Pearl Pillay is a former SRC member, she is currently studying towards her masters in politics. Photo: Provided
OVER the next few weeks, activists on our campus and indeed on campuses around the world will rally together to commemorate Israeli Apartheid Week 2014 (IAW). Much has been said about this week of global activism, however, very little has been said about how you, an ordinary citizen, fit into this global picture. Why should you care about people on the other side of the world?
IAW is an annual series of events aimed at educating people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid state.
It will take place in over 250 cities around the world and has been endorsed by hundreds of organisations.
[pullquote]”If you were asking why get involved, maybe you should rather be asking why not?”[/pullquote]
This week is crucial in raising awareness and providing information about Zionism, the Palestinian struggle for liberation and, more importantly for us, how their struggle has distinct parallels with ours as South Africans.
You may be wondering what exactly we mean when we say “Israeli Apartheid”.
In the most basic terms, this refers to the deliberate policy of racial or ethnic segregation perpetuated by the state of Israel. Under this system, millions of Palestinians live in conditions which are very similar to that of apartheid South Africa.
No right of free speech, arrest and imprisonment without trial or charge, torture and no right to vote for the government which controls their lives are but a few of the conditions that govern the day-to-day lives of Palestinians.
It is unnecessary to reiterate the long history of oppression which apartheid brought to the people of our country. What is important, however, is highlighting the fact that during our struggle, people around the world mobilised against apartheid South Africa.
Today, more than an opportunity, it becomes our duty to do our part for a people who continue to struggle against Israeli apartheid.
Apartheid is unacceptable – regardless of where you’re from.
We aren’t saying that you should stand on a picket line in the Gaza Strip, but we are asking that you consider the plight of the Palestinian people whilst you enjoy your freedoms. IAW, and indeed the Palestinian solidarity movement, is becoming increasingly fashionable; this is your chance to get involved in a global campaign, to use your Wits experience and contribute to something way beyond Jorrisen street and Empire road.
If you were asking why get involved, maybe you should rather be asking why not?
Pearl Pillay is a former SRC member, she is currently studying towards her masters in politics.
The elections for 2014’s Wits Student Representative Council (SRC), are but hours away. With over 50 people and organisations running for elections, students need to think carefully about whose picture they will put their ‘X’ next to.
The road to the polls
People clad in dark blue, yellow and light blue t-shirts have been knocking on doors and debating furiously the past few weeks as the election dates draw ever nearer. [pullquote align=”right”]”Let them bring couches, we will bring leadership”[/pullquote]
The campaign trail has been upped a notch this year with the arrival newcomer ProjectW. They have collected over 3000 canned food items, handed out study guides earlier in the year and delivered couches to residences. Leaving egg on the faces of those who handed out t-shirts and lollipops.
COMFY: A screengrab of a student breaking in one of the new couches at Knockondo residence. Photo: Provided
ProjectW member, Jamie Mighti said that they were simply fulfilling students needs with the couches. “We deliver on the ground and will continue to do so beyond these elections”.
Pearl Pillay, member of opposition group PYA said that what ProjectW had done with the couches was very opportunistic and that they were simply trying to buy students’ votes. “Let them bring couches, we will bring leadership,” she added.
[pullquote] “We deliver on the ground and will continue to do so beyond these elections”[/pullquote]
Mighti responded to these claims by saying that the PYA were then hypocrites because they handed out 5000 t-shirts to students, “what they didn’t consider is the fact that our couches will be around for years to provide comfort to students, while their t-shirts will be used to sleep in”. Mighti added that their opponents were merely trying to undermine them, even though they have failed to fulfil student needs for the past three years.
Whether or not these incentives are the way to student’s hearts will become evident after the polls have closed.
Many a promise has been made by those running for office. The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) has a history behind them to support their claims. Their campaign focused on past victories like the reduction of proposed registration fees last year for students in need.
This year the Democratic Alliance’s (Daso) youth wing was not the PYA’s biggest competitor. ProjectW made a lot of noise during the circuses on campus about what they can and will do if given the opportunity to lead the SRC next year. They have been embroiled in a lot of back and forth banter with the PYA on what the latter have failed to do while in office.
Amongst some of ProjectW’s promises they listed longer library hours, more textbooks and online lectures as vital goals on their agenda.
Daso put forward their 18 point manifesto which promised a bail-out fund for students who may lack funding for school related necessities during their year of study.
[pullquote]”I only got R5oo to campaign, I could barely afford to put up posters”[/pullquote] Totally lost in all the campaigning are the independent candidates. There are eight independents in total, none of whom have managed to make much of an impression in the hearts and minds of the electorate at large.
Pabalelo Selema, an independent candidate said that he was excited ahead of elections and that he felt prepared. “I did one on one sessions with students to campaign”. He added that the bigger organisations were at an advantage because they had bigger budgets with which to campaign. “I only got R5oo to campaign, I could barely afford to put up posters,” he said.
As students head to the polls tomorrow, one can only hope that they vote for the people and persons who will help to make Wits better and not be blinded by the momentary blue colouring in their mouths from the blue gobstoppers they were given.