Bayas’jwayela: Project W’s Jamie Mighti listens on as Progressive Youth Alliance’s (PYA) Tebogo Thothela explains why some SRC portfolios were merged and new ones created. Photo: Ray Mahlaka
By Emelia Motsai and Ray Mahlaka
PROJECT W has accused the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) of shutting it down in a “conniving manner” after Monday’s constitutional meeting that allocated portfolios.
PYA’s Shafee Verachia (@ShafMysta)was elected uncontested as the new SRC president and four other PYA members were voted into executive team portfolios.
Project W did not make it onto the executive team despite winning seven of 15 directly elected seats on the SRC.
The PYA won eight seats but has an additional four seats on the SRC which were elected indirectly.
Consulting SRC portfolio
Project W’s Jamie Mighti (@thenextbarack)said they came to the PYA “with open arms but we were shut down in a systemic, ruthless and conniving manner. Bayas’jwayela [they are disrespecting us]”.
Project W ‘s Jabulile Mabuza (@ceejaymabuza) said it was “clear that they don’t want to work with us”. She said they had been sidelined and called it an “insult to democracy”.
“You are saying people can do whatever they want as long as you have one more vote,” Mabuza said.
Comrades discuss politics via Whatsapp
Wits Vuvuzela was given a copy of a Whatsapp group conversation between some Project W members and the PYA deployment committee made up of current and former SRC members. [pullquote align=”right”]“We would desire Mighti Jamie for the position of VP [vice president] and Jabulile Mabuza for deputy secretary-general,”[/pullquote]
In the conversation, Mighti was asked which portfolios Project W members wanted and who they wanted in those positions. Mighti said Project W wanted himself and Mabuza in executive positions.
“We would desire Mighti Jamie for the position of VP [vice president] and Jabulile Mabuza for deputy secretary-general,” he said.
Mighti said Project W wanted those positions because it would give them representation in meetings only available to members of the executive team.
“We would also be able to put our views to these decision-making bodies [senate, council and convocation].”
SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa (@Sibulele_) asked Mighti: “May I ask: does it matter if [Project] W is not in exec? Will it affect their performance in SRC?”
Mighti responded: “I definitely think it will send the message that our say is not valuable to the decision-making process, we would like a voice at the very least in the university structures.”
Mighti warned that excluding Project W would “create an atmosphere of adversity, in that it is the PYA executive versus the Project W candidates, this may lead to more fractious relations over time.”
Divvying up SRC portfolios
Two new SRC portfolios were created and some were merged. Mighti said they were not consulted on this.
“They came to the meeting, merged all the positions that you think are powerful, not because they are trying to be benevolent but because they are trying to monopolise power,” Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela.
[pullquote]“They came to the meeting, merged all the positions that you think are powerful, not because they are trying to be benevolent but because they are trying to monopolise power”[/pullquote] He accused the PYA of merging positions because they ran out of candidates for the portfolios believed to be influential.
PYA deployment committee member Tebogo Thothela denied Project W’s allegations and said the new portfolios were created regularly.
Thothela said they had spoken to Project W members to ask them which portfolios they would want.
Verachia also defended the portfolio assignments: “A lot of thought went into the portfolios,” he said.
Verachia said Project W’s disappointment was because they may have been “ambitious of the portfolios they wanted”.
Working dynamics between Project W and PYA
Mabuza and Mighti were assigned to the two new portfolios, of campus liaison officer and day student liaison officer respectively. Both said they would do their best to serve students in those portfolios.
Verachia said unifying the team would not happen “over night” but he was ready for the job ahead: “It’s a huge responsibility and I am up for the challenge.”
SRC to divvy up the spoils, September 13, 2013
SRC President announced: The winner takes it all, September 17, 2013
WITH GALLERY: SRC election results – PYA gets a wakeup call, August 30, 2013
WINNING: Progressive Youth Alliance member Shafee Verachia got the most votes in the SRC elections this year. Photo: Mia Swart
By Emelia Motsai and Ray Mahlaka
Project W has been having unofficial “preliminary” meetings with the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) ahead of a meeting to talk about creating an “SRC that works”.
Project W’s Jamie Mighti (@thenextbarack) said a constitutional meeting on Monday would decide who gets what portfolio, so they could come up with a “winning team”.
Mighti said the PYA seemed sincere and interested in helping students, so he felt positive and confident about working together.
Of the 15 seats available on the SRC, the PYA got eight and Project W got seven seats.
Another four positions are indirectly elected and are held by the PYA.
During election campaigning there was often tension between the two organisations.
PYA and Project W SRC members have vowed to put their differences aside and put student issues first.
The top election vote-getter and PYA member Shafee Verachia (@ShafMysta) said they would work with Project W.
“We will have to put personal interests aside and work together. I have faith in working with Project W. We will work hard with Project W,” Verachia told Wits Vuvuzela.
He said he would be happy to serve in any portfolio his organisation decided on.
Mighti also said he would be happy with any portfolio but “I would like to work in academics”.
After the constitutional meeting the new SRC members will shadow the current SRC until they take office in November.
WITH GALLERY: SRC election results – PYA gets a wakeup call, August 30
VIDEO: Wits SRC election Results 2013, August 30
By Thuletho Zwane and Nomatter Ndebele
The SRC elections could soon become a legal battle as the PYA (Progressive Youth Alliance) and Project W take legal action against each other. Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice president internal, has laid an official complaint with the Wits Legal Office following a confrontation with Jamie Mighti, Project W candidate and former debating union chairperson.
The incident that led to the complaint.
[pullquote align=”right”]“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.”[/pullquote]
Nhlapo alleges that Mighti told him to be careful and watch his ways.“He said I must be careful and I am skating on thin ice.This happened when Nhlapo and Mighti had a political debate about an article Mighti had written about “blacks being lazy”. “My contestation with him is that he can’t say blacks are lazy because of our history,” Nhlapo said.
Nhlapo said he was also uncomfortable with the sexist remarks Mighti made a few months ago on the Wits Debating Union facebook page. Nhlapo told Wits Vuvuzela that he had lodged the complaint in fear of his life. “What I want from him is that he must stay away from me… he’s violent.”
Project W responds.
Accused: Project W member Jamie Mighti pictured here with Henry Masuku may have legal action taken against him.
[pullquote align=”left”]“He [Mighti]] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,” [/pullquote]
During an interview with the Project W campaign manager, Cebo Gila, a female student approached him and said, “Guys, please control Jamie… he can’t go around picking fights”. Gila said Project W needed to “protect” rather than control Mighti. “He [Mighti] is being crucified. They bring out his history and they try to score cheap political points,”
Gila said the opposition was preoccupied with personal attacks against Mighti for allegedly being violent and sexist , using his “history” to undermine Project W instead of engaging with the manifesto of the student action group.
“When he is being provoked on a daily basis to the point that he is being crucified, he is going to react,” Gila said. Gila said that members of Project W were being intimidated to the point where “I feel uncomfortable wearing this T-shirt”.“Do you understand that we have been bullied, we have been forced to change strategy, we have been victimized, our volunteers are told we are puppets,” he said.Gila also raised concern that Project W posters were being torn down.
Project W allegedly receives financial assistance from management.
[pullquote] “completely false
accusations” [/pullquote]made against it.
SRC treasurer, Justice Nkomo, claimed that Project W had received R500 000 from Wits management. He said Project W misled the students because it presented itself as humanitarian.“They ran it [Project W] as a charity campaign but it has a political agenda,” Nkomo said. “They are collecting cans [of food] now; were people not starving in March and April?”
Project W is considering seeking legal avenues to deal with the“completely false accusations” made against it. Gila said that Project W never misrepresented itself. “The misconception is an incompletion of how they [the PYA] understand Project W,” Gila said.
Mighti declined to comment on the incident with Nhlapo and referred Wits Vuvuzela to Gila. Gila said the incident was “regrettable, from both parties”. Wits Vuvuzela was not able to reach the Wits Legal Office for comment.
Related articles : Top debater gets banned
Political posturing, promises and long analogies about “political boyfriends” have so far defined the 2013 SRC election campaign.
The SRC elections, to be held from August 27 to 29, are being fought by three political organisations as well as a slew of independent candidates.The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (Daso) and political newcomer Project W, have been visiting student residences this past week in a series of circuses to make their pitches to the electorate.
I’m gonna do everything it takes to win your love again
The student political organisations all had their chance to give sweet promises to students.At Tuesday’s circus in Braamfontein Centre, Project W member Jamie Mighti gave a lengthy analogy where he compared campaigning by the PYA, who have dominated past SRCs, to him begging an old girlfriend to take him back.
“‘Give me more time, I’m gonna change, I’m gonna get my behaviour right and I’m gonna do everything it takes to win your love again’,” he recounted pleading. “She was wiser than most and she broke up with me. Because talk is cheap, this is not about talking. We are at the point of re-negotiating the relationship,” Mighti said.
[pullquote]She was wiser than most and she broke up with me. Because talk is cheap[/pullquote]
The audience, filled mostly with PYA sympathisers, laughed—though whether the laughter was with Mighti or directed at him was not clear. Mighti continued his attack and said it was under the PYA that Wits students had become second place to those at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
But the PYA was ready for Mighti as they began to list their organisation’s past accomplishments in the SRC. “We’ve managed to get students buses to Bree and Noord. We’ve managed to get international students to pay their fees in instalments,” said PYA candidate Yanga Nokwe. She told students that it was a PYA-led SRC that got working lifts and wifi in Braamfontein Centre.
We are not political opportunists
SRC internal vice-president and PYA member, Joy Phiri, challenged Project W on their credentials and asked what experience they had leading students. At this point Daso, which had struggled for footing in the debate, quickly interjected and said that all of their candidates had already served in student leadership positions such as house comms and school councils.
“We are not political opportunists,” said Daso candidate Dikeledi Selowa. The circuses are designed to allow candidates to engage students and convince them to cast their votes. But they had the opposite effect on at least one student who thought the behaviour of the arguing candidates was “unruly”.
“Is this the type of people they are schooling us to be? I wasn’t impressed,” she said.
TALK THAT TALK: The Wits Debating Union’s Jamie Mighti (right) has been banned from participating in an upcoming tournament in Durban Photo: Provide
THE PRESIDENT of the Wits Debating Union (WDU) has been banned from a tournament in Durban following allegations of sexism.
The Howard College Debating Union (HCDU) executive committee banned WDU President Jamie Mighti from participating in its second annual debating tournament on April 26 after receiving an anonymous complaint.
Mighti was accused of making sexist remarks on the Nationals 2011 Facebook page towards HCDU members Kimera Chetty and Lindelwe Dube.
The war of words began when Chetty posted a comment on Facebook about the Jozi Rumble, a debating tournament hosted by WDU earlier this month. Chetty asked about television coverage of the tournament, which she said had been promised by Mighti.
“Hey Jamie, which channel can we catch the syndication of the Jozi rumble debates? #excited,” Chetty posted.
Mighti responded to Chetty with a post accusing her of using sexual favours to succeed in debate and saying she had a “flat bum”.
“You can sleep your way to the top but how will you sleep your way to this?” wrote Mighti. “Do you know what your mother wishes…that she had done better, than having a cry baby for a duaghter [sic]”.
Chetty fired back against Mighti on Facebook calling him sexist and arrogant.
“I am VERY glad that everyone is getting to see you for the sexist creep you are,” wrote Chetty. “Your problem is that for all your arrogance and general self-arse-kissery, you have trouble dealing with things directed specifically at *you*.
Lindelwe Dube then joined the Facebook conversation to defend Chetty:
“We all know Kimera or anyone who does well in our community didn’t sleep their way to the top. I for one was on my way to beating the crap out of Jamie for the statement he said about Kimera,” she wrote.
Mighti responded to Lindelwe Dube’s comment by claiming she was bitter because he had refused her advances. “If you went to gym more, who knows what could have happened, let go of the KFC girl.”
Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that Chetty’s comments were attempts to undermine the work the WDU had done in hosting a successful tournament. “In that post she was trying to ridicule and mock the tournament,” explained Mighti.
He added that his online argument with Chetty was not an isolated incident. “Me and Kemira have had many, many differences over the years…and even on that wall [The Nationals 2011 Facebook Page] there we have many interactions where we will shout at each other.”
Wits Vuvuzela tried to reach Chetty for comment but received no response.
In an official email to the WDU, the HCDU executive committee announced Mighti’s exclusion from the tournament. “Due to Jamie’s utterances on FB page, he falls into that category of individual that the HCDU wishes to dissociate itself from. This ban is applicable only to Jamie and does not attach itself to WDU,” read the email.
Mighti told Wits Vuvuzela that he felt his comments should not reflect badly on the WDU and said he acted out of anger and frustration. He also turned to Facebook to offer apologies to Chetty and Lindelwa Dube. However, he denied that his comments were sexist or untruthful.
“I am sorry I called Lindelwe fat, this was a hurtful thing for me to say, I do not think it was sexist,” Mighti wrote.”I am sorry I said Kimera slept her way to the top, I have no business discussing people’s sexual histories or calling them names. I did not in any way ever mean that WOMEN are as a group incapable of making it on their own and that they can’t do anything.”
“In a moment of anger I also said something about her, which is not untrue but also very hurtful,” said Mighti.
Mighti wrote that he hoped to find a way to move past the dispute with Chetty and Lindelwa Dube. The WDU has since decided to withdraw from attending the tournament. WDU Treasurer Gwinyani Dube said a double-standard had been applied to Mighti as the two HCDU debaters had not been suspended despite having also made insults.
Gwinyani Dube defended Mighti from accusations of sexism and said they were a matter of “perception”.
“The idea of sexism largely relies on perception. We as a union…don’t view the insults as sexist but rather a personal insult that has been inflated into a broader woman-based issue,” Gwinyai Dube said.
Mighti said that the exclusion from the tournament would not affect the WDU’s ranking as number one in Africa and 23rd in the world. The tournament hosted by HCDU was a friendly and not mandatory to attend, he added.