Despite Nyalungu positive outlook, many Wits students seem to feel sorry for the organisation. The DASO tent has been a point they have been mocked and criticised when some people noticed that it appeared to be a DA tent with an additional “SO” handwritten in white paint.
But Nyalungu said that what looked haphazard was a conscious decision so students can see where they come from and who they are.
“Most student didn’t know what DASO is, but there is branding for DASO … and I believe next year we will actually be using our DASO gazebo,” Nyalungu said.
Even with the eventful lead up to these elections—loud debates, fights, scuffles and lawsuits—DASO seems to be missing from the action, a move that Nyalungu said is part of their philosophy.
“I remember even at the Great Hall when people were fighting we were just sitting there, just folding our arms, but ja that’s how we believe leadership should be. When you have a problem you sit down and solve the issue instead of physically confronting each other,” said Nyalungu.
“We are hoping we can share much of the office with Project W and [the Progressive Youth Alliance], but unfortunately EFF is not here,” he said.
When asked how they have been experiencing the reaction to DASO running for SRC again he said it was very “positive”. Nyalungu said there have even been calls made to the Cape Town office asking where DASO Wits is.
The first day of the Wits SRC elections kicked off yesterday without any incident following a week characterised by disruptions, suspensions and cancellations.
The first leg of the Wits SRC (Student Representative Council) elections kicked off at the med school and education campuses without incident yesterday. This despite threats ealier in the week from from EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) chairperson, Advocate Dali Mpofu. Mpofu, speaking at Wits on August 24, promised to establish a team that would disrupt the elections if the suspensions of the Wits EFF members were not lifted.
Wits Campus Control officers at the polling booths (who refused to be named), told Wits Vuvuzela before voting started that they were not expecting any disruptions.
Representatives of the various student parties were present at both voting stations and actively encouraged voters to vote for their parties.
The initial voter turnout was slow but picked up over the course of the day.
Phumlile Motloung, first year BEd, said she voted because the current SRC helped her with things such as accommodation, food and she feels that by voting, she will be doing her bit.
Alexander Loukakis, BEd, said he’s voting because it’s his right and he believes that by voting he will know who to turn to if he ever needs help.
Some students were not keen to vote however as they felt their campuses are generally overlooked.
Chris Dube, 5th year MBBCh, said, “I’m not actually voting because I’m sure the SRC does do stuff for other students but they are not visible here on medical campus”.
Sne Mkhwanazi, 2nd year MBBCh said, “I don’t think it’s going to do anything for me. They are all making similar promises to us … and I don’t think they are going to fulfil them”.
The elections continue at the education and medical school campuses today, and comes to the main campuses on the 1st and 2nd August 2015.
The Wits SRC has responded to the recent suspensions of seven students by the Wits University Council last night. The Economic Freedom Fighters have also responded arguing the situation is unfair.
Student Representative Council (SRC) president Shaeera Kalla has condemned the Wits University Council’s decision to suspend seven students as well as the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as a recognised club and society.
Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Kalla said that most, but not all, of the seven students suspended were members of the Wits EFF.
Kalla said the actions of the council amounted to student victimisation. “The process of identifying students who have breached code of conducts and then taking disciplinary action against them has been unjustifiably fast tracked by the VC [Vice Chancellor Adam Habib] and this is unacceptable,” she said.
“The VC has suspended seven students with immediate effect a month before exams, this affects their academics and this is an academic institution.”
Kalla criticised the consistency of the university in dealing with matters of misconduct around Tuesday’s SRC debate which descended into a brawl.
“Some organisations who were involved have not been demonized the way in which the EFF has and this is against every principle of accountability, responsibility and transparency,” she said.
Speaking to news channel eNCA earlier today, Wits EFF member Anele Nzimande said that the university used the personal Twitter accounts of Wits EFF members for the investigation which she said was unfair because, “they put a target on your back and they come after you”.
Kalla also commented on the processes of investigation the university used: “The VC cannot decide when he wants to fast track processes and when he wants to follow due process, an investigation into the matter and the extenuating circumstances of how it actually happened must roll out before any judgement is carried out and extrajudicial processes should not be used as is the case here.”
Nzimande also said the university was hypocritical over matters of “rules, law and authority” and accused it of violating labour law in relation to workers in the Matrix and Campus Control.
“Wits has this moral high ground that they are law abiding citizens, they follow the rules and they can judge when students are deviating from the rules, when they are not following the law themselves,” she told ENCA.
In an official statement released by EFF acting national spokesperson, Fana Mokoena, the party said it was suspicious of the timing of the suspensions, suggesting they were the result of political interference. “We also know that the university is being controlled by politicians who are determined to kill the EFF and its footprint from the university. It is not the first time this apartheid university has mistreated our members.” Read the full statement here.
Wits EFF secretary Mbe Mbhele took to Twitter to voice out his dismay at their suspension, “First thing I thought of when I was told to vacate the university is my mother. My suspension reminded me that SA is a fatherless nation.”
The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said on Twitter: “When a university casts a critical student out, it only shows it has lost an argument, refused its duty to educate; thus has failed society.”
The council said in the statement that the university is still investigating the matter.
On Friday the University of the Witswatersrand released a statement around the suspension of students and the exclusion of the Wits EFF society. This comes after a disruption that was initiated by the Wits EFF at the SRC debate which ended in a physical altercation between parties. It was the start of an unusual campaign season.
This year four parties registered to run for the 2016 SRC elections these included the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters, Project W, the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO).
Cancelled SRC debate
Campaigning started off with a bang this year when the annual Student Representative Council (SRC) debate was cancelled after a fight broke out between parties.
Members of the Wits EFF filled the Great Hall stage dancing and chanting “No SRC!” The party continued to disrupt the proceedings of the debate.
The organisers, campus control head of investigations Michael Mahada, and campaign managers then went backstage for an emergency meeting. The group then came out and announced that the debate was cancelled. Chief electoral officer, Thembi Dlamini explained that the cancellation was based on a “collective decision”.
Exceptionally disappointed with the puerile & disruptive actions of Wits EFF. For Pete’s sake debate ideas & win argument through persuasion
Then more confusion hit at what was supposed to be the first campaigning circus for the year. Only the PYA and a few Wits EFF candidates arrived at the FNB building on Wednesday. According to PYA’s Twitter account, supporters were requested to meet at 1:20pm at the FNB building, for an official election circus. But on arrival it seemed that there was no organisation for the event and only a few PYA candidates handing out pamphlets.
A handful of PYA members were handing out pamphlets encouraging students to vote for their party. When asked, the candidates told those that gathered that they were waiting on the party’s officials and the Independent Electoral Committee (IEC), none of whom showed up. PYA representatives told Wits Vuvuzela that, “It seems as though only Project W were made aware of the postponement, because it was only the EFF and the PYA that prepared for today’s circus.”
What seemed at first, to be a defiance of the cancellation to those who knew about it turned into a simple misunderstanding and miscommunication on the part of the candidates and their parties.
We will be at FNB today for the first official election circus, 1:20pm! Come through, meet your PYA candidates and hear why #PYALEADS!
On Thursday the first organised and official campus circus was held at the Matrix on Wits East campus. Students were encouraged to question candidates on issues surrounding party mandates and burning topics related to the university. While at one point the EFF caused a bit of a disruption, all in all the circus went off with no major incidents.
Suspension of Wits EFF and students involved in debate disruption
On Friday the EFF were not at the second circus that was held at the Wits Medical campus. That evening at 6:30pm a statement was emailed to the Wits student body from the Council of the University of the Witwatersrand. The document gave comment on the decisions to suspend the Wits EFF as a society and said some of the students involved in the fighting at the Tuesday debate would be suspended.
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