“Wits Management Must Fall”

A group of student organisations marched against the management of Wits University following the removal of SRC president Mcebo Dlamini.

Wits students carrying banners and singing all the way to Senate House.  Photo: Reuven Blignault

Wits students and Progressive Youth Alliance members, carrying banners, sing their way to Senate House earlier today.
Photo: Reuven Blignault

A group of student organisations marched on campus earlier today with a clear message to Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib and his management team.

“Run!” was the messaged delivered by provincial deputy secretary of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) Joy Phiri.

“No vice chancellor can tell us who our president is,” Phiri said. “Reinstate our President,” she said in reference to dismissed Student Representative Council (SRC) president, Mcebo Dlamini.

Dlamini later addressed the gathering and started by introducing himself as “Wits SRC president”.

He told the students that the problems the march was addressing were not about him.

“It has nothing to do with me as a person but everything this institution stands for,” Dlamini said.

“If I was a white president, I wouldn’t be charged today,” he added.

“It’s like the rules aren’t even applied across the board to everyone,” she said.

Nthabiseng Molefe, one of the students who helped to organise the event, the purpose of the march was to “challenge management”.

The challenges included the immediate review of Dlamini’s case, reinstatement to the position as Wits SRC President and a look at the situtation of the MJL Electrical workers.

MJL Electrical Workers

Speaking on behalf of the MJL Electrical workers, Richard Ndebele told the crowd that they wrote a letter to the vice chancellor expressing their feelings about how the University handled “their situation”.

View photos of today’s march 

Ndebele told Wits Vuvuzela that the response to this email was “contents noted.” MJL Electrical was a contractor of Wits University which made its employees “outsourced” workers. The workers have been unemployed since the University terminated its contract with the company.

“We are starving,” said Ndebele, during his address at the march. “These people cannot support their families.”

A 2nd year BCom Law student, Lebo (who did not want to give her surname), said, “a lot of students are frustrated with the way the University is dealing with certain situations”.

Handing over the memorandum  to the Dean of Students Dr Pamela Dube, Molefe said Dube was not “allowed to speak” but she must “act”.

Dismissed SRC president demands a public review

The former Wits SRC president is demanding a public review and is hoping to be reinstated. 

Dismissed SRC president Mcebo Dlamini is calling for an immediate public hearing of the review on the misconduct charge that led to him being removed from his position.

Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela that his legal team has contacted the Wits Legal Office to demand that the review of his charge be held by this Friday.

He is also demanding that his hearing be public and the media be allowed to attend and report on its proceedings for “transparency and public interest.”

“[Vice Chancellor Adam] Habib made my case to be of public interest,” said Dlamini. “He wanted me to be found guilty by public opinion.”

Dlamini had been found guilty of misconduct in February this year. He was allowed to remain as SRC president pending a review. However, last week this decision was reversed with Habib arguing that Dlamini was intentionally delaying the process.

Read Adam Habib’s response to the reaction following Dlamini’s axing

But Dlamini told Wits Vuvuzela that it was now the university who was delaying the date of his review and with exams in less than a month, he would like to “exonerate” himself.

“I want to concentrate on my exams now,” he said.

According to university’s spokesperson, Shirona Patel, the University will allow the legal process to take its course in line with its processes and procedures.

“It is not up to the Legal Office to make such a decision as they cannot act on behalf of the Student Disciplinary Committee that is hearing the matter.” she said.


Veteran journalist compared to Dlamini over Verwoerd comments

Veteran journalist Allister Sparks yesterday declared apartheid architect and former South African prime minister, Hendrik Verwoerd, as one of the many “smart” politicians he has met in the course of his career. His comments were compared to those made by former Wits SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini’s remarks on his love for Hitler. 

Veteran journalist Allister Sparks has been compared to Mcebo Dlamini after he listed Hendrik Verwoerd as one of the many smart politicians he has encountered at the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal in Port Elizabeth congress yesterday.

“I’ve encountered some really smart politicians, like the likes of Harry Lawrence, Bernard Friedman, Margaret Ballinger, Helen Zille, Helen Suzman, Zach de Beer, Frederik van Zyl Slabbert, Marais Steyn, Japie Basson and yes, Hendrik Verwoerd,” Sparks said.

The comments, which failed to list a single Black politician, was made in a tribute speech for outgoing DA leader Helen Zille. They were almost immediately condemned by many on Twitter, and subsequently compared to the Facebook post of Dlamini.

Verwoerd is considered to be the ‘architect’ of Apartheid, the system of racial segregation and oppression.

Political analyst and academic Eusebius McKaiser referred to both Sparks’ and Dlamini’s comments as “morally indefensible”

According to Professor Anton Harber, the head of Wits Journalism and the chairperson of the Freedom of Expression Institute, Sparks speaking at a political event is inappropriate for an independent journalist.

“His list of clever polticians showed a deep prejudice,” Harber added.

Harber also listed Sparks’ failure to retract his comments and apologise as one of his errors.

Like Dlamini, he stood by his comments saying that while Verwoerd’s policies were atrocious, the former prime minister built the National Party in an extraordinarily effective way.

“What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to say he was dumb or stupid? He wasn’t stupid,” Sparks is reported to have said.

Meanwhile McKaiser has challenged Sparks to a public debate about his comments.

Witsies divided over Dlamini

WHAT'S IN A NAME?: Mcebo Dlamini says the #Sisulu controversy did not affect his political standing.  Photo: Luca Kotton

DEEP DIVISION: Witsies remain divided over the reasons for the axing of SRC President Mcebo Dlamini. Photo: Wits Vuvuzela.

There have been mixed reactions at Wits University the removal of the SRC (Student Representative Council) president Mcebo Dlamini by the vice chancellor, Adam Habib last week.

Wits University found itself at the centre of the nation’s attention last week as a result of the comments made by Wits SRC president, Mcebo Dlamini. But on campus, student reactions were divided over the reasons for the subsequent axing of Dlamini.

The announcement, signed by the vice chancellor (VC) regarding Dlamini’s removal was sent through the Wits email system to all members of the Wits community, earlier this week. According to the statement though, Dlamini’s “I Love Hitler” post on Facebook, was not the reason for Dlamini’s removal. Instead, the email said, the decision was based on the fact that “Mr Dlamini was found guilty of misconduct”.

Despite the vice chancellor’s clarification about the reasons for the dismissal, many students remain sceptical.

Mzwanele Ntswanti, 3rd year Actuarial Science, does not believe that the sacking of Dlamini is a “coincidence” as it followed after the Hitler statement.

A 3rd year BSc student, who did not want to be named, told Wits Vuvuzela that he is aware of the reasons behind Dlamini’s sacking.

But added, “I highly disapprove of the vice chancellors decision to depose our democratically elected student representative.”

“Wits University is not an autocracy nor is it a high school where student representatives are appointed and sacked by one person,” he said.

Tom Dodson, 3rd year Bachelor of Arts, agrees with the VC’s decision to remove Dlamini. “A lot of the statements that he (Dlamini) made, made a lot of sense.”

However, Dodson said, “if you going represent the entire student community … You’ve really gotta think a lot harder about what you say and how you say it”.

Thembelihle Mbalu, told Wits Vuvuzela that she “supports the Habib’s decision without reservation” because Dlamini is “very defiant”.

“Mcebo was long overdue as our President.” She added, “he has been irrelevant in his addresses to students, talking about bias issues and narrow-minded opinions.”

Nivek Ranjith, a 2nd year Computer Science student, thinks the way that the VC announced Dlamini’s removal was “rude”.

“The way he did it, they gave so much detail … you can’t expose him like that,” Ranjith said.