Wits town hall sees shouting match

Former Wits SRC member Jamie Mighti walked out of a Wits town hall earlier today after he found himself in a shouting match with VC Adam Habib. 

A Wits town hall ended in tension earlier today after a shouting match between Vice Chancellor Prof Adam Habib and former SRC member Jamie Mighti,  with the latter leaving the room when the argument reached a boiling point.

During the town hall, Mighti shouted his suggestion from the back of the room that Habib should order police to protect Wits students in Braamfontein, Habib shouted back that this was illegal for him to do.

Mighti insisted that the University of Johannesburg has such initiatives in place. Habib responded that it’s the responsibility of the municipality to do that.

The two parties then had a shouting match, with both accusing the other was ‘lying’.

Mighti said that Habib “Should stop lying to the students.” Mighti, who was wearing an Student Representative Council blazer, told all present that he is no longer a member of the SRC.

After the publicly heated argument, Mighti and several other students left the Senate Room. Habib continued with the meeting.

SRC president Shaeera Kalla told Wits Vuvuzela, “Town hall meetings for me are a space where things can really get unproductive, close to election time you find that parties come and want to have the loudest voice or the loudest bark.”

Kalla said she doesn’t appreciate students walking out like that, because they’ve come here to engage. “It’s a common tendency sometimes that when things don’t go your way to walk out, it’s a bit cowardly. But I do appreciate the input, and I think it’s fair to have input of that nature. The vice chancellor should be accountable and I really don’t think its professional of him to scream at students like that. There must be respectful engagement from both sides,” said Kalla.

On addressing the issue of Wits students safety outside of the university, Habib said he cannot control neighbourhoods surrounding student residences, such as Esselen residence in Hillbrow. “I don’t have the authority to look after Hilbrow,” he said. Habib added that he believed Esselen residence should be closed down.

Related articles: Jamie Mighti resigns from Wits SRC

 

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.