Project W SRC members in transformation flap

SRC members Thamsanqa Pooe and Tanya Otto have been accused of not receiving permission to do an interview on news channel ANN7 on behalf of Transform Wits and the Wits SRC. 

Two Project W SRC members  have received flak from the SRC leadership and a transformation group at Wits who have accused the duo of misrepresenting their organisations in a television interview on ANN7.

Thamsanqa Pooe and Tanya Otto did the interview on Straight Talk with Ralph Mathekga this past Sunday. They spoke on issues of transformation and activist organisation Transform Wits.

The SRC claims that they were not informed that two of its members would be doing an interview on transformation at Wits this past weekend. Transform Wits and RhodesMustFall also tweeted the Wits SRC to express their dissatisfaction.

Transform Wits member Fatima Mukaddam said the movement feels offended by Pooe and Otto and accused them of speaking for her organisation.

“As a former SRC member I believe that Thami’s actions were disrespectful towards the rest of the SRC,” Mukaddam said.

She added that Pooe and Otto were also not the right people to be interviewed about the transformation about Wits because they were ill-formed about the subject.

“They did not know the statistics which was embarrassing and problematic,” said Mukaddam.

SRC deputy president Shaeera Kalla said that Transform Wits should have been interviewed, not any SRC members. “The SRC endorses the views expressed by Transform Wits but we are not leading the movement,” she said.

The RhodesMustFall movement at the University of Cape Town also tweeted its displeasure about Pooe and Otto’s interview to the Wits SRC, prompting the SRC to distance itself from the Project W members.

“There were complaints from the Rhodes Must Fall movement … It was legitimate for the SRC to distance themselves,” Kalla said.

DISTANCED FROM SRC: Thamsanqa Pooe one of the SRC members  who failed to follow protocol concerning interviews.

DISTANCED FROM SRC: Thamsanqa Pooe is one of the SRC members who failed to follow protocol concerning interviews. photo: file photo

Pooe admited that he was wrong by not informing the SRC and Transform Wits about the interview but doesn’t feel he should have been criticised publically on Twitter. “I made a mistake but there was no need for the public isolation,” he said.

Pooe, who is the SRC transformation officer, said that he and Otto did not contradict any views that were already aligned to the SRC and Transform Wits and he would not apologise anything said during the interview.

On Wednesday, repsponding to criticism on Twitter, Otto defended herself an accused the Progressive Youth Alliance, who form the majority on the SRC, of double standards.

“If PYA members did the same thing and received the same hate, SRC would be defending them,” Otto said.

Transform Wits

Transform Wits was started last month by Politics postgraduate students. However, Pooe said that he had started a movement called “Transformation Wits”. He said his views were aligned withTransform Wits.

But Kalla scoffed at Pooe’s group. “Nobody knows about Thami’s organisation,” she said.

Abiding by protocol

According to Kalla, Pooe and Otto did not abide by the rules set out by the SRC for public announcements, whether on behalf of the SRC or their own private capacity. However, she said the SRC does not plan to take disciplinary action against the two.


Survivor: ANN7 edition

BROADCAST CONFESSIONS: Lebogang Molefe chose her studies over a job at ANN7.                Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

BROADCAST CONFESSIONS: Lebogang Molefe chose her studies over a job at ANN7. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

A Witsie is the latest member of the African News Network 7 (ANN7) to leave Gupta Island, less than a month after the 24-hour channel was launched.

Lebogang Molefe, 2nd year International Relations and Politics, submitted her resignation on Monday following a contractual conflict.  Molefe was hired in July as a weather anchor for the weekend news programme, Morning Time, after a two-day audition process supervised by television personality Gerry Elsdon.


Molefe was chosen out of 30 female hopefuls. She said she resigned after she was asked to work a five-day week instead of the three days she had agreed to.  “There is no bad blood between me and ANN7. I just can’t work during the week because of school,” explained Molefe.

Molefe said following the technical glitches and the media scrutiny that the channel received, a number of the employees hired as anchors decided to leave.  Their departure resulted in other anchors, like her, having to work “double shifts”. Molefe said she was asked to audition while doing promotional work.  She said that while most of the female anchors had modelling or promotional backgrounds she was not just a “pretty face”.

[pullquote]There is no bad blood between me and ANN7[/pullquote]

Molefe said the anchors had little input in news stories and some of the anchors did not know who the news editors were. “You’d arrive, get your hair and make-up done, practise your script, go on air and then you go home. That’s just how it was there. The news anchor has no say on the stories that were being written.”

Rigid structure 

Molefe, who is a former VoW FM news reader, said regardless of the rigid structure she would submit suggestions for news stories. Molefe said anchors do rehearse their scripts but the technical team made it difficult to execute bulletins effectively.

“Most of the technical team is from India, which makes it difficult to understand their instructions because of their dialect.” Molefe said businessman Atul Gupta was “very hands on” and she saw him every day. She said parts of the station were still under construction but that this did not disrupt broadcasting.  “I have a lot of hope in ANN7, mistakes happen when something is new,” Molefe said.