The Wits SRC election results were announced this morning, with the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) taking all 15 seats. (more…)
Project W has been working on a campaign that aims to help more students graduate.
On Friday the University of the Witswatersrand released a statement around the suspension of students and the exclusion of the Wits EFF society. This comes after a disruption that was initiated by the Wits EFF at the SRC debate which ended in a physical altercation between parties. It was the start of an unusual campaign season.
This year four parties registered to run for the 2016 SRC elections these included the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters, Project W, the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO).
Cancelled SRC debate
Campaigning started off with a bang this year when the annual Student Representative Council (SRC) debate was cancelled after a fight broke out between parties.
Members of the Wits EFF filled the Great Hall stage dancing and chanting “No SRC!” The party continued to disrupt the proceedings of the debate.
The organisers, campus control head of investigations Michael Mahada, and campaign managers then went backstage for an emergency meeting. The group then came out and announced that the debate was cancelled. Chief electoral officer, Thembi Dlamini explained that the cancellation was based on a “collective decision”.
Exceptionally disappointed with the puerile & disruptive actions of Wits EFF. For Pete’s sake debate ideas & win argument through persuasion
— Kenneth Thobejane (@ramabifiT) August 22, 2015
Then more confusion hit at what was supposed to be the first campaigning circus for the year. Only the PYA and a few Wits EFF candidates arrived at the FNB building on Wednesday. According to PYA’s Twitter account, supporters were requested to meet at 1:20pm at the FNB building, for an official election circus. But on arrival it seemed that there was no organisation for the event and only a few PYA candidates handing out pamphlets.
A handful of PYA members were handing out pamphlets encouraging students to vote for their party. When asked, the candidates told those that gathered that they were waiting on the party’s officials and the Independent Electoral Committee (IEC), none of whom showed up. PYA representatives told Wits Vuvuzela that, “It seems as though only Project W were made aware of the postponement, because it was only the EFF and the PYA that prepared for today’s circus.”
What seemed at first, to be a defiance of the cancellation to those who knew about it turned into a simple misunderstanding and miscommunication on the part of the candidates and their parties.
We will be at FNB today for the first official election circus, 1:20pm! Come through, meet your PYA candidates and hear why #PYALEADS!
— WitsPYA (@WitsPYA) August 19, 2015
The show goes on with circus at the Matrix
On Thursday the first organised and official campus circus was held at the Matrix on Wits East campus. Students were encouraged to question candidates on issues surrounding party mandates and burning topics related to the university. While at one point the EFF caused a bit of a disruption, all in all the circus went off with no major incidents.
Suspension of Wits EFF and students involved in debate disruption
On Friday the EFF were not at the second circus that was held at the Wits Medical campus. That evening at 6:30pm a statement was emailed to the Wits student body from the Council of the University of the Witwatersrand. The document gave comment on the decisions to suspend the Wits EFF as a society and said some of the students involved in the fighting at the Tuesday debate would be suspended.
— EFF expelled at wits (@lovezamazama) August 21, 2015
Varsity is a place where young intellectuals meet,discuss & bring new ideas, a hub for challenging the status quo so reinstate Wits EFF now
— Modibe J Modiba (@10dibz) August 21, 2015
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.
Project w has delivered. … (W)right now……..couches for knocks pic.twitter.com/XgxOTvrG1l
— Vhahangwele Magodi (@Veeeeeman) August 23, 2013
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.
A group of students have come together to “make Wits better”. Project W was formed by a diverse group of students from various degrees, clubs and societies.
The group has come together under the motto “make Wits better” in an attempt to change the way students experience Wits.
The group is starting with a food drive, called “Give-A-Can” running until the month of September.
Tapiwa Gozhore, 3rd year BA told Wits Vuvuzela , that Project W was about showing that students care about one another.
“It’s high time we have people connecting with the students, “he said.
For students by students
Gozhore also raised a concern, that the SRC, that should be representing the students, was overly concerned with politics rather than the well-being of students on campus.
It is for this reason that Project W is running the “Give-a-Can” initiative to help less fortunate students, who do not have the means to feed themselves.
“There are a lot of students on campus that do not have food, and it is difficult to concentrate on an empty stomach,” said Gozhore.
Project W will be working hand in hand with the Wits Volunteer programme and the Dean of Students’ assistance program.
The food collected will be distributed through the Wits Volunteer programme.
Making Wits better is an ongoing initiative for Project W. While they are starting with a food drive, they plan to have many more on-campus initiatives in the future.
Project W also a launched a signature campaign, collecting signatures from students and encouraging them to come forward and raise their concerns at the town hall called by the wits university administration yesterday.
Ethan Genende, 4th year BComm Law, presented the petition with three thousand signatures to Prof Adam Habib. Habib said that he was happy to have them.
Students are encouraged to take part in the “Give-a-Can” campaign, by donating food at various collection points.
The collection points for the food drive are outisde the gaming room in the matrix and at the medical campus cafeteria.
In the weeks to follow, there will also be collection points at OLS on East Campus, FNB Building on West Campus and at the Business School and education campuses.