On your marks, get set, vote

TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE: Students will be updated about online voting processes on October6.                                                                                                                   Photo: Kayleen Morgan

A TOTAL of 71 candidates have been announced for the upcomingStudent Representative Council (SRC) elections which will take place in over a week’s time. This is the longest list of contesting
students to date, according to the Student Governance Office.

Witsies from different political parties and student organisations are excited about these coming elections scheduled for October 17 and 18.
Jabu Mashinini, a senior programme adviser for student governance, said she is verypleased with the number of candidates running because it means that “students are contesting and are interested in the politics and student governance of the university”.

Wits Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO) candidate Hayley Davison said that in the following year she would like to see students from other campuses included in the focus points of the next SRC.
Davison also said she would like to see a more productive approach with regards to challenging issues such as fees and accommodation on campus. She added that student politics and national politics should be separated. “The next SRC should continue to fight for students even if students are not supporters of the mother body,” she said.

While Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) has the least number of candidates running with only three entries, candidate Phetani Madzivhandila said the number of entries is a
good opportunity “to have diverse perspectives in student politics which will allow us to depart from the sole narrative of the Project Youth Alliance (PYA)”.
Though PASMA is pleased with the candidate numbers, Madzivhandila said he had hoped for more time to campaign as candidates only have one week to engage with students.

Independent runner Morerwa Ngwato said that student political groups did not accommodate his personal drive to encourage community projects and entrepreneurship.
“Political parties tend to reiterate the same issues such as free education policies but I want to bring business innovation and a community entrepreneurship component into student governance,” he said.

Wits Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are gunning to win the majority of the seats in the upcoming election according to candidate Sivuyile Mhato. “The reason PYA has governed with a majority for so long is because there hasn’t been progressive contestation,” he said.

For this reason, he said it is good there are many candidates running this year because it means that students are taking themselves seriously and taking governance into their own hands. Mhato encouraged students to vote based on what they see in the manifesto and values of the organisation instead of friends and popular individuals because “populism is what’s killing us”.

An international law student who preferred to remain anonymous said she is not voting because the “SRC uses international students as a campaign strategy but do not cater to their issues once they are elected. I’m tired and so I’m not voting,” she said. [LISTEN] : Wits Vuvuzela asked students if they would be voting in the upcoming elections

Candidates from PYA were unavailable to speak to the media on its prospects for the upcoming elections. Voting for the SRC general elections will be carried
out electronically this year. Mashinini said students will be updated on the processes on Friday afternoon after the candidates have been briefed.

Wits Vuvuzela ran a poll on twitter to find out whether students would be voting in this year’s general SRC elections.  SEE BELOW

 

ELECTIONS: Born to vote

Pre=recorded videos and live streams from the other provinces were projected onto the wall behind the panel. From left to right: Khadija Patel, DJ Fresh, Kagiso Lediga, Shaka Sisulu and facilitator Tumelo Mothotoane. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Pre-recorded videos and live-streams from the other provinces were projected onto the wall behind the panel. From left to right: Khadija Patel, DJ Fresh, Kagiso Lediga, Shaka Sisulu and facilitator Tumelo Mothotoane. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

For a group of people largely labelled apathetic, the youth in attendance at a debate on a Tuesday morning, braving the temperamental and rainy Joburg weather – were anything but apathetic.

Yesterday, JoziHub in Milpark was the venue for the To Vote or not to Vote debate aimed at so-called ‘born-frees’.

Bornfrees stand up

There is a particular fascination with this year’s youth vote as this year the “born-free” generation, children born in 1994, when South Africa became a democracy, will vote for the first time. How they vote and who they plan on voting for are of particular interest because they have grown up in a democratic South Africa.

Leeroy Lefi of the organisers Live magazine said in the past three months they have interviewed a number of born-frees and found that, “we’re not apathetic and have an incredible role to play,” not only in these elections but in steering the country’s future.

The panel consisted of comedian Kagiso Lediga, journalist Khadija Patel (@khadijapatel), DJ and tweleb DJ Fresh (@DJFreshSA) and social activist Shaka Sisulu (@shakasisulu). The panelists were chosen because they are seen as accessible to the youth and their ideas. 

[pullquote]”we’re not apathetic and have an incredible role to play”[/pullquote]

Why should born-frees vote?

Addressing the question, why should born-frees vote, Lediga said: “If you’re not voting, you’re not participating.” DJ Fresh added that participation goes beyond just voting, part of that civic duty is to hold politicians accountable. Sisulu provided an anecdote to explain further: “If you’re dating someone, you can’t see them once every five years – it won’t work, it’s a one night stand then. Put your ballot in the box but make sure to maintain and nurture that relationship over the five years coming.”

The debate was live streamed from Johannesburg to Cape Town and Ginsberg, King Williams Town with questions coming from all three places to the panel. A common complaint from all three provinces was that the youth were never heard. DJ Fresh responded by saying the onus was on political parties to appeal to the youth on their level through channels like twitter and instagram: “Politicians talk at young people and not to them.”

The focus in the latter part of the debate was on what the born-free vote can achieve and individual agency. Patel said, “agency is important – it means having the power within yourself to do something.” The crowd responded well to this and the conversation started to look at ground level solutions and social activism that gear them in that direction.

Lethabo Bogatsu, a self proclaimed born-free said the talk left her feeling empowered and keen to be an active citizen, “I was always going to vote but now I’m not going to stop there. It’s not just the vote and then I’m done. I’m going to work on the relationship, my man is going to be my vote, my political involvement is going to be my man. I’m going to have a relationship there because being single is rough.”

The entire debate can be viewed here.