Young Builders move to break new ground at Wits

The youth wing of Mmusi Maimane’s Build One South Africa has a vision to do away with fees.  

A new political society has been registered at Wits, with its sights set on changing the dynamic of the university’s current representation of young people in decision making processes. 

The Young Builders Movement (YBM), launched at the university on April 13, hopes to fill the gaps that it says other political societies on campus have fallen short of.  Wits YBM chairperson Nikilitha Mxinwa says that these gaps include the choices that young South Africans have had in terms of representation – that have ultimately not allowed for their own voices to be heard. 

Mxinwa says that decisions which affect the youth are made by those who do not understand or are not affected by the issues. These decisions pertain to issues of financial exclusion, fees and accommodation. YBM argues that this is because these decisions come from a “top-down” approach. He describes the society as one which takes a bottom-up approach. “Young leaders on the ground” make decisions about issues that affect them, not “from the top”, he says.

YBM national leader and Wits alumnus Henry Masuku and Mxinwa describe the society as one which can prepare students for life outside of university.  

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, Masuku said that it does so by bringing in experts to teach its members entrepreneurial, business and leadership skills. This is aimed at “alleviating graduate unemployment”.  

Like most political societies on campus, Masuku says Bosa aims to address the unsolved legacy of #FeesMustFall.  

Wits YBM chairperson Nikilitha Mxinwa engages with students across the Library Lawns on April 19, 2023. Photo: Seth Thorne

These are systemic issues of higher education that have been widely debated at Wits over many years. Yet the YBM claims that their solutions for these issues are the ones which are “practical”. Masuku only discussed one with Wits Vuvuzela – which is a plan to implement free education, by introducing a system which taxes 1% of graduate’s monthly income once they have found employment.  

The YBM is the youth wing of independent political party Build One South Africa (Bosa), formed by former DA leader Mmusi Maimane. It is inviting South African students, job seekers, and employed professionals between the ages of 18 and 35 to sign-up in person or online. 

In discussions with various students engaging with the YBM on campus, many cited Maimane for their interest. First-year actuarial science student Patrick Nemasea said he prefers “Mmusi’s vision of South Africa [as compared to other political leaders]”, as it builds a country “that stays true to values”. 

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YBM national leader Henry Masuku sells their vision to Wits students near the Matrix on April 19, 2023. Photo: Seth Thorne

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New DA leader ‘passionate’ about student issues

Newly elected DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, addresses criticisms on student issues and politics.

Mmusi Maimane speaking at an event. Photograph: Stock images by The Democratic Alliance [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Mmusi Maimane speaking at an event. Photograph: Stock images by The Democratic Alliance [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

New Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader Mmusi Maimane spoke to Wits Vuvuzela this week after his election as party leader.
Maimane said that he is passionate about the youth and the issues that affect them, with focus on issues such as funding for students.
“My passion is for the youth,” he said.
As a former Witsie, Maimane described his experiences at the university and said his problems were typical.
“Like all students I struggled with the same issues such as tuition… but I found it a great experience.”
“Historically, Wits University has always been at the forefront of freedom of expression and always active in protests,” Maimane said
He also had high praise for Vice Chancellor Adam Habib: “I celebrate Adam Habib and the way he solves leadership problems.”
Maimane added that the DA was growing on campuses, citing the DA Student Organisation’s SRC victory at Fort Hare University.
“We are the dominant SRC at Fort Hare, the university where Nelson Mandela went as well as many others,” he said.

It is not only fundamentally racist but it is also what Steve Biko warned against…that in fact the powerful weapon of the oppression is the mind-set of the oppressed.

However, when asked about students politics at Wits he said: “A lot more can be done.”
In an interview with VowFM, earlier this week, Maimane addressed some of the issues he has been critised for including being a black ‘puppet’ for a white party. This comes after he was elected as the first black leader of the DA with some calling it a strategic move for the party.
“It is not only fundamentally racist but it is also what Steve Biko warned against…that in fact the powerful weapon of the oppression is the mind-set of the oppressed.”
He also answered questions regarding the DA’s position on affirmative action and the party being accused of not being fully committed to addressing race inequalities. “The long term destination of South Africa is to build diverse work places…We support triple ‘B’ [black, broad-based] and double ‘E’ [employment equity] but we don’t want to do it like the ANC wants to do it.”
In the radio interview he spoke about youth unemployment “We need a growing economy for young people. We need to ensure micro-enterprise is brought forward for young people.”
Maimane also answered questions about whether the youth wage subsidy is an adequate response to youth unemployment in the country.
“The project of making sure that young people are getting into the economic stream is a project that must involve multiple dynamics, with one of them being the youth wage subsidy. These issues are multi-faceted and require multiple prongs to address youth unemployment.”
On a lighter note, Wits Vuvuzela asked Maimane what his nicknames were. He told us that his wife, Natalie, calls him “my love”.

mmusi 2 edited (Conflict Copy)

President Zuma gets the vote

President Jacob Zuma managed to survive an opposition-led vote of no confidence when The National Assembly voted against the motion on Tuesday March, 17.

Jacob_Zuma_2014_(cropped)

CONFIDENT: President Jacob Zuma received the majority of votes against a motion of no confidence in him brought forward by opposition parties at The National Assembly on Tuesday. File Photo: Amanda Lucidon.

The final result of the vote was 113 in favour, 221 against and eight members abstaining.

Voting was delayed by about 10 minutes when the electronic ballot system froze and technicians had to be called in to fix the problem.

This is the second motion of no confidence against the president this year. The first motion was brought forward by political party Agang SA in February but was withdrawn when a secret ballot was denied. The DA filed for a motion of no confidence on Tuesday March, 03 following Agang’s withdrawal.

During the no confidence debate, DA Parliamentary Leader Mmusi Maimane commented that those opposed to the motion would “…vote against their conscience…”and “vote for a thief…”. ANC chief whip Stone Sizani objected to Maimane’s comment that the president is a thief. Maimane reluctantly withdrew the comment but said it was allowed by the constitutional court.

Watch some of Maimane’s speech below:

A member of the Economic Freedom Fighters Nokolunga Sonti made similar comments to Maimane, providing an ultimatum that the vote was either for President Zuma or South African citizens. The Freedom Front Plus’s Pieter Groenewald said that “The president runs away from his responsibilities”.

The debate included numerous insults made by assembly members such as Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu saying Maimane is “a desperate man trying to prop up a desperate party [the DA].” Opposition members responded by saying speaker Baleka Mbete was acting impartially.

The president was not present during The National Assembly as he was attending the inauguration of new Lesotho Prime Minister-elect Pakalitha Mosisili according to a statement by the office of the President.

Politician kicked out of O-week

Access denied: Democratic Alliance spokesperson Mmusi Maimane was denied a scheduled speaking slot because it allegedly violated O-week protocol.

Access denied: Democratic Alliance spokesperson Mmusi Maimane was denied a scheduled speaking slot because it allegedly violated O-week protocol. Photo: Provided

A speech by Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson Mmusi Maimane during O-week was cancelled, allegedly because the party’s Wits youth wing failed to follow university procedure.

The alleged violation of protocol by the DA Student Organisation (DASO) resulted in Maimane being denied a speaking slot shortly before he was scheduled to address students.

Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC vice-president, told Wits Vuvuzela Maimane did not get permission to address students.

Prem Coopoo, dean of students, said she approves all society events of a political nature and does not allow any political speakers on campus during O-week. She added that the new executive committee may not have been aware of the procedure.

Maimane claimed censorship

Maimane said he was not allowed to speak at the clubs and societies’ marquee on the Great Hall piazza, although DASO had confirmed a 15-minute time slot the day before. The SRC drew up a timetable to give different societies the opportunity to promote themselves throughout the week.

In a press statement, Maimane described the incident as “anti-democratic bullying” by the “ANCYL-run Wits SRC”. Fourteen of the 15 elected SRC members belong to the Progressive Youth Alliance, a coalition between several student organisations including the Wits ANC Youth League.

“This is yet another example of how the ANC is attempting to close down the democratic space at our universities. There is a growing intolerance in the ANC of differing views,” he said.

"Signing up for membership" - photo posted by @MmusiMaimane on Twitter during his visit to Wits on Tuesday February 4.

“Signing up for membership” – photo posted by Maimane (@MaimaneAM) on Twitter during his visit to Wits on Tuesday February 4.

[pullquote]”He cannot expect to be given red carpet treatment here because he’s opposition”.[/pullquote]

Tshediso Mangope, Wits ANCYL chairperson, accused Maimane of “cheap politicking”.

“This ‘Robin Hood style’ of manoeuvring is not going to assist us … he cannot expect to be given red carpet treatment here because he’s opposition,” Mangope said.

In e-mail correspondence, DASO Wits requested a speaking slot with Apelele Pindani, SRC Clubs and Societies officer, over a week before the start of o-week.

But after Maimane’s arrival, Luyolo Mphithi, DASO Wits leader, said he was informed by the SRC that the society had not received the necessary clearance to have a political figure address students.

“They were telling us that we didn’t get permission to get him inside Wits and that he was not allowed to be inside.”

 Published in Wits Vuvuzela (2nd edition), 15th February 2013